The St. Louis Central Church enjoys a wide variety of cultural and national diversity and, in celebration of this fact, recently held their fifth annual International Sabbath.

The members believe the Bible encourages this diversity through passages such as, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The Apostle Paul’s message is clear—people are one in Christ regardless of background, origin, ethnic heritage, age, gender or any other differences. In this lies unity, strength, comfort and hope.

The Parade of Nations was held during the Sabbath services. This year 30 countries were represented, with members each dressed in an impressive presentation of national colors and outfits as they marched to the front of the church.

This served as a moving reminder of the image of God shown in Rev. 7:9: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb …”

The International Food Festival served as the second high point of the day. The Forsyth School next door provided their gymnasium as the venue, and a small army of members prepared a variety of wonderful dishes from around the world.

The festival was promoted through social media and drew between 500 and 600 people, mostly from the surrounding community. Food served at the festival was free, but canned food and monetary donations were collected for local Adventist Community Services projects.

As a followup to the International Food Festival, the church is hosting an International Cooking Series. This ongoing class features food demonstrations from a different country each month.

The success of these events has generated interest, enthusiasm and momentum among members and guests. The diversity of food is rich and wonderful, but this event is also a celebration of the cultural diversity within the church family. This diversity helps establish a greater presence in the community.

The St. Louis Central Church is grateful for the many members who volunteered their time to make their fifth annual International Sabbath a success. They praise God for helping them recognize what a precious gift diversity really is.

Fred Schlichter is a member of the St. Louis Central Church in St. Louis, Missouri.