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Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning 
Understanding of Intercultural Ministry:

As a community we work together toward God’s vision of Just Intercultural Community in which all are able to be fully themselves as created by God. Just Intercultural ministry includes right relationship with God, with each other, and with all of creation. The Biblical vision of Shalom, or Peace, and the idea of Beloved Community help us understand this vision.

We recognize that we have glimpses of this vision and our understanding changes as we explore and experience it together. We recognize that Just Intercultural community and ministry looks different in different contexts. Toward that, we work together to resource communities to develop and name local theologies and praxes. There are several documents that are helpful in understanding the Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning:

The History of FILL

FILL was born out of early twentieth century ecumenical energy in 1921 as The Canadian School of Missions. It’s mandate and name would change over the years and was known later as: The Canadian School of Missions and Ecumenical Institute; The Ecumenical Institute of Canada; The Ecumenical Forum; and The Canadian Churches’ Form for Global Ministries. In 2012 a process of consultation resulted in the focus of the agency shifted from resourcing overseas cross-cultural relationships to Intercultural ministry in Canada. You can read more about this history.

FILL Terms of Reference

In 2017, The Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning moved its administration, staff, and program into The Canadian Council of Churches and became a reference group of The Council. Read the FILL terms of reference.


FILL regularly engages in consultation that shapes its work. In 2018 a nationwide consultation, “Together Resourcing the Canadian Church in Today’s Diverse Contexts” with partners, stakeholders, program alumni and friends helped FILL shape its work:

The consultation identified four main needs in the Canadian context that shape the work: Training for Transformation, Gathering and Networking, Theology and Research, and Collaboration across Institutions. The work of FILL is also shaped by The Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network, which moved into FILL. 

How FILL does theology

In 2019, Fill’s Theology and Research Working Group drafted its own FILL Theology and Research Group mandate and purpose that help shape the work of FILL.

Engage Difference! Deepening Understanding for Intercultural Ministry (DUIM) programs

At the core of the work of FILL is a 5 day program offered in and shaped by contexts across Canada. The Engage Difference! program is “5 days focused on faith, heart, mind, and skills for the art of intercultural ministry”. Future program dates and registration are here. To explore hosting a DUIM program in your context Contact the Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning.

Intercultural Ministry Network

Intercultural Ministry is never done alone. Over 200 alumni of FILL programs and hundreds of others across Canada doing Intercultural Ministry are a network of support. The network shares and designs resources for ministry in Canada, gathers on-line and in person, and works together for a Canadian Intercultural Church. The easiest way to connect to this network is through the “Art of Intercultural Ministry” e-newsletter”. Contact us to sign up.

