As the lead pastor and co-founder of Life360 Intercultural church, Reverend Saehee Duran has made it her mission to bring multicultural voices, experiences and views to 417-land. An immigrant from South Korea, Duran has 10 years of theological education,18 years of ministry experience at local, regional and national levels, and is currently completing her doctorate in ministry. “In 2015, my husband and I founded Life360 Intercultural church as part of his doctoral project,” Duran says. “Since then, we’ve hosted people from more than 72 nations.” Duran is now pastoring the only intercultural church in Springfield and is one of the area’s few female, ethnic minority lead pastors.
In 2019, Duran chaired Springfield’s very first city-wide outdoor international event called SGF CultureFest with various local business and organization partners and sponsors. The six-hour event hosted more than 3,000 visitors on Commercial Street. “I believe our city is well poised for the next great thing to continue this effort to celebrate, collaborate and cultivate ethnic diversity,” Duran says.
Duran has lived in Springfield for the past 12 years where she has also been an adjunct professor at Evangel University, the Springfield police chaplain, co-chair of the mayor’s initiative on equity and equality, a board member of Assemblies of God US missions, a national training coordinator at the Network of Women Ministers and the Vice President of Korean-English Fellowship.
Duran and her husband are currently working on a multiethnic center that will showcase the rich ethnic diversity in Springfield. The center will house international food courts, ethnic stores and organizations; provide music, art, dance and language taught by natives of the countries they represent and provide a first-class global-minded preschool for low-income families. “The vision is to normalize and celebrate ethnic diversity in our city as a positive way to challenge systemic racism and change the cultural narrative toward greater harmony, unity and mutual love,” Duran says. The working name for this facility is “SGF Multiethnic Legacy Center,” and the couple is eyeing a property at the heart of downtown Springfield where an infamous lynching took place in 1906.
Duran acknowledges the challenges she faces with this vision but is hopeful she can help make a difference. “It will be unwise and unrealistic to think that a multiethnic center will solve the historical issues of systemic racism overnight,” she says. “But it certainly is a right step toward much-needed change through normalizing and celebrating ethnic diversity in our city for the sake of generations today and tomorrow.”