(Following is the statement adopted Feb. 2 by participants at the multi-ethnic symposium.)
The second multi-ethnic symposium, “Conversations of Hope,” convened at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis on Feb. 1-2, 2010. The focus of these conversations addressed concerns voiced by the participants along two lines — theological and sociological/anthropological.
The unity expressed as LCMS Lutherans surfaced along the expected theological lines as we share one hope, one faith, and one baptism, committed to Lutheran theology, doctrine, and practice. Unity within the body of Christ also recognizes, respects, and celebrates the diversities of our human condition. This unity does not mean, for example, complete or cultural uniformity in the practices of our faith, including worship, where language, culture, history, and ethnicity inform and impact who we are and how we express our love for the Lord and for each other.
The wide-ranging discussion on diversity brought out many God-given differences as to how we live our daily lives within our distinct cultures. Differences are not the problem, they are just that — differences, and they should be celebrated. The problem is sin and that has expressed itself historically in our church so that non-Anglo-Saxon minorities are marginalized and seemingly voiceless in our structures.
We call on the church at-large to take bold steps:
- to move from suspicion to trust.
- [to move] from closed-mindedness to open heartedness.
- [to move] from indifference toward compassion.
- [to move] from ignoring, avoiding, or marginalizing the needs of minorities to integrating them into the overall mission of the church.
- [to move] from isolated assumptions to intentional discussions with those of other ethnicities and cultures.
- [to move] from silence to bold assertion of voice and presence.
- [to move] from focusing simply on ethnic ministry to a full appreciation and utilization of all the various gifts within the body of Christ, including the leadership of ethnic ministries.
- to engage the whole church in taking full responsibility for the evangelization of all ethnic groups within the U.S. context.
- to the end that we might become the mature body of Christ which welcomes all, loves all, reaches out to all, and embraces the hope we have in a fallen world.
We call on the church to move forward, not only in developing practical theological applications to our aspirations, but also through real dialogue leading to healthier relationships, growth, and discipleship as members of the church at-large.
In the end, we are all immigrants on this earth; therefore, as we each journey toward our ultimate home with the Lord, let us remain faithful to the very end.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Posted Feb. 18, 2010