The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
The Multicultural Ministry of Massachusetts (MCM) is a ministry where several Baptist organizations in Massachusetts such as Boston Baptist Social Union, The Baptist Charitable Society, The Conference of Baptist Ministers of Massachusetts, The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and the First Baptist Church of Bedford are pooled together for a common cause of "Weaving God's Love across Culture." The MCM Team is formed by having two representatives from each organization. The Team meets at least four times a year. It is an intentional ministry to listen to the needs ethnic churches that are growing in inner city like the Boston so that their struggles, challenges, achievements and celebration of the ethnic churches will be heard by wider body such as the American Baptist Churches, USA. The Multicultural Ministries strive to include ethnic churches and the refugees both the laity and the clergy in the life and decision making bodies of the American Baptist Churches USA.
Initially, one of the works of the Multicultural Ministry (MCM) was to work with the clergy in the ordination process. We continue to work with the clergy in the ordination process. So far in 2009, nine pastors have received ministerial standing in American Baptist Church. Many more are in pipeline. However, one of the major findings of the MCM in ethnic churches in Massachusetts is to develop strong lay leaders to support the ministry of the local churches. In many ethnic churches it is somehow expected that the whole ministry is anticipated to be shouldered by the clergy. Therefore, one of the important focuses of MCM is to encourage lay leaders' development in local churches.
Many of the works for clergy ordination is more clerical and administrative but working with the leaderships of the church is where most of the time and resources is spent. There are broadly two areas where the MCM have worked in 2009. The first work is with the refugees and the second work is with the ethnic churches and its leaderships.
In January 3, 2009, we organized Friends from Burma Reunion, in Allston, MA. More than one hundred refugees from different part of Massachusetts gathered. It was an opportunity for the refugees to get together. In some cases, even though they have lived just few miles apart they have not had the chance to meet with one another. It was also an occasion for the refugee resettlement agencies such as Lutheran, Social Service, Catholic Charity, and Jewish Family Service to connect with one another. We also had representative from the Massachusetts Governor's office that brought greetings during the function. Apart from the refugees from Burma, The MCM has also worked with the refugees from Bhutan in Lynn, Lowell, Dorchester and Worcester area. In various occasions, I on behalf of the MCM had meet with the refugee's families. In many occasions, our meetings were informal with some food to share with them, listening to their needs, connecting with the local refugee resettlement agency. We also discuss some of the issues related to cultural differences. For instance one evening, I received a call from one of the Bhutanese refugee family in Lowell asking me to come immediately to their home. When I reached their home there were people from Department of Social Service and Police at their home. The problem was related to disciplining their child, which was not acceptable according to the cultural norms of the United States. Giving some basic orientation to the refugee's family is an important component of the MCM. The MCM also have helped some families by giving them school supplies for the children and gently used winter coats. Geographically, the MCM ministry covers the whole of Massachusetts. However, many of the refugees and ethnic churches are concentrated heavily in inner city of Boston and in its vicinity.
In 2009 the Multicultural Ministry coordinator had the opportunity to meet with six local church leaders' meetings. A1l the meetings have been listening and understanding how the local churches function. I also had the opportunity to suggest some ideas of how to evolve a more effective and relevant local church ministry. We also had three ethnic churches retreats in Grotonwood over the summer. The Portuguese ethnic Group met from July 7-8, 2009, seventy one people attended the retreat. The Haitian Ethnic Group retreat was held on August 21-22, 2009 and thirty six people attended the retreat. One day retreat of Hispanic Ethnic Group was held on November 7, 2009; around thirty people attended the program. In all these programs, one of the goals was for ethnic churches and its leaderships to get to know various Baptist organizations. In all these events we had representative from BBSU, the Charitable Society, TABCOM various ministries such as
camping and conferencing, volunteer ministry, AB women, Mission and Stewardships, Minister and Missionary Benefit Board. Various ministries of the American Baptist Churches were introduced to the groups.
One would argue that all these events at not "multicultural" because these events were exclusively confined to one ethnic group. However, through these programs we affirmed and celebrated the diversities that existed within one ethnic group. Moreover, it was first of its kind for ethnic churches to come together and strengthened the relationships with one another within their own community. It also air out some of the unnecessary competition that might have existed between the local churches. In addition to above mentioned ministries I had the opportunity to attend various ethnic church anniversaries, ordination services, one and one meeting with ethnic church leaders. The MCM have had very exciting and fruitful ministries in 2009 and we have many ambitious plans for 2010. The MCM would like to sincerely thank BBSU for your generous financial support, without which we could not have performed the entire ministry.
These are the Ministries being plan for the year 2010
Geographically the MCM covers the whole of MA but most of the services are rendered in inner city including Boston. The services are provided to clergy, clergy spouses, lay leaders and children. The MCM ministers mostly to ethnic minority groups.