Event brings cultures together

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christians of many nations will be brought together this weekend as a local church raises awareness of Christianity throughout the world.

The Fort Scott First Presbyterian Church will host Carols of Many Nations from 5:30-7 p.m., Saturday, which will feature traditional Christmas music from seven different cultures from around the world, First Presbyterian Church Pastor Mansour Khajehpour said.

Building upon the commonality of the Christmas season, Khajehpour said he hopes the event will raise awareness of the Christian culture in different parts of the world. He said he came up with the idea because Fort Scott does not have the same opportunities to experience different cultures as more urban areas such as Kansas City and to remind the community that Christmas is not just for the United States of America.

"Christmas is not only for English-speaking people. Christmas is for all people," Khajehpour said.

Khajehpour said he has already received confirmation from a group of Egyptian Christians from Kansas City, Kan., who plan to attend the event, as well as a group of Korean Presbyterians from Springfield, Mo. The event, according to Khajehpour, is primarily to promote diversity in Fort Scott. He added Fort Scott already has families from Mexico, El Salvador, India and Vietnam.

"We still have a couple dots of people who are from different parts of the world," Khajehpour said. "The intention at the beginning is to add something else to the community that we have in Fort Scott."

Included in the event program will be translations for each song performed, as well as information on each country represented. Khajehpour said the information will include things such as population, primary religion, whether Christianity is generally accepted in that country, and more. Additionally, the information will also contain issues being dealt with in each country for which prayers can be said.

"Several questions are being answered in this approach," Khajehpour said. "That is not only awareness, but also a point of action."

Traditional Christmas music from seven different cultures will be on display to the community at no charge.

"It's just Christmas caroling in a variety of languages ... to remind ourselves that Christianity is for all the people of the world ... There are other people in the world and they are Christians and they sing differently," Khajehpour said.

Having come from Iran, Khajehpour is familiar with having a different culture in the community. He said that the community was welcoming, and through the event, he hopes to continue to promote the welcoming atmosphere.

"When you spread the word that there are other cultures in the community, the more awareness you bring to the community, the more welcoming the community becomes," Khajehpour said. "When you have common ground, you don't need to start from the bottom. The foundation is there you just build upon it."

Khajehpour said the chose to have the event during the Christmas season because it's one of the few things that is common to different groups of Christians worldwide.

"There are a lot of excuses that you can bring national communities around the table, but usually you don't have many commonalties," Khajehpour said. "Christmas is a time of the year that is celebrated by all sorts of Christians, all different denominations of Christians, and beyond."

Khajehpour said the event is meant for the whole community, even those who are not Christian. He said a woman in the community who is Jewish approached him and asked if she could attend and he told her she was more than welcome.

"Christmas is such a time that a lot of differences and biases are left behind," Khajehpour said.

The musical selection for the event was originally intended to include English, Persian, Kenyan for the first year, then built upon in the future, Khajehpour said. However, through word of mouth, individuals contacted him requesting to participate, so now songs will also be performed in Spanish, Arabic, French and German.

"The rest of the languages were added by people contacting people themselves," Khajehpour said.

Following the musical performances inside the church, 308 S. Crawford St., the audience is invited to step outside for a candle lighting event, hot cider, hot chocolate and fellowship. Khajehpour said that if there is rain, snow, or excessive wind, the fellowship event will be moved to the basement of the church.

For more information on the event, contact the church at (620) 223-3180.