During Big Tent, held here Aug. 1-3, the Racial Ethnic and Immigrants Convocation will sponsor a luncheon and worship service featuring the Rev. Claudio Carvalhaes, associate professor of worship and liturgy at Lutheran Theology Seminary at Philadelphia.

The convocation and the National Multicultural Church Conference are co-sponsors of Carvalhaes’ appearances, including an Aug. 2 plenary during which he will preach on “Praying the Faith in a Multicultural Context.” 

Carvalhaes, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, earned his Ph.D. at Union Seminary, where he focused on such issues as globalization, immigration, multiculturism and post-colonial theologies and liturgy. He is a noted liturgist, theologian, writer, artist and activist, but is probably best known for the eloquence of his sermons. 

In an interview with The Racial Ethnic Torch, Carvalhaes, who in his youth worked as a sidewalk shoeshine boy, said: “Christianity is more about love and less about faith, so meetings like (Big Tent) are wonderful opportunities to learn about our diversity and how to love one another.” He said he hopes “we all will be fired up to go back to our churches to make changes, stick together and open ourselves for the challenges … of the spirit.” 

The interview included this exchange:

What is it about the PC(USA) that gives you confidence that it will continue to become a more inclusive and diverse church?

To be honest, I am not that confident. I am hopeful but not that confident. The processes of the church are too slow, and I have seen enough to know that this project is always in a perilous stage. As soon as we start to shift/move/open things, the powers that be get scared and find ways to make it more difficult for us to be included.

Workshops sponsored by the convocation include: Building the Beloved Community of God (anti-racism training); How to Start and Grow New Immigrant Worshiping Communities; Family of Origin and Images of God; Changing the Politics of Poverty in Racial Ethnic and Immigrant communities; Celebrating Native American Ministry in the PC(USA); the Strength of Sisterhood (women only); Consensus and Community: How to Make Decisions as the Body of Christ; and Where Are the Young People?

No doubt there also will be discussions and conversations about recent events in the news, including the killing of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of George Zimmerman; efforts in Congress to find agreement on immigration reform; and removal of food stamp money from the recently passed Farm Bill.

John Filiatreau will be covering the Racial Ethnic and Immigrants Convocation at Big Tent 2013.