Despite growing diversity in our country, people of different races and ethnicities still tend to live, socialize and worship with those like them. As a result, it has been frustrating for the ELCA to achieve its goal of growing into a multicultural church.
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To become truly multicultural, the church must embrace a vision that includes reaching out to younger generations, said Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop .
"[My wife and I] have six children who are deeply formed by the 20-something culture today," he said. "So often when they go to church it's a cross-cultural experience, unlike when I grew up."
As a young adult, Hanson experienced "a lot of continuity" in terms of culture, schools, neighborhoods and church. The same can't be said today, and the effect can be startling. "We have to be mindful of that," he said. "We have to say, ‘What are we willing to die to so that we can make a place for those young adults?'"
So if you're 25 and plugged into social networking communities like Facebook and Twitter and a 65-year-old invites you to the men's Bible study, it might be OK. "Or it might be ‘whoa!' " Hanson said. "And not in a good way."
A congregation that bridged the generational gap between church and young adults is House for All Sinners and Saints Lutheran in Denver, Hanson said.
House For All calls itself "a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice-oriented, queer inclusive, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient-future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination."
The congregation focuses its ministries on reaching out to young adults. For example, Sunday worship is at 4 p.m. to accommodate young members. Its Web site includes everything from a justification for "postmodern" ministry to calendars listing events such as "Bring Your Own Brain Bible Study."
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