The Celebrating Diversity service started with Rev. Ernesto Barriguete, who welcomed the congregants and invited the UMC to continue its hard work to have “MÁS [more] DIVERSITY.” Barriguete reminded us that there is a place for all in Heaven. The diverse
manifestations of worship offered to God Thursday night were a glimpse of Heaven.
Through the night, different worship leaders offered prayers of lament, truth-telling, and hope — always remembering God’s promise of a new and eternal life.
The celebration started with a traditional hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” led by our Native American brothers and sisters.
Through the use of martial arts, we were reminded of the importance of taking action to break with the sin of racism.
Bishop Leonard Fairley and several clergy came to the stage and were instructed to break wooden boards labeled with words representing racism barriers such as “inaction,” “disrespect,” “complacency,” and “injustice.” Those in attendance cheered and
celebrated the efforts to dismantle racism.
Rev. Kong Namkung closed the martial arts portion by addressing those gathered, “I hope that in God’s sight, all of you are a black belt for anti-racism.”
After this, other manifestations of love and worship to God followed including a Mariachi Band who sang “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” in its original Spanish, a vibrant Burmese team of musicians who reminded us to “count our blessings,” and a prayer by Rev. Edith Salazar-Veliz.
Bishop Fairley ended the evening by offering a powerful reflection and encouraged all to “sit down and learn a story different from our own.”