Resources for Intercultural Ministry

  • Bridging Intergenerational Gaps within Ethnic Immigrant Churches: Intergenerational gaps are as common in families as in churches, with far-reaching implications for the health of congregations. Yet open and candid discussions about intergenerational gaps within churches, particularly ethnic congregations, are rare and difficult. Dr. Ben C. H. Kuo, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Windsor, will address ways to: a) better understand common intergeneration gaps that occur among, immigrants, children, youth, parents, and families; b) identify how similar intergenerational issues can be observed and reproduced in church and congregational life; and c) respond and manage intergenerational conflicts/gaps in ethnic churches through communication, relationship building, and increased cultural empathy.
  • Strangers & Angels Unaware: Demographic Change, Church Decline and Radical Hope: Rather than lamenting the declining attendance in our churches as a bad/sad thing, what if we see it as a Divine invitation to a radical new hope, a re-conceptualization of church in Canada. Bill Millar, an intercultural ministry researcher & trainer, presents specific info on demographic changes and projections in the Canadian population, as well as patterns of church decline, and then explore strategies to lift churches out of shock and discouragement – helping them mobilize hope by opening their faith communities to more diverse populations!
  • Building Welcoming Spaces with Universal Design: Miriam Spies (UCC Minister and PhD student) and Alice Schuda (Centennial College) explore how to talk about and create welcoming spaces for People With Disabilities (PWDs) from a theological perspective. We also focus on the practice of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational approach that seeks to reduce barriers to learning and to address the different learning needs of students. In a diverse classroom, no single method can reach all learners. Multiple pathways to achieving learning goals are required!
  • Bill Millar, Engage Difference! program alumni and FILL reference group member created “Open Out”, a series of podcasts drawing on his experiences in ministry across diversity and his research on intercultural ministry.
  • Peter Noteboom, Acting General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, shares Reflections on Intersecting Unearned Privilege. This study for a group or self reflection was inspired by conversations at “Engaging Others”, a gathering of DUIM alumni.
  • DUIM alumni Niki Andre shares Embodied Practice Guidelines & Sense-Stones. “Embodied Practice Guidelines” is a way to remind people that intercultural ministry is more than “head” knowledge and engages all of who we are. “Sense-stones” is an easy way to help people tell their stories in a way that engages all 6 senses.
  • Mike Walker, a PhD candidate at the Toronto School of Theology helps us think about privilege by suggesting the addition of a 3rd dimension to the “Intersecting Axes of Privilege, Domination, and Oppression” in Embodiment as Third Axis Disability-Privilege.
  • Alumni of “Engage Difference! Deepening Understanding for Intercultural Ministry” designed Creating Spaces for New Immigrants. This program is designed to create safe spaces where newer immigrants to Canada can share their experiences of Canada’s culture and better understand the settler-indigenous history they have entered into.
  • Intercultural ministry means creating spaces where everyone can be fully themselves, be heard, and hear others. Program alumni have recommended tools for beginning to this in small groups: Eric Law’s “Mutual Invitation” offers an alternative to ‘volunteer style’ of interaction that favors those from individualist cultures excludes those whose interactions favor a collectivistic culture. Scrupling is an old Quaker practice that focuses on process instead of issues. The focus is on problems that prevent issues from being discussed and resolved.
  • Lots of great programs and activities have been designed by Engage Difference! alumni: Ha Na Park shares the Friendship Kitchen project in Winnipeg.
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 2020: The roots of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity go back to the 1800s; it is one of the oldest, most widely observed ecumenical events in the world. The materials on this website are designed to be of service to you not only during the Week itself, but throughout the year. Let them help you find ways to express the degree of communion already given to the churches, and to pray together that we may be more fully united one with another, and all of us with Christ.
  • Cracking Open White Identity Towards Transformation: The Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network has taken up the challenge of resourcing and accompanying communities of faith in their journey toward truth and reconciliation. This resource zeros in on White privilege as an essential aspect of anti-racism work. Racism is one expression of the White privilege and supremacy that is present in day-to-day interactions and built into systems and church structures. It is impossible to do anti-racism work without examining White identity and the unearned power and privilege that flows from that identity. This resource includes stories, biblical reflections, and workshops.
  • Mamow Be-Mo-Tay-Tah. Let us Walk Together: This resource from the Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network (CEARN) is designed to help Canadians engage with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools and better understand the legacies of colonization that Aboriginal peoples live with today. It includes the essays, testimonies and reflections in this resource are organized around teachings connected to the 4 quadrants of indigenous circles.
  • From Chains to Freedom: Journeying Towards Reconciliation (2007): On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by the British, this is a packet of materials on the slave trade and the practice of slavery in Canada for parishes, congregations and study groups including worship materials, biblical reflection, educational materials, children’s resources and much more.
  • For God So Loved the People of the World (2006): This kit is the fruit of five years of learning, reflecting and acting together in the Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network, representing our first attempt to jointly lift up the importance of anti-racism ministry in the member churches of The Canadian Council of Churches. The contributors to this resource kit come from a variety of traditions; each of them has worked from the heart, offering the best of what they know now of the topic at hand.

Anti-Racism – Since we embrace the ethical framework of justice and love, which is based on our Christian tradition, anti-racism is a crucial part of intercultural ministry.

  • Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network, Cracking Open White Identity Towards Transformation, Toronto: Canadian Council of Churches, 2012.*
  • Carl James,  Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture, 3rd ed. Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2003.*
  • United Church of Canada, That All May Be One – A Resource for Educating toward Racial Justice, 2004.*
  • Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, “Naming Racism: Speaking Truth to Power,” Making Waves Vol. 4:2 (2004).*
  • Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton, Courageous Conversations about Race, Corwin Publishers (2005) (Beginning Courageous Conversations About Race (Chapter 4) and Poster)

Cultural Studies – How we live and engage with others are profoundly shaped by our own cultural background. Cultural studies can help us to understand better about our own cultural assumptions and the cultural contexts of the others.

  • Hofstede Cultural Dimensions and Other Tools: www.geert-hofstede.com
  • Kaleidoscope Institute – for competent leadership in a diverse, changing world: http://www.kscopeinstitute.org/ (Training Programs)
  • Margaret Visser, The Way We Are, Faber and Faber, 1996.
  • Paul Bramadat and David Seljak, eds, Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto, 2008.*

Disability Studies – To be a welcoming church for all, we should incorporate voices and insights from disability studies to transform our churches and communities that function upon ableism.

  • Amos Yong, The Bible, Disability, and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God, Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.
  • John Swinton, Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader, Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2012.
  • Thomas Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, Grand Rapids, Mich: Brazos Press, 2008.*
  • Wayne Morris, Theology without words: Theology in the Deaf community, New York: Routledge, 2008.

Ecumenical Dialogue – Intercultural ministry goes beyond one’s own denomination and seeks for active engagement with people from different Christian traditions.

