The air was filled with excitement, heated conversations, and group debates as participants in the Cultural Intelligence workshop expressed their opinions, ideas, and experiences.
This was the first stop in Canada for the program prepared by the Christian Reformed Church’s Race Relations ministry to bring new insights for reaching out to diverse communities such as Mississauga, Ontario, where the event was held on October 26-27.
Fifty-five people, most of them from Meadowvale Community CRC, participated with the guidance of facilitators headed by Race Relations director Esteban Lugo.
“[This] brings an opportunity for conversation and dialog, as it equips the church members with the needed tools to intentionally interact with people of other cultures,” said Meadowvale Community’s pastor, Sam Cooper. “This training helps us learn how to engage and connect with people who are different from us.”
Cooper explained, “Repeatedly throughout Scripture God says, ‘Welcome the stranger. Practice hospitality.’ If this is true, then it is imperative that we learn how to be genuinely hospitable. The workshop is the beginning of a learning process that will assist us in practicing God's welcome as we reach across the differences that so often separate us.”
The Race Relations ministry is hoping to train several congregations with Cultural Intelligence and other programs that will equip them to be a resource for other churches in the area.
“If the churches say that they want to grow and embrace people, it’s critical that all of us take part in this education,” said Sandra Williams, a member of Meadowvale Community. “The population is rapidly evolving. Some may not see an immediate need for this workshop, but this was Jesus’ call to his disciples, and this training helps us adapt to those cross-cultural changes.”