Some came from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Others are of African-American, Caucasian, Japanese and Filipino descent.
Serving rural churches, inner-city congregations and a church on an Indian reservation, 25 UCC pastors and lay leaders gathered with national staff including Collegium members April 23-25 at the Church House in Cleveland to share their experiences serving churches whose cultural makeup is different from their own.
"They are not flagship churches according to the conventional imagination," said Leung. "But as diamonds in the rough, they shine even brighter through their values, actions and service to their community."
Kimberly Whitney, minister for Community Life and assistant to the UCC's Collegium of Officers, said the event was "one of the most extraordinary LinK events I've experienced."
"The insights from these pastors into the life of the UCC was as remarkable and diverse as they are as pastors and as their congregations are across the country," said Whitney. "They are building beloved community with best practices and a passion for cultural exchange that is real, not always easy, and worth the kind of lively negotiation it requires."
"It truly is a process of sharing and creative 'we/thou' exchange of the pastor's cultural ties and the community's range of cultural ties – that brings everyone into a deeper and richer place of unity," Whitney said.
LinK lifts up the themes of commonality, friendship and fellowship. The program strives to enhance ministries by strengthening covenanted partnerships among local churches, church leaders and the national setting –– partnerships based on and driven by the Gospel.
Since October 2001, more than 600 UCC pastors and lay leaders have attended LinK events.
Read more about LinK.