River Park Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alta., celebrated its diversity on Pentecost Sunday when seven adults from several different countries became members through baptism and profession of faith. Five immigrant children were also baptized.
“Profession of faith and baptism are some of God’s blessings we have celebrated together on the special journey [with these people],” said Harrison Cho, River Park’s pastor of intercultural ministries.
River Park has a growing number of members who are recent immigrants. Although the majority are from Korea, the congregation also includes individuals from Cameroon, Eritrea, Indonesia, China, Germany, Holland, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sudan, the Philippines and Nepal.
Cho was ordained as a commissioned pastor in 2009 and began to serve at River Park CRC in what was then called the Korean Ministry. There were only a few Korean families at that time. As the church began to enfold increasing numbers of immigrants, not only from Korea but from other Asian countries, Korean Ministry was changed to intercultural ministry with a focus on welcoming and caring for recent immigrants.
The church’s vision is to be a healthy, diverse, inclusive mosaic church in which people retain their cultural identities while accepting and loving each other, forming a strong integrated community. At any given Sunday service there are around 300 people, including over 60-70 from the intercultural ministry, worshiping together as one community.
“Pursuing this God-given vision for River Park Church has become one of the important purposes of my life,” said Cho. “At first, it was a big challenge to invite, serve, and work together with new immigrants within a typical western style of Canadian church. But with the support of church leaders and dedicated volunteers, the community has been steadily growing in numbers and spiritual maturity. It has been a great opportunity and joy to witness God’s moving and working in their lives, his love and grace, and how he richly blesses us through diversity.”