On February 1-2, approximately 115 participants, representing churches throughout the United States, attended the Conversations of Hope Multi-Ethnic Symposium, held on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The event, planned in partnership with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) National Mission Affiliates, Black Clergy Caucus, and Board for Black Ministry, is designed to present various expressions of the theological, sociological, and economic hope that are evident within the various ethnic communities of the LCMS. This was a follow-up to the 2008 Multi-Ethnic symposium, Expressions of Hope.
Speakers included Rev. John Nunes, Rev. Lang Yang, Rev. Dr. Eloy Gonzalez, Rev. John Schmidtke, and Rev. Stephane Kalonji. They presented examples of hope from their respective ethnic communities in the LCMS. Participants were encouraged to reflect on these instances of hope and to consider the theological implications they offer.
Participants’ comments included: “We need more such conversations!” “The conversations were wonderful…there was a strong desire expressed to see concrete action take place beyond this symposium.” “Many issues were brought to the table that needed to be said!” “(It) gives hope for the future of the LCMS.”
Rev. John Loum, director of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) at Concordia Seminary, commented: “The first question asked at the symposium was: ‘Why am I a Lutheran?’ The typical Lutheran would answer that they’re just born Lutherans. But for ethnic groups, the Lutheran church has a very strong doctrinal emphasis and everything is based on the Scripture. That’s why they choose to be Lutherans.”
The Multi-Ethnic Symposium was made possible in part by a generous grant from LCMS Lutheran World Relief and Human Care Executive Director Rev. Matthew Harrison.