VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/15/23)—Fulfilling American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) missional priorities of cultivating leaders and equipping disciples, the lead team of the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) hosted the Intercultural Leadership Institute: A Preview on November 3 in King of Prussia, Pa. Aimed at “faith leaders and disciples courageously fostering transformed beloved communities across race, ethnicity, and other cultural distinctions,” the event presented a rich variety of resources soon to be available through the ILI.
“This is a very important briefing and sharing about the Intercultural Leadership Institute and the emerging vision for this work in the critical times we’re living in,” said Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director, in his welcoming speech. Emphasizing the need for leaders who are proficient at collaborating across cultures, he added, “We don’t want to be keepers of the status quo where folks are segregated by ethnicity, by language, by cultural identity. ABHMS is trying to play its part and provide some pathways for intercultural leadership. And I think [Intercultural Ministries team] is modeling the kind of work that should be happening across the board, the local churches, regions, and so forth.”
Faith leaders who hope to become effective leaders in multicultural contexts, including young adult leaders, will be able to access resources divided into four categories:
- Tiered education series: Learning experiences offered through the ILI and select network partners that aim to lay a broad foundation and framework for intercultural leadership (Tier 1), cultivate character development and skills mastery (Tier 2), and equip leaders for the ABHMS ILI Consultancy Network (Tier 3).
- Communities of practice: Ongoing affinity groups who gather for peer learning and benefit from facilitator guidance within the scope of distinct types of intercultural leadership contexts.
- Digital media resources: An annotated resource bank for intercultural leaders offered via an online platform and a quarterly e-newsletter.
- Consultancy: A network of ILI-aligned trainers and facilitators available for direct training and consultancy with clients.
“It’s so important that we do this work because our context, our mission field, our nation, is becoming more and more culturally diverse. It is a biblical imperative for us to learn how to value all of God’s people,” said the Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, ABHMS director of Intercultural Ministries, commenting on the aims of ILI. “And that’s really what we’re trying to do—build beloved communities across our differences. Having this event with people in our constituency is so important because we hear what’s relevant to them, what they need in their churches for their ministries to thrive. It’s through that conversation that we can meet their needs.”
ILI preview participants had an opportunity to test the resources. They analyzed case studies and conducted self-assessment exercises, which they later discussed in small groups. The resources were received with great interest.
“I love this idea! Good for all generations,” enthused Lisa Simmons, the S.A.L.T. program leader at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. “I believe there will be some people who want to test the waters first and would want to look at a resource that tells them a bit more. Also helpful to local churches who hesitate to reach out to the team before they know more.”
Another attendee, the Rev. Frank Walton, interim pastor at Community Baptist Church in Warrenville, Illinois, commented, “Loving the sneak peek and spark toward a greater future.”
The four program areas will be rolling out over the next three years as components are developed, starting in early 2024. The best way to stay informed of the next ILI offerings is to sign up for the ILI community email list at ILIsignup. General questions can be directed to email@example.com.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.