Picnic to feature cultural celebration, fellowship

By John W. Coleman

On Saturday, Sept. 7, with the idyllic days of summer leisure and Labor Day over, the Eastern PA Conference invites members and guests to one more outdoor fete for food, fun and fellowship.

The conference Commission on Religion and Race will sponsor Celebrating Our Cultures, an intercultural family picnic and cookout (yes, they are the same but not exactly*) Sept. 7, from 11 AM to 2 PM, at Innabah Camp & Retreat Center (712 Pughtown Rd, Spring City, PA). The first-time event, cosponsored by the Office of Connectional Ministries, is being planned to bring together primarily, but not exclusively, people of color to enjoy food, fun and fellowship, but also some intercultural sharing and learning about each other.

The commission realized at a spring monthly meeting that racial-ethnic leaders are gathering for so many serious discussions—especially racial dialogues for the conference’s institutional racism audit in 2018—that it is time to sponsor a gathering just for fun and for getting to know one another better interculturally. People of color participating in the audit, also known as the Butterfly Project, gathered cross-racially for a brief dialogue once last summer, a rare occasion for most.

Racial-ethnic church and conference members are encouraged to attend at least one more serious racial discussion a week after the intercultural celebration. It’s a seminar on Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation,” to be held on Saturday, Sept. 14,  at Simpson House (2102 Belmont Avenue, Philadelphia), from 8:30 AM to 3 PM. (Learn more about this important teaching and talking event that will address paths to healing from the trauma from racism that many experience, even unknowingly.)

“Celebrating Our Cultures is an opportunity for all communities of color represented in the conference to come fellowship and network,” said the Rev. Alicia Julia-Stanley, CORR co-chairperson, “but it’s also an invitation to supportive Euro-American sisters and brothers to come join usin this celebration.”

Planners are especially inviting racial-ethnic constituency groups and hope to attract a multicultural mix of at least 75 or more attendees for what might possibly become an annual event if it is successful. The event is limited to three hours to accommodate many participants’ busy Saturday schedules.

Innabah will prepare some basic cookout meats—beef and turkey burgers and franks—a salad and beverages. But guests who want to barbecue can use Innabah’s cooking grills or bring their own. Guests are encouraged to bring side items and desserts, especially cultural dishes, for others to share.

Guests are also encouraged to bring and briefly share:

  • cultural musical instruments, songs and dances to teach and perform;
  • cultural stories, poems and prayers that are uplifting, amusing or heart-touching;
  • cultural games and customs to share; and
  • cultural art and artifacts for show and tell.

Some excellent, cultural music will be provided, including the popular Philadelphia United Methodist Mass Choir, which sang at the Annual Conference Memorial Service in 2019 and 2018, and the Rev. Lydia Muñoz. More musicians and spoken word artists are being sought.

Families are invited. While $10 is the requested donation per adult, children under 16 pay nothing. Recreation available will include basketball, a playground and the always popular Gaga court. There will be no access to swimming.

Please register online in advance to attend this event, and include the suggested $10 per adult donation, to help us plan and provide enough food. Thanks!

*Research indicates some slight distinctions in definition among the terms “picnic,” “cookout” and “barbecue” although demographics may also influence which terms are preferred by different groups.  A picnic is an outdoor social event where prepared foods are brought to be eaten and where entertainment and/or recreation are often included. A cookout is an outdoor social event where food is prepared by grilling onsite. A barbecue is a cookout where the food or just the meats are typically slow-cooked using indirect heat, rather than grilled over a direct flame. Celebrating Our Cultures will be a combination of picnic and cookout.