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Rainbow Ministry: Summit Equips Leaders for Ethnic Outreach

Religious organizations targeting immigrant populations seek to make the church an embassy.
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Though English was the group's common tongue, the service at the National Ethnic Workers' Summit at Biola University near Los Angeles started with a prayer in Spanish and later gave way to the lively tones of an Andean flute.

"The Holy Spirit is bringing to us across the entire globe," Fuller Theological Seminary Professor Charles Van Engen said earlier in the day. The closing session seemed tangible proof of the professor's words.

Drawing more than 500 people over three days in late April, the summit was sponsored by the Ethnic America Network, a group of evangelical Christian leaders concerned with the challenges and opportunities of the mushrooming ethnic diversity in the United States. The network belongs to Mission America (MA), a broad coalition of evangelical churches and church organizations. It works with groups that "consider themselves immigrants," according to Corkie Haan of MA.

"Our purpose was to get as many people working in the same area together so we could get to know each other," said Nick Venditti, international director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Institute of Theology by Extension and a member of the summit's organizing committee.

"It's to connect," said Allen Belton, so "people know who is doing ethnic work and in a way that ethnics can relate. So many times, the intention is to get the word out, but it's done in a fashion that is culturally insensitive."

Belton, who is director of the Department of Urban and Global Mission at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, cited a unique dimension of the summit: equipping evangelical workers for ministry who are themselves members of ethnic minority groups.

Russell Begaye, summit chairman and head of the multiethnic church-planting unit of the Southern Baptist ...

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