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The Foursquare Church has crossed ethnic, socioeconomic, gender and age barriers since its founding by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1923, and its leaders make intentional efforts to ensure it stays that way today. This will be noticeable at Foursquare Connection 2013 from May 28–30 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

“From the foundations of our movement, Foursquare has always been diverse,” says Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. “Sister Aimee was known very much for being someone who reached out to people of different ethnicities and cultures; it’s part of our DNA and a cross-cultural experience that we are celebrating and sponsoring.”

From the first note of Connection 2013, diversity will be front and center. Conexión Hispana, a session hosted by the Hispanic Council and the National Church Office, kicks off as the first event of the convention on Tuesday—with no other events running simultaneously. The event will feature Spanish-to-English translation.

This move is intentional, to bring together Spanish-speaking or Spanish-first-language pastors and leaders from across Foursquare. It is expected that a number of Foursquare executives and district leaders will attend, which they weren’t able to do in the past due to other events running at the same time.

Daniel Prieto, national Hispanic missional coach, says the decision to incorporate Conexión Hispana within Connection 2013 rather than on a separate date was made to promote participation, connection and celebration.

“We seek to make Hispanic pastors and leaders part of the whole Foursquare family,” Daniel says regarding the participation aspect. About the goal of connection, he affirms: “We embrace the Hispanic community of pastors and leaders, and encourage them to have a time to share in their own language and culture while connecting with all of the Foursquare family.”

About the celebration goal, Daniel says, “We want the Hispanic pastors to visualize that they are part of a church composed of persons of all languages and cultures, celebrating the diversity of the church.”

As always, all main sessions during Connection 2013 will be translated into Spanish, in consideration of the growing Hispanic population within Foursquare. This includes translators on the floor of the business session so that everyone is able to participate. Foursquare officials want to make sure that Spanish-speaking individuals are able to attend and receive from the entire ministry that occurs during the convention.

Other highlights worth noting include a variety of female speakers, a multi-generational finale service, and sessions for leaders of all types—not just senior pastors.

Convention organizers say this is part of a course-correction. Over time, the annual gathering was perceived by some to be a senior pastor event; Foursquare leaders desire to break this mold and make it clear that Connection is for worship leaders, small-group leaders, associate pastors and all those who would consider themselves a leader within The Foursquare Church, whether they are serving at a small church or a large one. Connection is for all of them, because the focus is on engaging all leaders to be healthier and stronger.

Another aspect of Connection 2013’s diversity will be the visibility of female leaders. The role of women in ministry has always been valued in Foursquare, and this year is no exception. Female leaders will play a key role in various sessions, including speaking onstage and making presentations.

“We never want to let a majority, whether it be age, race or gender, start to overshadow the diversity of what’s presented,” says Connection Manager Tammy Sevcov. “We’re making sure that we’re intentionally identifying, validating and highlighting the diversity within our midst. We have different voices from around our movement, and we want to ensure that we’re not just presenting one flavor or style in anything we do; we’re really trying to make sure we’re reflecting the whole body of Christ.”

The theme of Connection 2013 is “Engage: Learn. Live. Lead.” For more information, visit the official Connection website.

a freelance writer and editor in Nashville, Tenn.