This is turning out to be a busy Spring in my work as a cultural consultant. I started the year with a meeting with students and instructors from Gustavus Adolphus College, who were preparing to travel to Tanzania on a study abroad program. Our conversation centered around my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, as I reported here, and as one of the students reported here.
Two more presentations are planned for this Spring. The first one will be to students from South Central College who are preparing to travel to South Africa on a study abroad program. This is going to be the second time I am speaking to students from that College, as part of their preparation for the South Africa trip. Their instructor, Rebecca Fjelland Davis wrote a report of that meeting on her blog.
I am looking forward to this occasion. I am used to speaking about cultural issues with American student groups going to Africa. I am used to speaking with individual Americans on their way to Africa.
What is going to be somewhat different is a conference in mid April with members of congregations from the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Cannon River Conference, as it is called, will take place in Zumbrota, Minnesota. These people are not going to Africa, at least not as a group. There might be individuals who have visited Africa or who might visit in the future. On the contrary, these people find themselves enmeshed in modern globalization, having to deal with immigrants, some of them African.
The organizers of the Cannon River Conference have invited me to speak on "Incorporating Immigrants Into Our Culture and Worship." This is going to be a unique experience, with aspects not encountered in my talks with students going to Africa. The cultural focus will be there, but it will have to be tied to the issue of worship.
As I think about this, I recall a workshop I helped conduct on the issue of culture and companionship. The workshop brought together Lutherans from Minnesota and Wisconsin to explore evangelism in the global, multicultural context. I wrote about this workshop on this blog, and I might incorporate some of that commentary in my forthcoming talk.