Intercultural Church: Shared learning from new communities

book cover and photo of Idina Dunmore

Intercultural Church is the latest publication from Grove Books; inset: author Idina Dunmore

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Intercultural church is essential for the future of church, says CMS pioneer MA graduate Idina Dunmore in a new Grove book she has written in collaboration with two other pioneers. Idina shares what motivates her and her fellow authors and tells us about the book, which is the latest in the Mission and Evangelism series in partnership with CMS.

When I completed the dissertation for my MA in Pioneer Leadership at CMS, having spent many hours reading, interviewing and writing, I was hopeful that I would be able to share my learning with others. I had reflected on the theological praxis of radical hospitality at the fresh expression congregation I had helped start at St John’s in Southall in 2017. This informal worship space, The Table, had welcomed people from many different faith, cultural and demographic backgrounds. As so many communities around the UK become more-and-more diverse, the learnings modelled by this intercultural community are increasingly relevant.

One afternoon at CMS in Oxford, Colin Smith approached me to ask if I would be interested to liaise with another Pioneer practitioner to write a Grove Booklet on Mission and Evangelism. Ben Aldous had grown an inclusive congregation centred around eating-together in Cape Town, South Africa. As Ben and I met and considered the structure of the text, we realised that an additional voice would be helpful, and we enlisted Mohan Seevaratnam who recently planted Mosaic church in Harrow, North London, and who has previously written on intercultural church.

As joint authors and practitioners, we worked to draw out theological intercultural understanding from the stories of our congregations. We specifically write about: hospitality, dialogue, mutuality, reconciliation in eating-together, and emergent worship from intercultural communities. The final chapter highlights some key questions that emerge, specifically around orthodoxy, communication, and the importance of openness to the other.

I think the joy of this short booklet is that it is borne out of real-life: the practicalities of growing new Jesus-centred communities in intercultural settings, along with the issues, questions and struggles that emerge. Grove Booklets are proud to be ‘not the last word … but often the first’, so the questions raised are not all answered. But our hope is that the reader increases their interest and awareness, finds some new theological resources to draw upon, and will have increased confidence in considering engaging with or setting-up a new intercultural community in their own locality.

As we state in the last paragraph:

‘It is our firm belief that this road is of paramount missional importance to travel on, and we invite others to join us on this learning journey. We are convinced that intercultural communities are part of the church of the future, and they need to be birthed now.’

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ANVIL journal of theology and mission

Volume 37 issue 1 is out now. The theme is mission and the arts, with reflections from practitioners including David Blower, Ian Adams and Lou Baker.

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