Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Development of a Bicultural Personality for Christian Ministries

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Development of a Bicultural Personality for Christian Ministries

Article excerpt

All Christian ministries have the goal of communicating the inner meaning of the Gospel shown in Christ and are based upon relationships. Our world today is postmodern, multicultural, and multilingual. Caregivers have the imperative to develop a bicultural personality for the purpose of being competent and effective in their care. I do not discuss here how to do; rather I provide a conceptual framework of how to be in this new world as a way of reaching out in multiple ways to provide healing, reconciliation, guidance and leadership, and as a way of attending to the wounds of oppression, discrimination, colonization and racism. I also show the depth of woundedness in this world for both White and minority persons. The level of distrust in this postmodern world is rising, and we must work to heal and empower one another to increase trust and depth in relationships. For caregivers, trust and depth in relationships converge as aspects of call, vocation, competence and ethics. Call and vocation speak to the Christian invitation in the Baptismal Covenant to live by faith, hope and love, and to practice that which we profess in the continuing work of transforming of the world in the Name of Christ. Competence speaks to effectiveness in our multiple callings of ministry. Ethics speaks to proficiency in concrete situations and boundaries of function without hurting another or self. As a whole, depth and trust encompass sincerity, openness and honesty. Let me begin our journey of developing the new self, personal and communal, by giving an illustration.

One morning I had a conversation with a Caribbean church member. We were discussing the rite of Christian baptism. One of the issues raised in this context was the infant's dress for the service. She reported, "At home children are dressed in white, with girls covering their heads." The second issue raised was the role of godparents. She reported that they are involved in the spiritual, economic and parenting life of the child. Third, parents, extended family, and friends need to have an elaborate "christening party" to welcome the newly baptized into the community and begin the journey of participating in the spiritual formation of the newly baptized. It takes the whole village to raise a child spiritually. The fourth issue concerned the church community's celebration in our church hall. The immediate community of faith needed to participate in this activity of excitement and taking of responsibility. Fifth was the issue of keeping costs low, yet allowing the community of faith participation with a Caribbean flavor. As a single parent, the woman reported that economic issues were significant, for she had decided to raise her children without the help of Public Aid.

An underlying dynamic which was not raised in this pastoral conversation (but was in the back of my mind) was the fact that our congregation is 60% Caribbean, 10% African, and 30% AfricanAmerican. There have been lots of disagreements and hostilities between the Caribbeans and African-Americans on such issues as the meaning of eating-rites in cultural and Christian contexts. Priests have been implicated in these dramas, sometimes hurting parishioners or parishioners hurting them. I had to attune myself to the Caribbean culture, majority American culture, African-American culture, and the faith and community culture described in The Book of Common Prayer. I use the term "culture" to describe an organized body of set rules emanating from the core value and value system which give a group of people ways of defining themselves, communicating with one another, thinking about themselves, behaving toward one another, and relating to objects in their environment.' The core value of a culture as the organizing center extends itself into defining the value system, which includes relational systems, religious and spiritual systems, logic, contracts, contact boundaries, ideals, marital relationships, worldview and time consciousness. …

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