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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Diversity would be 'heavenly'

Even as the ELCA struggles with the continuing challenges of becoming multicultural, Christians know heaven already is. "So we're rehearsing here," Lenier Gallardo told some 300 people at the 1999 Multicultural Mission Institute. Preacher at the closing worship of this Nov. 5-7 gathering in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Gallardo is pastor of Iglesia Luterana Principe de Paz, Miami, and a bishop's assistant in the Florida-Bahamas Synod.

He said the church must be multicultural, "not because society is multicultural but because the future from which God is calling us is multicultural."

Participants came from throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

"In a changing environment, the church must think about new ways of doing ministry," said Bible study leader Titus Clarke. "It will face the challenge of interpreting the gospel to people with diverse worldviews and cultural backgrounds. It's not our differences that separate us. It's our ignorance." Clarke, originally from Liberia, is a pastor of the People's Community Church at All Saints Lutheran Church, Baltimore.

William Trexler, bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, opened the institute with a challenge: "The church needs to change its focus from maintenance to mission."


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