AURORA, Ill.—Wanting to emphasize multicultural ministry for its fall state meeting, the Illinois-Missouri Association of Regular Baptist Churches sponsored a Worship Celebration featuring a choir from Ukrainian Baptist Church, Berwyn, Ill.; a worship team from Fil-American Baptist Church, Chicago; and a sermon from Pastor Greg Randle, Waukegan Baptist Bible Church, Waukegan, Ill.
“As soon as I open my mouth, people ask where I am from,” Pastor Alexander Kalinin says with a rich Slavic accent. He formerly pastored an underground church in Ukraine, and most of the congregation of Ukrainian Baptist Church is from the former Soviet Union.
“I am glad this is a multiethnic service,” Kalinin says. “When I think of a multiethnic group, I think of Heaven, when the white-robed elders sing, ‘For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’ ”
“And when they sing, it will not be songs about the nations, it will be songs about our great God!”
The 38-voice choir from Ukrainian Baptist Church sang three songs just as they would on a typical Sunday morning at their church—powerful, refined four-part harmony, with all the words in Ukrainian. But English-speaking guests to the Berwyn church will not feel out of place; the church provides wireless headsets with an English translation of the service.
After the Ukrainian choir sang, Lito Briones from Fil-American Baptist led the entire congregation in worship, with solos from Annalee Ramirez and Joann Basillo. Everyone in the congregation, no matter their church background, knew familiar songs such as “Jesus Paid It All,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Above All,” and “God of Wonders.” (“You guys sing all of the same songs we sing on Sunday,” Pastor Greg Randle later told the group.)
Fil-American Baptist Church joined the association at the 2010 GARBC Conference. “I came to the church in 1996 and for 14 years we were an independent church. I am so glad we have joined the GARBC,” Pastor Ruel Akut says. His church is busy planting another Philippine church in the Chicago area.
Waukegan Baptist Bible Church started in a garage, planted by a family transplanted from Decatur, Ill. Today the church owns a building that was formerly a Jewish synagogue. The congregation intends to be “a church for all people” and emphasizes this with pastoral ministers from Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and the West Side of Chicago.
Pastor Greg Randle , a graduate of Carver Baptist Bible College, Kansas City, Mo., drew his sermon on “Confronting Racism in the Church” from Galatians 2. “We have a lot of Christians in 2010 who are still thinking like slaves, who are still talking like slaves, who are still living like slaves, although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed 2,000 years ago by the blood of Jesus. We still don’t know how to treat one another,” Randle says in his sermon. His words are penetrating and worth our study (hear the entire sermon at www.vbcaurora.org/2010conference).
Earlier in the service, Bernie Augsburger recalled his first visit to the Waukegan church and his own awkward moments learning about the traditions of African American worship. Surrounded by vibrant worshipers clapping their hands in rhythm, Augsburger was, well, less vibrant.
Noticing the staid pastor next to him, Pastor Greg Randle offered Augsburger some quiet advice: “Brother, you need to loosen up!”
Bernie delivered a deadpan response: “This is loose.”
Listen to sermons from the 2010 ILMO Fall Conference, “From Many, One”
- “Confronting Racism in the Church” — Pastor Greg Randall, Waukegan Baptist Bible Church, Waukegan, Ill.
- “A Biblical Theology of Multi-Ethnic Ministry: OT through Pentecost” — Pastor Scott Greening, Great Commission Baptist Church, Schaumburg, Ill.
- Panel Discussion with Pastor Greg Randall and Pastor Ruel Akut.
- “Three Problems Keeping the Church from a Heart for Multi-ethnic Ministry” — Dr. Ray Clark, Baptist Bible Church. Decatur, Ill.
- “A Biblical Theology of Multi-Ethnic Ministry: Pentecost to Revelation — Pastor Bob Stevenson, Village Baptist Church, Aurora, Ill.