Mike: Have you heard that a new church has started in the community centre?
Tim: Yes, someone did mention it. It has a rather strange name – The Church of the High Priest Jesus Christ. Where in Africa are they from?
Mike: I think it is from somewhere in the CAR.
Mike: Central African Republic. It seems their services are in French.
Tim: Do any of them speak English?
Mike: I think most of them do and certainly the Pastor, but they are happier in French or Sango
Tim: So have you met the Pastor?
Mike: Yes. I asked her why they were opening another church in town. She said that no one else was putting on a service in French and their people found it more helpful to worship in their own language.
Tim: Have they been able to attract other French speakers?
Mike: Yes they say that there are some other Francophone Africans that have joined them as well as some English people who are brushing up their French.
Tim: Anything else distinctive about them apart from the language and the ethnicity?
Mike: Well I am not sure about that. They seem to have some ideas about Jesus as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek that they learned from an African prophet in CAR. The Pastor started using French and Sango words to explain it and I rather lost her. But otherwise she seemed sound on the Gospel.
Tim: Should we invite her to join our evangelical ministers’ group?
Mike: I would like to. It would be good to integrate her more into the Christian life of the town, but I am not sure that Dave would agree unless she can fully tick all the evangelical boxes and Pete might be worried about precedents we would set in having a woman Pastor amongst us.
Tim: Tricky. I suppose she could join the Churches Together, but then she would be meeting with fewer evangelicals and who knows what she would make of Father Cedric!
Mike: So should we just leave them on their own and not try to develop relations with them?
Tim: I think they and we would lose out a lot if we did that. I am especially concerned about their young people. They still speak French and Sango, but they are more and more communicating in English and adopting the culture of their peers. A few of them have started to come to our Youth Group and I have been impressed with their Christian faith. When they talked about how their parents have suffered, but trusted in God and grown in faith, our young people were surprised and, I hope, challenged. I have talked to some of them about what it means to be a Christian in the local school and they said that they found that helpful, because their church leaders were still thinking in terms of teenagers in villages back home in Africa, and, sadly, many of the British Christian teenagers are content just to go with the flow and not wanting to stand out.
Tim: Well what should we do?
Mike: I think you and I need to talk to Dave and Pete first. They know that we are on the same page evangelically, except for our views on women’s ministry, and hopefully they can see the Gospel priorities in establishing a relationship with the Pastor. Then perhaps we could meet with her and try to understand more about the background to the church and their beliefs. From what I could understand their views were no stranger than some of the dispensational views of Hank at the Covenant Baptist Church, and we seem to fellowship with him OK.
Tim: Yes let’s try that. We don’t want them to think we are unwelcoming and we wouldn’t want an evangelical church with a different ethnic background to be regarded as a cult. Above all we need to begin to work with them so that they don’t think we are trying to steal their young people. I would like to try to develop a working relationship with them so that we have a clear witness to the cross-cultural unity we can have in Christ.
Mike: Agreed. It would be good sometime to have a more detailed discussion about ethnic churches and what their role should be. Another coffee?
 This is a purely made up name. Apologies if there is any church of this name.