Oh, How Good and Pleasant It Is

The Rev. Jeckonia Okoth

Oh, How Good and Pleasant It Is

What happens when you bring an English speaker to a Hmong Eucharistic service? Or when a priest leaves their Sunday congregation, presides, and preaches in a different setting? 1 Corinthians 12:13 comes to mind: But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 

On Sunday, April 21, faith communities within the Multicultural Ministries embarked on this kind of unique fellowship journey. 

ECMN's multicultural faith communities late last year began an experiment: the Visitation and Exchange Initiative, intended to unite faith communities within the ministry to fellowship, know each other, and learn from each other. 

While the idea is not new, it is not common, as most of the time faith communities seek to exist in their (un)comfortable cocoons; this initiative offers our communities an opportunity to see what's going on out here.

One specific example of the visit was between Messiah Episcopal Church in St. Paul and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. Rev. David Langille, the Rector of Messiah, presided at preached at St. Andrew's, while Rev. John Mitchell, the Rector of St. Andrew's, did the same at Messiah. 

The Rev. Langille said of the experience, "Messiah welcomed Fr. Mitchell and held a festive coffee hour in celebration. He preached the Gospel, which was much appreciated. My experience at St. Andrew's was welcomed, with folks being friendly to me and the few members from Messiah who joined me."

Six members of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, St. Paul, along with the Rev. Bao Moua, worshiped at St. Matthews, St. Paul, while a few members of St. Matthew's joined Holy Apostles for worship. 

The initiative is an add-on to ongoing partnerships. St. Andrew's has an ongoing Bible study with Grace Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, while St. Matthew's and Holy Trinity also have a long-running partnership. 

The visitation and exchange schedule is not meant to replace existing partnerships but to create new possibilities for growing together in Christ and undertaking His mission within the diocese. Doing church together starts with getting to know each other. Only then can artificial, long held barriers start to crumble. 

The next round of visitation and exchange is scheduled for May 21, just two weeks before the Multicultural Ministries Retreat and Training.

Jesus while praying for His disciples as narrated in John 17 wished that those who follow Him should be one as the Trinity is one. This initiative aims to have the worshippers within the multicultural faith communities live fully into that prayer of oneness with God and with one another. It can be made possible when people begin to know each other in worship contexts.