By Deb Sengsavath, Communications Person at New Song UMC, Surprise, AZ
Culture hides more than it reveals, and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants. -Edward T. Hall
On behalf of the Desert Southwest Conference, Rev. Khalif Smith, of the First United Methodist Church of Mesa, and Peggy Burtt, Lay Person at Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church in Glendale, affably led 21 church leaders on the opening journey of how cultural formation influences lives. Because of the resolution passed at the 2021 Annual Conference, the West District has commenced the Cultural Competency module 1 training at various local churches.
Graciously hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Sun City and Pastor Kathleen Puntar, Rev. Smith laid the groundwork and vision for the district’s cultural training, entitled Cultural Competency Training, in the first of a five-year series of trainings. He encouraged the church leaders to engage, to be active listeners that participate with open minds in the discussion of one’s culture, and to trust the process set forth for the day’s training.
Culture can be understood as a way of life in its totality, across the daily boundary of time to the expansive time of multiple generations. To help church leaders grasp culture in a more concise and personal manner, Peggy Burtt led an activity on daily morning decisions in life, as she said “…our decisions are also based on our culture”. In turn, the training transitioned seamlessly to understanding culture and embracing diversity through a cultural iceberg analogy.
To some, the idea of cultural competency may seem a relatively new idea. For Edward T. Hall, this was his life-long work, extending from the middle of the 1970s to beyond his death over 10 years ago. Hall often noted that through his years of study, it was critical to understand one’s culture, rather than other cultures, to better comprehend what was hidden most effectively from its participants.
As the Desert Southwest Conference continues its work towards cultural transparency, please consider if you haven’t, this module 1 training. If you would like to request a training for your church, please visit the following link https://dscumc.org/religion-and-race/cultural-competency-training-initiation/.