When James Lee met with a core group of people to start a new church, the group began by reading the book of Acts, recalling how the Holy Spirit visited that other small gathering of disciples 2,000 years ago. Wind and fire swept through their pleading until people were blown into the crowded streets, speaking in different languages. Bound­aries of race, ethnicity, gender, and age could not stop the stories of God.

In much the same way, the Spirit disrupted Lee’s plans. Lee had been commissioned to start an African-American congregation in Austin, Texas, but after reading in Acts about a church that included all people, the group decided to plant a multicultural congregation. Their church was named New Covenant Pres­by­terian Church because Cove­nant Presbyterian Church helped to start the congregation, but that moniker took on new meaning. “If we were going to be the new covenant church, then we needed to be for everyone,” Lee said.

New Covenant is a place where many people feel comfortable—interracial couples whose families don’t identify with one ethnicity, Euro-American women who adopt African children, and His­-pan­ics who aren’t Mexican. Through this process, Lee has emerged as an expert in multicultural con­gregations in the Presby­terian Church (U.S.A.).