by Michael N. Jagessar
It felt like Pentecost on Saturday June 29th. It was a Carnival-like atmosphere. Celebration was in the air. Like that first Pentecost, people swarmed in from all over the place – with strange sounding foreign names. There were Ghanaians, Koreans, Scottish, English, Iranians, Irish, Nigerians, Caribbeans, Dutch, Australian, American, Hungarian, Zimbabweans, young and old, citizens and newer migrants – all mostly British – gathered at Kensington United Reformed Church. Even summer turned up in full glory for our rainbow of spiritualities celebration of our intercultural life together. And it was as celebratory as it was also an occasion to encourage, learn, discover, support, sing and pray in different ‘tongues’ and experience the amazing giftings of the membership of a small part of the United Reformed Church.
Among my moderatorial emphases is that of encouraging a series of conversations across the church, especially given our diversity and often polarised and parallel lives that we be drawn into as members of the United Reformed Church. To this end, I asked Ann Sardenson (Training Officer of the Thames North Synod) and John Campbell and Helen Matthews (of Urban URC Network) to plan and work towards this gathering, supported by the multicultural church, intercultural habit project. It was also an opportunity to do joined up thinking and work in delivering the annual ‘Cause for Celebration’ event!! For all the work they have put in (with a small planning group) and for all those who led sessions and workshops, I am (and the whole of the United Reformed Church)very grateful.
The event began with a time of learning and singing songs from a around the world and often sung in local congregations. These songs were put together by a team of singers and musicians and included a free booklet of forty-two songs with music and a CD to accompany the lyrics. There are extra copies if you need one! My ‘keynote’ address was integrated throughout the opening worship and located around seven readings of verses from the Pentecost narrative (Acts 2: 1-47). I briefly reflected on the themes (accompanying the verses read): all together, diverse and fired up, wine of astonishment – dreams and vision, rising up God-talk, poured-out spirituality, receiving the gift, and generously shaped.
Then there were workshops which included: praying the Pentecostal way, making mosaics, song sharing, letting the Spirit dance, song writing, drumming and rhythms in worship (Rainbow Rhythms), New Monasticism in daily life, Stepping into another Story (praying inter-faithfully). All these workshops were very ably led, were hands-on and had maximum participation from those who signed up. A generous and delicious lunch feast offered a great time for respite, recharging and buzzing conversations between the workshops. And our closing worship included aspects and items from most of the workshops. Indeed, there was a real sense and feeling of the power of the Holy Spirit at work at the event and in our working together! As we sang in Twi (Ghanaian) ‘Yi na ye’ (praise the Lord)!