"Living in an increasingly multicultural world, we all benefit from learning about one another from one another," said Carolyn Porterfield, multicultural consultant for Woman's Mission Union of Texas and organizer of the Ethnic Leadership Summit hosted by WMU at its national offices in Birmingham, Ala.
More than 50 missions leaders from 13 states participated.
"As God has called our leaders, we have a unique opportunity to walk alongside them and help them develop to their full God-given potential," Porterfield said. "These leaders dream about 'what could be' for their churches and we've seen many of those dreams become reality."
The leaders also encourage and inspire one another as they share new approaches and ideas, Porterfield said.
"For example, the creation of Korean bilingual missions education materials for preschoolers and children encouraged other groups to dream," she said, "and at this summit, a Missions Plan Book in Vietnamese was introduced."
Keynote speakers Patty Lane, director of intercultural ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Linda Clark, former California WMU executive director, offered insight on cultural differences and ways to nurture relationships with multicultural audiences. During breakout sessions, participants shared their own experiences and ideas to learn from each other and gain a deeper understanding of ways to effectively serve and resource multicultural churches.
Connie Dixon, executive director of New Mexico WMU, attended the summit with eight other missions leaders from her state.
"We had a variety of women from various cultures and everyone agreed it was very beneficial," Dixon said of the Jan. 28-29 gathering. "The part of the summit that I value the most is how the women come home with a better understanding of WMU and are excited about what they can do amongst their culture. It is like the summit helps them to feel empowered to do more. Two of the women I brought were new to WMU and they left with so many ideas of how they could start WMU."
Julie Walters is corporate communications team leader for national Woman's Missionary Union.
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