  • Faith and Witness Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Liturgies for Christian Unity: The First Hundred Years 1908-2008, 2008.*
  • Janet Somerville and Charles Hendry, An Affection for Diversity: a report of a Consultation on Education Ecumenically for the Canadian Council of Churches, Canadian Council of Churches Toronto, 1973.*
  • Per Harling, Worshipping Ecumenically, World Council of Churches, 1995.
  • The Margaret O’Gara Ecumenical Dialogue Collection: https://ecumenical-dialogue.ca*

Right Relationship with Creation – Right relationship with all of creation is part of our call of a holistic shalom. With our “home” being on fire, we cannot create Beloved community.

  • Andrew Baldwin, Laura Cameron, and Audrey Kobayashi, eds, Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada, Vancouver, BC: UBC, 2011.*
  • Citizens for Public Justice, For the Love of Creation: https://cpj.ca/for-the-love-of-creation-2*
  • Scarboro Missions: https://www.scarboromissions.ca/justice-peace-and-integrity-of-creation*
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier, The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet, Penguin Books, 2015.*

Truth & Reconciliation with Indigenous People – Continually seeking for truth and reconciliation with Indigenous People is a crucial task for all Canadians. Hence, intercultural ministry in Canadian context must work in this area.

  • Canadian Ecumenical Anti Racism Network. Mamow Be-Mo-Tay-Tah (Let Us Walk Together) Canadian Council of Churches. 2010.*
  • Medina, Néstor. On the Doctrine of Discovery. Canadian Ecumenical AntiRacism Network/Canadian Council of Churches. Toronto. 2017.*
  • Metcalf, Jeffrey. Truth and Reconciliation and the Doctrine of Discovery: Select Responses of Member Denominations of The Canadian Council of Churches to TRC Call to Action #49 on the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius. Canadian Ecumenical AntiRacism Network/Canadian Council of Churches. Toronto. 2017.*
  • Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within:  Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling and Reconciliation in Canada, UBC, 2010.*

Intercultural Theology & Ecclesiology – How does our intercultural lens inform our theology and ecclesiology and vice versa? These resources help us to engage deeper on this topic.

  • Agnes M. Brazal and Emmanuel S. de Guzman, Intercultural Church: Bridge of Solidarity in the Migration Context, Borderless Press, 2015.
  • Christopher Baker, Hybrid Church in the City: Third-Space Thinking, London: SCM Press, 2009.
  • Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Jann Aldredge-Clanton, eds, Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2017.*
  • Rob Fennell, ed, Intercultural Visions: Called to Be the Church, Toronto: United Church House, 2012.*

Interfaith – Interfaith is intercultural! Due to the intrinsic relationship between culture and religion, intercultural dialogue is also an interfaith dialogue.

  • Christian Interfaith Reference Group of the Canadian Council of Churches, Who is my Neighbour? A Window into the interfaith experience and potential of member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches, 2010. https://www.councilofchurches.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Who-is-my-neighbour-English-version.pdf*
  • Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, Bloomsbury, 2002.
  • Principles and Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue https://www.scarboromissions.ca/Interfaith_dialogue/guidelines_interfaith.php*
  • Stuart Matlins and Arthur Magida, How to Be the Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook, Fourth Edition, Skylight Paths Publishing, 2006.*

Mission and Witnessing – How do we witness our faith and engage in missional work in a non-colonial and respectful ways with those who have different beliefs and culture? These resources aim to answer this pivotal question.

  • Cathy Ross and Stephen B. Beavans, eds, Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context, and Prophetic Dialogue, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015.
  • Charles J Fensham, Emerging from the Dark Age Ahead: The Future of the North American Church, Ottawa: Novalis. 2008.*
  • Faith and Witness Library: https://www.faithandwitness.ca*
  • World Council of Churches, Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes.2013 WCC Assembly, Busan, Korea. Available at: www.oikoumene.org Viewed November 2014.

Social Justice and Diversity – If difference is to be rightly celebrated and embraced in our diverse society, we should examine carefully the power dynamic that exist. As a result, we should deepen our understanding of social justice and find ways to be in solidarity with marginalized communities.  

  • Abu-Laban, Yasmeen and Christina Gabriel. Selling Diversity: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Employment Equity, and Globalization. Ontario, Toronto: University of Toronto, 2008.*
  • Anne Bishop, Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People, 3rd ed., Winnipeg, Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015.*
  • Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network, For God So Loved the People of The World, Toronto: Canadian Council of Churches, 2006.*
  • Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, “Called to uncomfortable connections: Living with differences,” Making Waves Vol. 7:3 (2008).*

For a longer resource list, click here

* is used to indicate Canadian resources

The Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning Facebook page is a constantly growing resource for intercultural ministry with news items, videos, events and more. The DUIM network is invited to add and post to this page.