Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Culture and Companionship Retreat, 2009

I just received an invitation to participate as a presenter in a Retreat scheduled for March 26, 2009. This is a gathering of Lutherans involved in building relationships with fellow Lutherans in Africa and elsewhere. We had a similar retreat at the same place last year, which I mentioned here.
Apparently, that retreat went so well that the organizers wanted to have it again. While the topic last year was Mission and Accompaniment, this year it will be Culture and Companionship. I am pleased to be invited as a presenter again, delighted that the retreat is going to focus on culture, a topic most dear to me.

I look back on the experience of last year, and the discussions we had, of the theory and practice of Accompaniment as articulated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the discussions of the challenges and opportunities of establishing partnerships between American congregations and congregations in Africa and other parts of the world. I recall, as well, the warm fellowship that pervaded our gathering.

Here I am with a fellow presenter on that day, sharing ideas.

Sharing ideas with a fellow presenter.

Talks in small groups are a great way to consolidate and expand on what transpires in the larger gathering.

I had been asked to bring my books, and here I am signing copies.

We took a group photo, to record this memorable day.

With all these memories alive in my mind, I look forward to the forthcoming Retreat. I look forward to intense and valuable conversations on the place of culture in human interactions. I believe strongly that, perhaps more than anything else, cultural differences are the most serious challenge we have to address when we seek to work with people of a different culture. Unless we understand them and find ways to leverage them, perhaps turning them into opportunities, the cultural differences will be a perpetual stumbling block or a nightmare.

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