January 11, 2022

Serving Diverse Communities

How equipped are we as Christ’s agents of unity and reconciliation?

by Cathy Sigmund

Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC) is an Alliance congregation of over 3,000 who, because of our shared identity in Christ, embrace generational, ethnic, political, and cultural differences in our mission of “Following Jesus in Diverse Community.” ACAC rejoices in our corporate heart to reflect God’s wonderfully diverse Kingdom and praise Him for opportunities to incarnationally demonstrate His love within and beyond the doors of our church building. To this end, in October 2020, in consultation with local and national Alliance leaders, ACAC partnered with Crown College to launch ACTS (Alliance Centers for Transformation and Service) Institute.

ACTS Institute, championed by Rev. Dr. Rockwell Dillaman, former lead pastor, continues ACAC’s focus on God’s diverse Kingdom vision. Through ACTS, this vision is expanded to include education and training opportunities, as well as expanded service opportunities with the growing refugee and immigrant communities we now serve. God has indeed answered our prayer to give us the nations as an inheritance (Psalm 2:8). ACTS offers online and face-to-face education and training to better understand, reach, and serve ethnically diverse communities in matters of health and wellness, trauma-informed care, and intercultural engagement and service.

ACTS Institute was birthed in and out of the twin pandemics of 2020—COVID-19 and racial trauma/unrest. Respectively, ACTS responds to the need for culturally-informed approaches to health and wellness and the need for acts of love and compassion, which promote ethnic/racial healing. The Great Commandment is at the core of our mission—love God and love people—as we see in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We realized that as the Good Samaritan was the good neighbor and showed compassion for the ethnically different and moved in acts of sacrificial cross-cultural caring to the traumatized “others,” so should we. Thus, ACTS provides culturally-informed health and wellness courses and certificate programs aimed at better understanding and serving ethnic minority communities who often have increased health risks and barriers to care.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, ACTS, in partnership with community leaders and public health support, has assisted in educating over 1,200 people of ethnic minority, refugees, and in immigrant communities on COVID-19 care and best practices. We look forward to continuing to serve communities through culturally-informed health and wellness education. We also look forward to continuing God’s ministry of reconciliation to those who have sustained long-standing, and more recent, ethnic/racial wounds. To this end, ACTS developed the Good Samaritan ACTS of Healing awards, which serves to support initiatives that promote intra- and inter-cultural acts of healing, unity, and wellness, including the National Day of Racial Healing—the Tuesday following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In working with ethnic refugee and immigrant groups, we more fully understand that racism is not only an American problem, but a global fallen humanity problem. We believe that God has called us, His Church, to be leaders in healing and reconciliation. ACTS is excited to invite our Alliance family to join us in a Global Day of Racial/Ethnic Healing and Prayer, Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

On the ACTS website, we have provided a Day of Racial/Ethnic Healing Ministry Toolkit, which includes the Good Samaritan ACTS of Healing RFP and a proclamation (predominantly excerpted from the C&MA statement on justice and race), which will encourage you to reflect on our Father’s heart concerning ethnic/racial healing and reconciliation. Our blessing in Christ is that we get to do this together with Him and with each other. Please pray about how God may use you and your church to promote His healing here at home and among the nations.

Dr. Cathy Sigmund, CWM, is a licensed Alliance chaplain and co-founder/director of ACTS Institute. She serves as the director of Refugee Ministries at Allegheny Center Alliance Church (Pittsburgh, PA) and on the steering committee of the Alliance Refugee and Immigrant Network (RAIN). Cathy also serves on the C&MA Board.