In January of 2004 a group of mostly 1.5 and 2nd generation Christians of a Korean immigrant church in Minneapolis was blessed by our “mother church” to launch a multicultural community called Church of All Nations. No one knew if 100 mostly young Korean-Americans could actually become a Church of All Nations; many thought the name was a bit premature, if not presumptuous.
Our central mission is to do the ministry of reconciliation, and it is happening in all kinds of wonderful ways here. For instance, in January of 2006 we moved from our “mother church” to a declining white PCUSA congregation which had plenty of space. We rented for a few months, but then Shiloh Bethany (Grace) Presbyterian Church asked if they might merge with us. At the end of July they had a congregational dissolution after being founded in 1884, and all of their members became members of Church of All Nations, handing us the keys and the title to the building. Incidentally, 1884 is the year that PCUSA missionaries first arrived on the shores of Korea. So we came full circle, historically speaking. Not one Shiloh Bethany member left after the merger – praise God! One of the key reasons for this union was the growing recognition of the need to be a new kind of church for an increasingly multicultural population in Columbia Heights and the entire Twin Cities area. Church of All Nations fit that need very well.
We witness many signs of growth in our midst, but the most important thing is that people are filled with joy, hope and genuine love for each other across all kinds of lines, crossing barriers erected by church and society, history and culture. Many of us who began this journey assumed that we would be dealing with much more conflict as many cultures and worldviews add to the complexity of congregational dynamics. What we have discovered, to our delight, is the exact opposite. The very decision to join a church in which one chooses to be a minority seems to draw the kind of people who are willing to “lay down their sword” of power and privilege. The Korean American founders had to set the example first. Today, we all seem to be caught up in a virtuous cycle of who can lift up and value other individuals and cultures, to “consider others better than oneself.” The culture of public confession, corporate repentance, joyful celebration and vulnerable relationality that we have cultivated here is key to understanding the dynamism and eschatological hope evident in our life together.
We live in the time between the “already” and “not yet”. Our church also sees itself between Pentecost in Acts 2 and the coming kingdom in Rev. 7, when all nations, tribes and tongues will glorify God together in one voice. We feel called to be an ecumenical church that embodies the major spiritual roots of the early church – to be simultaneously Rational, Sacramental and Pentecostal. We are also convinced that only intentional movement away from rigid denominationalism toward visible unity will lead the global church to recover its identity as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. We are a high-risk, low-anxiety church where anything is possible, including the possibility of failure. The only poverty we fear is the poverty of imagination. We feel so blessed with God’s abundance and grace. With humans, this is impossible. Thanks be to God who makes all things possible!