Love for Jesus blurs cultural lines at Columbia church - Word&Way

Love for Jesus blurs cultural lines at Columbia church

COLUMBIA — All Nations Fellowship in Columbia crosses cultural lines because its members just love Jesus, Pastor Kenny Sherin believes. The church started for second-generation Koreans now attracts worshippers from several countries.

Columbia's Korean Baptist Church began the work about eight years ago. "The reason it started was several children of Korean church members who had pretty much grown up in America wanted worship in English," Sherin explained. "Then those started inviting their friends."

Many attracted to the fellowship are students at the University of Missouri, and most members are of Asian decent. Currently, the church includes people from Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, England and Puerto Rico. In the past, attendees have been from a few African nations, as well.

While it allows the newer congregation to meet in its building rent-free, the founding church supported All Nations Fellowship financially until about eight months ago. "All Nations still meets there but now it's more on its own," the pastor said.

{youtube}rw9b0EPvh8M?version=3&rel=0&showinfo=0{/youtube}All Nations Fellowship, meeting in Columbia, involves worshippers from a variety of countries, which can be seen in this 2009 video.

Even though members are culturally diverse, their love for God binds them together, more so than in many white churches, Sherin believes.

"The churches I pastored in the past have been smaller, mainly rural…. Gathering at the church was more of a social thing…and the church was part of [members'] social lives," he said.

"At this church…there is more of a spiritual aspect. They are there to worship God…. They are there because they love Jesus…. That's what's in common."

Currently working on a doctorate in rural sociology and rural development at MU, Sherin did not seek the position at All Nations. Bob Lively, former pastor at Columbia's Memorial Baptist Church, had been serving as interim pastor at All Nations. When he needed to be away, he asked Sherin to fill in.

The relationship with the congregation blossomed, even though Sherin had never worked with internationals. "It seemed to be more of a God's timing thing," he said. He had just completed service as pastor at Nashville Baptist Church.

But he is pleased to be part of the fellowship. "It has been really neat. It expands my ability to communicate faith cross-culturally," he said. "When we encounter new ways to look at the world,…it broadens our views."

Congregations that feel God calling them to reach across cultural lines can best serve by simply caring for others.

"The biggest thing I've learned is that people who have moved away from their family and friends just need to feel welcomed…. The need for community is strong…. Be intentional about reaching out…to help them feel they have a friend in town," Sherin said.