The Golden Triangle Fellowship (Romans 12, Issue 260)
The Golden Triangle Fellowship
The Golden Triangle spans mountainous border areas of Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. People of this region suffer relentless violence, human rights atrocities, poverty, drug trafficking, and little access to education for their children. For more than a decade, the situation has deteriorated to the point that families decide in desperation to flee for their own safety and the well-being of their children. Many refugees travel first to Thailand and then make their way to other safe havens. One of the places that has become home is Nashville, Tennessee. The Golden Triangle Fellowship is a community of faith within Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville.
The Golden Triangle Fellowship at Belmont United Methodist Church continues to grow and numbers close to 300 people. Each Sunday, the service is translated into multiple languages to fully include people from varying language groups. The Rev. Sandy Sakarepanee, The Rev. Adam Kelchner, Carver Hla, Kwa Ngah, and Caleb Bullock along with other lay leaders serve this amazing congregation. The Rev. Sakarepanee lifts up the remarkable resilience and deep gratitude that characterizes the lives of the members who often call upon her to join them in their homes to celebrate specific blessings in their lives and to give thanks to God.
The Golden Triangle Fellowship engages the whole family. Opportunities to grow in faith abound, including Sunday school classes for every age level, a youth choir that contributes to the worship experience for the whole congregation on Sunday, women's and men’s groups, and educational enrichment groups. Members of the fellowship open their own homes to host various gatherings, Bible studies, and groups. Many are deeply invested in their faith and in supporting one another.
The collaboration and sense of community reaches beyond the fellowship itself to relationships and involvement of others to work for the common good of neighbors in the wider community. Belmont University students, for example, join forces with Belmont UMC to provide soccer training and leagues for children and youth living in apartment complexes and housing areas with children from these countries and others who would not have access to these opportunities otherwise. Local businesses and service organizations donate money and time to the initiative too. In a similar fashion, resettlement agencies and educational services collaborate with the church to provide supplemental education to help the families learn English and to accelerate their learning.
The Golden Triangle Fellowship and Belmont United Methodist have created the space and grace to be a community of faith with one another. It is an amazing story of welcoming the stranger and in doing so being blessed by the presence of Christ in one another. An informative and inspiring short video about the Golden Triangle Fellowship can be view below:
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Does your community have refugees and new populations of people moving in? What steps will you take to welcome them and establish relationships with these new neighbors?
- How can you value and honor the indigenous leaders, so they can continue to grow as spiritual leaders? How can you learn from them as you create discipling opportunities and reach out to serve Christ and neighbor together?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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