CrossCulture Spring 2014
Twice a year, CrossCulture brings young adults from across the city together in downtown Hamilton to worship through song, prayer, storytelling, and service in the community. On March 29th, 2014, 150 young adults, youth leaders, and Redeemer students spent the day working alongside local mission organizations.
In the morning, the youth gathered at Wentworth Baptist Church to eat together, worship, learn, and pray before going out to their work sites. Jeff Strong, Associate Pastor at Grindstone Church in Waterdown, spoke about building a Kingdom of stones, rather than an Empire of bricks. He explained that, just as in the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel, our society is built in a way that sees people as “bricks” instead of “stones”. In an Empire of bricks, people are conformed, reducible, functional pieces here to serve the Empire’s efficient purposes. In God’s Kingdom of stones however, each person is taken just as they were made, and used in their unique form to creatively craft human flourishing (cf. Genesis 11:3-4). He challenged students to consider their unique, God-given image, and to train themselves to see the people who they serve the same way.
Then the youth were able to practice what they learned about justice, mercy, and Kingdom-building. Each youth group was partnered with one of this year’s nine community organizations, including 541 Eatery and Exchange, Helping Hands, Neighbour 2 Neighbour, and City Kidz.
For some students, this was a first-time encounter with poverty, and particularly poverty so close to home.
For others, it was an opportunity to put their faith into action as they respond to poverty in their own city. It is always exciting to introduce a group of talented young people to great local missions and those who have dedicated their lives to serving the city.
During the youth group’s time serving, Jill Weber, Founder and Director/Abbess of GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer), lead students from Redeemer through some of the worksites and together they prayed over the neighbourhood and organizations.
In the afternoon, everyone returned to Wentworth and Jill shared stories of the revival of the ancient monastic practices of prayer, mission, justice, and intentional community here in Hamilton. As she shared her own testimony of being faithful to God’s call to step out in unexpected ways, she urged the youth to take the next right step in living lives of mission.
Returning to a place of worship after serving is a great way to teach that for all of the ways we can help bring justice in our city, it is ultimately God who is making all things new. It creates space for the youth to reflect and discuss the way eating together, singing, praying, and working are all forms of worship. And it is all used by God to craft his Kingdom in the city.
CrossCulture is such an important TrueCity collaborative event because it creates a culture where youth, the people who are the future of the church in the city, are not surprised when churches gather together to serve. There is now a generation in Hamilton who have grown up going to CrossCulture every year, and have been taught to expect that the Church worships together, prays together, and works together. CrossCulture seeks the good of the city not just by helping local missions in bi-annual tasks, but invests in the future of the church by giving the Spirit the opportunity to call young adults to lives of mission in the city.