“God has not called the church to ‘diversity.’ God has called the church to oneness. I have no better solution than the gospel of Jesus Christ for this….”
Just this week I read the above words in an article by Dr. Korie Little Edwards, a professor of sociology who has been researching “multiracial congregations” for over twenty years. The article, titled “The Multiethnic Church Movement Hasn’t Lived up to Its Promise”, challenges churches to move beyond the appearance of unity into the practice of unity – engaging real issues and relationships, and inviting every person “to come to the table with their gifts and skills as leaders and contributors to advance the Good News of Christ.”
This aligns with what’s on my heart when I say that I believe the Lord wants to cultivate in us Intentional Diversity:
We are an Intergenerational, Intercultural, and Interpersonal church with a unique opportunity to cultivate interactions between these generations, cultures, and individuals. There are mutual gifts to share, stories to hear, and wisdom to receive that will further shape us as a Kingdom Community.
For a church that’s as small as we are, we have a wonderful depth and breadth of diversity. This gives us the unique opportunity to do the hard, beautiful work of living the very unity that our nation yearns—and needs—to see demonstrated in our society. Three to four generations of people supporting, nurturing, teaching, and learning from each other; a range of cultures listening to, challenging, leading, and forming each other; multitudinous personalities choosing to say yes to Paul’s exhortation:
Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus….” (Philippians 2:1-5)
I’m repeatedly drawn to Paul’s declaration that “Jesus himself is our peace, who has made us both one and broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14), and then he urges that the ensuing call is “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1-3). And he’s writing this to a people once divided by race and religion, age and social class, and multitudinous personalities!
And he’s writing this Immanuel. The Lord wants to cultivate such genuine love among us, not just for the sake of our own relationships (which are of great importance!), but for the sake of revealing to the world that re-union with God is essential, and is only possible in Christ.
In case you need the reminder, Intentional Diversity is the third of four priorities and practices for us this year. We’ll look at Adventurous Thinking next week. If you missed the previous weeks’ reflections you can read them by clicking on Reflective Listening and Creative Connecting.
I’m grateful to be among such a compellingly diverse community.
Your Pastor in Christ,
P.S. Let me remind you again an important way of caring for each other is following these guidelines for our in-person services:
· Wearing masks, and washing hands.
· Preregistering for each service.
· Maintaining distance from each other before and after services, and having extended conversations outside.
· Allowing ushers to guide you to your seats, and sitting in a row that has the same number of seats as people in your party. (Ask ushers to assist you if you need seats to be moved.)