MACON — Approximately 100 Georgia Baptist pastors and their spouses representing numerous nations and ethnicities gathered at Mabel White Baptist Church March 13-15 for the annual meeting of the Intercultural Leadership Conference.
The gathering, now in its second decade of existence, previously took place at the Georgia Baptist Building in Atlanta (prior to construction of the current Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth) or at one of the GBC Conference Centers in Toccoa or Norman Park. This was its first year to be held in a centrally-located church, said state missionary Jerry Baker of Intercultural Church Planting and Missions Ministry.
"The decision to move to a more-accessible location was well-received," said Baker. "Our theme, 'Reaching the Nations in Georgia,' reflected how we can work cross-culturally outside of our own ethnic group and reach immigrant populations here."
With so many cultures in attendance, the program provided training in understanding those different ethnic groups. Baker noted how more than six hours of presentations covered worldviews of honor/shame, guilt/innocent, and fear/power. Honor/shame predominated in the presentations and discussions.
"For example," he explained. "In the United States and western countries, we operate through a guilt/innocent culture. In areas where there are animistic religions, the fear/power way of thinking dominates."
Nations represented included Jamaica, Ghana, Egypt, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Guatemala. A multi-cultural African American church comprised of 6-8 nationalities, Baker said.
Van Sanders, professor in the Truett McConnell University School of Theology and Missions, taught on worldview and served as the main content leader. Dave Parker, missions pastor of First Baptist Statesboro, preached in three worship services. Proskeuno, a multicultural worship ministry housed at Clarkston International Bible Church, led in those services. In addition, the group trained others in how to lead worship among those of varying cultures.
On Tuesday night, March 14, six Korean worship leaders led a service. Furthermore, a Korean choir of 16 from the Atlanta area later took the stage.
Other speakers included Mary Cox, director of Georgia Baptist Ministers Wives, who led two sessions for wives of pastors in attendance. Ben O'Neal, an expert on church security, joined the lineup as well as Keith Hamilton of GuideStone Retirement and Insurance Services, presenting on retirement planning for pastors. In addition, the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry, part of Intercultural Church Planting and Missions, provided a mobile dental clinic.
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