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Golden Gate Seminary celebrates culture during Intersect ’05

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Opportunities for intercultural interaction in prayer gatherings, meals and panel discussions and an intercultural film festival were among the highlights of a weeklong celebration of intercultural community at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Northern California Campus near San Francisco.

Intersect ’05 was sponsored by the seminary’s David and Faith Kim School of Intercultural Studies and included special chapel speaker Emerson Falls, pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and a leader among Native American Baptists.

“It was the highlight of my semester,” said Shane Tanigawa, an M.Div. student from Hawaii. “Intersect ’05 was a time where we could worship God together. Sometimes we say, ‘You’re different, so I can’t worship like you.’ But this week showed how it can happen. It was a real celebration of our diversity.”

The chapel services on Nov. 9 and 10 emphasized intercultural worship styles, including hip-hop, Korean and Middle Eastern.

Falls spoke to students, faculty and staff during both chapel services. Falls told the audience of the cultural barriers Native Americans have experienced.

“Among Native Americans, 95 percent of our people today have rejected Christianity,” Falls said. “ … [A] lot of that has to do with the barrier of culture and the paternalistic attitude we have experienced.”

“God never gave [Christians] a common language. [He] never gave us a common culture. In fact the New Testament church was multicultural from day one. It was birthed in multiculturalism. What he gave us was a Gospel in common that we might share each in our own language.”

Falls then shared with the audience how he believes the cultural barrier can be overcome.

“I have come to understand that to be brothers in Christ doesn’t mean that we have to be alike. In fact, the real test is for us to be diverse and to be one … for us to be different and come together in spite of that. You can’t do that anywhere else in the world, except in the church. Only Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to do that.

“Culture can be a barrier or it can be a bridge,” Falls said. “I think it is a bridge when we let people use their own culture to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Faith Kim, chair of intercultural education at the seminary, headed up the Nov. 7-11 emphasis. “Our goal was to sensitize the cultural awareness of the seminary community,” she said. “We all value diversity according to our own cultural norms. Intersect ’05 sought to promote a bias-free celebration of the intercultural community God has created.”

The week also featured a film festival highlighting movies with a cultural message. Facilitated by faculty and guests who have experience in the culture, the films allowed for further exploration into cultural conflicts. The films included “The God’s Must Be Crazy,” “Lost Boys of Sudan,” “Smoke Signals” and “The Intercultural Classroom.”

“This is a great event for our students. Wherever they serve in the future, they will experience cultural diversity,” GGBTS President Jeff Iorg said. “Whatever the seminary can do to prepare our students to minister in these multicultural settings will deepen and enhance their ministry.”

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five fully-accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.

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  • Jeff Jones