Study on diversity in churches reports lingering inequality

CORRECTING spelling of Paulette Dunker-Jenkins: St. Georges usher Laticia Stauffer (cq-left, 34 yrs, of Fishtown) and Mother Bethel AME usher Paulette Dunker-Jenkins (cq-right, 68 yrs, of NE Phila) take up collection during service at St. Georges Methodist Church Oct. 25, 2009, as the congregations of Mother Bethel AME and St. George's united for joint worship for the first time in 240 years. ( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer ) EDITORS NOTE: PAME26bTG 113061 Sun 10/25/2009 Location: 235 N. Fourth St.Story: PAME26 () / In the 1780s, black people worshiping at St. George's Methodist Church on N. 4th St. were kicked out in the middle of a service. They then formed Mother Bethel AME Church. This Sunday, for the first time in 240 years, the two congregations will unite and pray at 11 a.m., the time Martin Luther King once called "the most segregated hour in America." That's because people generally worship according to race, he said. We will be on hand to write about the historic service. Additional story info: two pastors: Rev. Mark Tyler of Bethel AME and Rev. Fred Day of St. George's. Lubrano, Alfred Reporter's Ext.4969///856-275-1233-cell
( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )

This is the finding of a recent study conducted by researchers at Baylor University, the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago. The study , “United by Faith? Race/Ethnicity, Congregational Diversity, and Explanations of Racial Inequality,” was published in the journal Sociology of Religion.  As you can imagine, it has gotten some people talking as the results are regretful.  It seems that the cultural diversity represented in the pews does not suggest that there is diversity in perspective or leadership.  Instead of opportunities for collaboration, the study finds that the attitudes of the cultural majority dominate.

While I respect the research and I cannot argue with the facts, I remain hopeful that our faith communities can change.  For me, this presents a review and evaluation of our efforts to live reconciled with one another.  And less we be disillusioned or confused by the appearance of togetherness, this study proves that there is more hard work to do.

Because it is not enough to sit together or to sing together if we cannot freely talk to each other.  We cannot raise our hands in worship together and not hold hands while walking together.  We must strive to be one people with one voice able to say together, “For God so loved the world…”

If eleven o’ clock remains the most segregated hour, then we are all talk and frankly, time’s up for that.

 

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