Saturday, June 16, 2012

Examining Case Studies in Multicultural Ministry

Below is the second reflection submitted by Michael Khong for the the course Ministry in a Multicultural Church.  The course is taught by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.  Readers may find Michael's first reflection here.

Coming Together as the Family of God
by Michael Khong

Conflicts between different cultures can also be found in the church setting.  The article of Case Study No. 7 is a good example of these.  In the Riverdale community, there is an adult religious education program.  In the past five years, people from Southeast Asia and Korea have migrated into that community.  This short article talks about the conflict between Mr. John Kim, a Korean migrant, and Leah Watson, the Adult Religious Education Director.  For this paper, I will summarize the article and a similar conflict in my home parish.

A certain Korean named Mr. John Kim came to pastor Ted Jones to complain about the religious education program.  John Kim says that during the program meetings, they are asked to share very personal and emotional stories.  He says this is a very American orientation and the Asians are uncomfortable with it.  He requests that a separate program be created specifically for the Asian members of the church congregation, something that suits this conservative culture.

Michael Khong

Leah Watson, the Director of the Religious Education Program, disagrees.  She says they don't have enough money in the budget to form a separate group.  Also, if they give in to John Kim's request, then they would have to give in to every request from different groups that would come along the way.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More Stumbling Blocks

Bother Nicholaus Wilson has submitted this reflection from Ministry in a Multicultural Church, a course taught by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.  Another reflection on this reading can also be found on the journalism blog.

The Stumbling Block of Superficiality
by Brother Nicolaus Wilson

In an article entitled "Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural Communication," LaRay M. Barna addresses issues that arise when persons from different cultures meet.  Barna identifies six obstacles which can inhibit clear communication across cultural groups. 

One of the obstacles identified how smiling is interpreted by various cultural groups.  If we assume that all cultures interpret a smile in the same way then it can lead to problems.  In American culture smiling is seen as a common courtesy.  Barne's quotes one Vietnamese student's reaction to the way smiling is interpreted differently in American than in Vietnam.  The comments are too lengthy to repeat here, but the main point is that the student saw the casual way in which Americans smile at one another as a reinforcement of the stereotype that Americans are superficial.  This comment gave me pause to reflect on my own superficiality.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hispanics and Catholicism

Michael Khong, a student in Ministry in a Multicultural Church last semester, shares this theological reflection.  The course was taught by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.

Editor's Note: "Many Faces in God's House" is part of the assigned reading for Ministry in a Multicultural Church.

A Theological Reflection
by Michael Khong

In the article "Many Faces in God's House," I find it interesting how the Hispanic communities have contributed to the Church here in America.  I also agree with Archbishop Edward McCarthy of Miami who said, "Hispanics are not a problem to be dealt with, but a gift to be appreciated."  Virgilio Elizondo, the author of the article, describes how Hispanics can contribute to the Catholic Church in this country, namely with these characteristics: home-centered, festive, devotional, visual and avant-garde.

Michael Khong

Just like other ethnic groups in the United States, Hispanic Catholicism celebrates many feasts throughout the liturgical year.  Las Posadas, Navidad, Semana Santa, Die de la Virgen, and other feast days give Hispanics a "profound sense of belonging to the communion of saints and connectedness to the divine life."

From my experience, one thing that stands out the most is when I attended the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Friday, December 12, 2008, in my home parish.  The capacity of St. Columban Catholic Church, my home parish in Garden Grove, CA, is 1500 and began to fill with thousands and thousands of Mexican Americans who came from the local area.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Conversation and Stumbling Blocks

With this reflection by Joshua Keeney from Ministry in a Multicultural Church, the MAS journalism blog continues to share student work from a variety of seminary courses.  Ministry in a Multicultural Church is taught by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.

Tendency to Evaluate
by Joshua Keeney

After reading the article "Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural Communication," many points speak to me, but the main point that has remained in my mind is the fifth stumbling block.  This stumbling block is the "tendency to evaluate, to approve or disapprove, the statements and actions of the other person or group.  Rather than try to comprehend thoughts and feelings from the worldview of the other, we assume our own culture or way of life is the most natural" (Barna 182). 

In other words, the trap of assuming everyone grew up with the same upbringing I did and has no life experiences other than those which I have been through is a regular point of contention and struggle when conversing with others of differing cultural and religious views.  This is the talking point which will be evaluated and expounded upon in my specific experience and continued theological reflection.

Joshua Keeney

This specific stumbling block and way of approaching dialogue with others has been a mainstay in my way of thinking and communicating with others and was recently challenged, though not individually and focused on me but rather the group as a whole, while attending an ecumenical and interfaith conference with Protestants and Jews.  From the beginning, the desired attitude of the conference relayed from those who were leading was for the participants not to proselytize others or become cut off from a conversation because they disagreed or were angered with comments spoken by another member of the dialogue group; on the contrary, they wanted all members to become involved in the discussions and feel free to share their own specific feelings and ideas without the necessity of arguing.