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Letter: Hicksville church welcomes diversity

Hicksville United Methodist Church in Hicksville. (Dec. 18,

Hicksville United Methodist Church in Hicksville. (Dec. 18, 2012) Credit: Ian J. Stark

I read with interest Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo's comments in "When church stops being a safe haven" [Opinion, Sept. 15]. I could not agree more with the bishop's opinion and the assessment of his Lutheran synod, prompted by the outcry over illegal immigration.

When I joined Hicksville United Methodist Church in 1988, it was predominantly a Caucasian church. Because of forward-thinking pastors and a welcoming congregation, we have become a diverse church, reflecting the demographics and needs of the community.

We have a black, female, Caribbean-American pastor, and our ministerial staff includes Indian and Japanese assistants. We share space with a growing Korean congregation and have services in the Indian languages of Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, along with English and Korean.

Several Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous groups meet in the church, and we have housed Sandy volunteers from around the nation in the last two years. We recently started a regional immigration ministry and will sponsor a "know your rights" workshop at St. Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Church later this month.

Our congregation has experienced the vitality that diversity has brought to our church, and we want to keep it relevant to our community.

Rae Schopp, Westbury

Editor's note: The writer is chairwoman of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee of the Hicksville United Methodist Church.