Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Christian Diversity Sunday School Class Offered for Adults, Fall 2017

Beginning September 10, 2017, the pastor is going to be offering up an adult Sunday school class studying and looking to implement Christian diversity among us. We begin with seven weeks of engaging exercises covering 1. Answering God’s Call; 2. Prejudices, Perceptions, and Assumptions; 3. Comfort Zones and Going Beyond Them; 4. Leadership in a Time or Place of Transition; 5. Open Heart, Open Hand, Let Go; 6. Walk Like Jesus Walked; and 7. To Be a Good Neighbor. From there, we will plunge into a study of a terrific book, Welcoming Community: Diversity that Works. This is a start to a journey of understanding of all the diverse people God has gifted us with, within our church walls, out in our community, and throughout our American Baptist denomination.

This is a study I hope everyone will take advantage of and add their unique experience and perspective to in the months ahead as this impacts everyone, without exception. Rev. Doug Avilesbernal compares and contrasts society’s understanding of diversity with our understanding of Christian diversity. This is useful in clearing up confusion. As Rev. Avilesbernal observes, our culture understands diversity as being merely tolerant of others, and today that is exactly where most diversity training programs will leave you. This approach allows people of different backgrounds (ethnic, national, regional, however one chooses to divide humanity) to move toward one another without actively disliking each other, but only to the point of tolerating each other. While tolerance is a good thing, as far as it goes, it only allows us to stay out of each other’s way. That’s not what Christ had in mind for us, and certainly not how he approached other people.


Christian diversity, by contrast, is more complicated. Christian diversity welcomes different people because it is instead rooted in Jesus’ command that we love one another as ourselves. This is an approach that allows our church community to welcome and integrate differences into our community and enjoy the riches that such inclusion bring, riches that are blessings flowing from God and through others. It is a wonderful thing to strive for and a challenging thing to achieve. Churches that make the attempt and succeed are far stronger, far more joyful, and far greater blessed. 

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