Ethnos: God’s Crayon Box

by Rosemary Rorabaugh

In September 2014, Eastbrook joined together with other churches in Southeastern Wisconsin to plant Ethnos Church, a multi-ethnic church in the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood of Milwaukee. Since September, the church has grown, people have come to Christ, babies have been dedicated, and they are even holding their first membership class this summer. Rosemary Rorabaugh was a part of the group from Eastbrook that stepped out in faith to be a part of this new church plant.

I think of Ethnos Church as the “Revelation Communion.” Mixed and matched, blessed and bruised, we find ourselves thanking God for the rag-tag group of believers He’s brought together through Christ. We’re not perfect, we’re not professionals, and we’re certainly not always sure what He has us doing specifically, but we are united in a vision that we hold on to: every tongue and tribe, every age and identity, is called to praise our Creator together.

I am blessed to see God’s crayon box spilled out over our skin tones, His unique weaving in our hair textures. I hear His musical compositions in our voices singing His praises in the languages of His people from all over the world. I see His soft touch in our embraces as “we greet one another with a holy kiss.” I hear Him laugh with us when we have an issue in translation, and hear His deep tones in the various speech patterns in our conversations.

A multi-ethnic community isn’t about putting different people together to try to become the same. Instead, we celebrate the creativity of God’s design in His people.

This year was an awakening of “home” in my heart. Through the praying, planning, and launching (and now maintaining) of Ethnos, I have had to ask God to “bring me home” to Milwaukee. I moved here in 2013, when “All Nations Church” was rst being planned. Before that, I had never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line! I was torn in moving to Milwaukee. I originally thought it was God’s will for me to move overseas for mission work, but quickly learned to trust that He wants me to serve wherever I am! I am beginning to learn that home is wherever God is having me feed His lambs, keep His sheep, and feed His sheep. For now, that’s here at Ethnos!

My favorite memories from Ethnos are the quiet ones, the nameless ones. Moments like sitting on a summer porch talking about race and the church; prayer-walking through the neighborhood and hearing the gunshots down the street from us; struggling to pronounce Korean lyrics; watching kids shoot hoops after the weekly stacking of the chairs; bringing the absolutely worst pear cobbler to a potluck; chronically surprising everyone with the beat-box button on the complicated keyboard I play; breaking dishes repeatedly at my small group.

The humanity of it all is also the holiness of it all: despite our imperfections and failed attempts to have everything run smoothly, God meets us where we are, no matter who we are.