Engaging with cultural identity

Posted in Culture

Building Bridges of Understanding is the Assembly ministry training course being offered by Mission Resourcing’s CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) team. CALD Ministry Coordinator Kemeri Liévano spoke to Catherine Hoffman about the training, and why it’s vital for church leaders and communities to get involved.

“Building Bridges of Understanding is really about cultural awareness for ministry,” Kemeri Liévano emphasises. “All the basics are there – it’s really an introductory program. It’ll include helping people to understand their own cultural identity and how to work with people who identify differently.”

The two-day workshop has been designed by the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly and has been successfully carried out in congregations and communities across the nation. But despite being a key tool in helping ministers and lay leaders to better understand cultural identity and community, it has remained absent in the South Australian sphere until recently.

“When we shape people for practical ministry, we need to be thinking about ideas like cultural identity and the cultural lenses through which we understand God and ministry,” says Kemeri. “If we don’t intentionally develop and resource the church in these areas, it’s going to be much harder for ministry leaders and churches to engage with the half of Australia that is from a cultural background outside the mainstream.”

Running over two days, Building Bridges of Understanding is a required or strongly recommended course for ministry leaders within the Uniting Church.

The course will help equip participants for respectful and intentional intercultural engagement, helping leaders to develop contextually relevant ministry in diverse communities.

“Our church communities embrace people from many cultural and linguistic backgrounds,” Kemeri continues. “This course looks at common misunderstandings held by some community members and leaders. Through this training we hope to help people move beyond cultural blindness – like the ‘aren’t we all just the same anyway?’ mentality – and help them find ways to recognise, value and engage different perspectives in ministry.”

The program was designed by CALD ministry practitioners, theologians and educators to be relevant for both CALD and mainstream participants, so all are welcome.

“People coming along are encouraged to be ready to examine their own cultural preconceptions with an open heart, to unpack scriptural perspectives on interculturality in ministry, and to begin understanding how we can use what God has given us to bless the church missionally.”

The Building Bridges of Understanding training workshop will be held at Parafield Gardens Uniting Church on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August, 9am-4pm each day. The course costs $15 per day, which covers catering costs for morning tea and lunch. More training sessions may be added later in the year.

For more information, to register for the August session or express your interest in a future session, please contact Kemeri Liévano on 8236 4285 or email cald@sa.uca.org.au

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