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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Celebrating the Crossroads District Mosaix cohort

    July 27, 2021 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2021 Issue I of the Advocate, which focused on "celebrating who we are." Click here to access the full issue. 

    While twenty-twenty was a year we will all remember as the year that the coronavirus pandemic began, there were indeed celebratory stories taking place behind the scenes. One of those stories was the Crossroads District Mosiax Global Network learning cohort, which was made possible by the Ercil Cady Grant as well as the collaboration between the Crossroads District office and Upper New York’s (UNY) vital congregations Ministry Area.

    The goal of Mosaix Global Network is to help church leaders to develop multiethnic and economically diverse churches, churches of unity patterned after the New Testament church at Antioch, a church for all people.

    Mosiax Global Network was founded in 2004 by the Rev. Dr. Mark DeYmaz and Dr. George Yancey. Dr. DeYmaz’s vision for Mosaix Global Network was inspired by the work he had done after planting a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, Mosaic Church, which has grown into a thriving multiethnic and economically diverse congregation. 

    One program that Mosaix offers is the one-year cohort program; throughout 2020, six pastors in the Crossroads District participated in a Mosaix cohort. This program was led by Mosaix’s Director of Cohorts and Labs, the Rev. Chip Freed, and co-founder Dr. Mark DeYmaz.

    Rev. Freed is lead pastor of Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church, which he helped transform from a church that was 99 percent affluent and white in 2001 to a church that is now known as one of the most multiethnic and economically diverse churches in Ohio, in which the largest single ethnic group comprises no more than 52 percent of the congregation.

    The Mosaix cohort training for the Crossroads District consisted of monthly trainings via Zoom. The training usually includes two visits to multiethnic, economically diverse congregations, but this portion of the training was unable to take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The pastors that partook in this training were the Rev. B.J. Norrix, Lead Pastor of Syracuse United Methodist Churches; the Rev. Alicia Wood, pastor at University United Methodist Church; the Rev. Jee Hae Song, pastor of Hope Korean UMC and St. Paul’s UMC; the Rev. Dr. Sung Ah Choi, pastor of Marcellus UMC; the Rev. Rhonda Chester, Chaplain at Hendricks Chapel (Syracuse University); and the Rev. Andy Anderson, pastor at Bellevue UMC and Gethsemane UMC.

    On Monday Feb. 22, 2021, the cohort celebrated the progress they made over the past year. Rev. Freed said, “This cohort has been so much fun. I adore these pastors.”

    Dr. DeYmaz echoed Rev. Freed and said “This is a delightful group who have been very engaged and wonderful to work with.”

    The Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens, UNY Director of Vital Congregations, connected with Mosaix many years ago when he went to a learning lab they hosted. He worked alongside Rev. Freed and Dr. YeYmaz through the cohort the past year.

    Dr. Bouwens said, “It’s sad that we even have to say multiethnic. We’re all people...we need to be diligent in this work…moving away from the homogenous church.”

    Rev. Bouwens likened the Mosaix cohort training to an on-ramp to getting churches in the Crossroads District to becoming more ethnically and economically diverse.

    Dr. DeYmaz continued, “Mosaix helps churches to conceive, dream, and start taking steps to where they need to head in order to become more multiethnic and economically diverse.”

    Rev. Bouwens referred to Revelations 7: 9 as the scripture that underlies this work: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

    Agreeing with Rev. Bouwens, Dr. DeYmaz said, “this is not a one and done thing. Twenty years into this work, I’m still working on becoming an expert.”

    Dr. DeYmaz continued by saying that Revelations 7:9 is the end game, that we will all get there; he said “Christ taught us to pray that they kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven; heaven isn’t segregated so the Church shouldn’t be either so we have to look at this as collective sanctification and from season to season, whether it’s every season, every month, every year in your planning process, be intentional about your next steps forward.”

    All the pastors who participated in the training expressed that they gained great insight and inspiration.

    Rev. Wood said that it never entered her mind NOT to move toward a more ethnically divers church; however, she said, “I really appreciated the theology behind it. I am blessed that my congregation is already on this journey, but it is great to have the theology behind the goal of being a multiethnic church.”

    Dr. Ah. Choi said that she initially didn’t know how the Mosaix training would help her as her church is in a village where 97 percent of the population is white and less than four percent of the population lives in poverty. But she learned from Dr. DeYmaz that “location in no way should limit the possibility of creating a multiethnic church.”

    Dr. Ah Choi added, “What I learned is that regardless of the location of the church, building a multiethnic church is a biblical mandate.”

    Dr. Ah Choi created action plans to help build a healthy multiethnic church that include: her weekly prayer team praying to build an antiracist congregation, offering Imagine No Racism training to her congregation, celebrating cultural diversity on Pentecost Sunday, having the women’s book club read important books about dismantling racism, and empowering diverse leaders.

    Rev. Anderson said, “This Mosiax training has given me the opportunity to be more intentional with the guidance of the holy spirit and the authority of scripture in building a multiethnic congregation. I don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I expect it to happen at some point in time.”

    Rev. Jee Hae expressed that one of her churches is heading in the direction of being multiethnic; she said, “Hope Korean (UMC) has 10 people attending from six different ethnic groups. They are mostly college students.”

    She said that St. Paul’s is mostly white and that because she is Korean, it has helped her church open the eyes to the possibility of becoming multiethnic. She said, “I will gently push them to acknowledge that the world you live in is more than your neighborhood…to go and see the need…I will probably have them do it through mission.”

    The Mosaix training taught participants that a homogenous church cannot be vital and that this movement toward multiethnic, economically diverse congregations is not just a movement of justice alone, but a movement of theology, a movement of the Spirit.

    If you are interested in being part of a learning cohort with Mosaix, working toward an ethnically and economically diverse church, contact Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens, or by phone 315-898-2014.

    With more than 134,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 85 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."