Sunnyside Holds International Day Celebration
Anticipation and eagerness was in the air, and people greeted each other with an extra sparkle in their eyes and warmth in their voices. Soon Sunnyside Church’s Jan. 26, 2019, church service in Portland, Ore., began with flags from 35 different countries proudly carried to the front of the church, each by someone who claimed that nationality. Most were thrilled to be dressed in traditional clothing from their nation, and each flag bearer was accompanied by someone carrying a Bible. Most of the Bibles were in the language of that country, and many of those carrying the Bibles were children, also dressed in traditional clothing.
Sunnyside was celebrating International Day, honoring the many nations that make up a very diverse congregation. Each of the 35 countries was chosen because someone who calls Sunnyside “home” had answered the call to carry a flag representing their family’s country of origin. Even sign language was included through the special music. Throughout the morning service, Rev. 7:9–10 was read five different times in five different languages.
Sunnyside is proud to have such a variety of ethnicities represented in its congregation. Each Sabbath the sermon is translated live into Romanian and Kiswahili. Sabbath School classes are also available in languages other than English. Any given week you will see various people coming to church wearing their native Sabbath best. The variety of clothing, shades of skin colors and languages combine each week in a beautiful taste of what heaven will be like someday. So why not celebrate it?
But the beautiful service in the morning was just the beginning. That evening after sundown, many people returned for the International Food Fair. There were tables set up to sell food with 18 different countries represented (many of which had several different families contributing items). Participants purchased tokens as they arrived and then used those tokens at the booths of their choice to purchase food items. People could be seen walking around the room, checking out each booth before deciding which items they wanted to enjoy for their evening meal. Many of the tables were also decorated with items showing off the culture and style of their country, and most of those behind the tables were still wearing their traditional outfits.
The comment most heard as the day wore on was that we definitely need to do this again. While we cherish our unity in Christ, we celebrate the unique cultures and backgrounds that make up this part of the body of Christ. One day, hopefully soon, we look forward to being a part of that “great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9–10).