Spirit of Italy - Milan, Oct. 4, 2007

October 09, 2007

Spirit of Italy: Milan – Oct. 4, 2007


Fifty members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, led by Bishop Beverly Shamana, are currently engaged in Spirit of Italy 2007 – an inaugural event for the Conference as tour members visit 8-13 locales “to be stirred by God’s heart of creativity while building and deepening relationships as the Body of Christ,” in the words of the Bishop. Tour member are experiencing the art and architecture inspired by the Christian faith of Italy’s world famous artists, including Da Vinci and Michelangelo.


Among those taking part in this “spiritual journey of a lifetime” are Bruce Pettit, a member of the Conference Communications Commission, and Chuck Myer, who served as editor of the Connection. They agreed to file a series of stories about their experiences along the way.


In his first entry, Chuck Myer takes us to Chiesa Evangelica Metodista, where Methodists and Waldensians – Christians who also belong to the family of Protestant churches – worship together in a predominantly Catholic country.


(Pictured below: Bishop Shamana with Rev. Kristin Markay and Rev. David Markay inside Chiesa Evangelica Metodista.)


By Chuck Myer


In Milan, Pastor David Markay began to put the strands together.


He took refugees speaking English, Italians speaking other things, and others speaking Italian, and started weaving them into a group of diverse theology. His wife, Kristin, also a pastor, does the same thing. While in 1985 there were only a few immigrants across the country, this year there are three million immigrants coming into Italy.


Wednesday, he explained it to Bishop Beverly Shamana's group of 50 touring travelers.


One scripture in the group's opening worship was read by a woman named Patricia. She read it in Italian. David then read it in English, carrying out the points that made it consistent with English: points of common interest in the persons of the world being welcomed in the first service of Pentecost.


Then Eliana came forward. She spoke in deep Italian about the group of witnesses gathering around the church. It became much clearer when Ann Aldredge, a music minister in the church, translated her words into English. Eliana, who is a pre-Protestant Waldensian, told about the lively workers from Ghana. Her words were again translated into English. But her presence, as a Waldensian, said even more to those who are looking for worship other than Catholic – in a country where Catholicism predominates.


Obviously, the group has a lot of ministry to do.


Not to mention that flooding has taken some of the mission aback. Four times in the past month the church has had flooding. Four times, the water from below the church has risen up to climb into the building, mixing sewer water with waste.


Still, the mission keeps working. Pastor David took everyone down into the sanctuary, below the lower floor. There they held a short worship – with the Bishop and the Revs. Markay leading, with words to overcome the dread and doubt.


What a perfect way to begin our journey …