Title

From sameness to multicultural: lessons from the journey.

Date of Award

5-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

With little effort anyone can easily recognize the drastic demographic shift happening in the United States. Children of different colors now sketch a nation permeated by the richness of various languages and cultures. The United Methodist Church, however, has remained mostly oblivious of this reality, and while the population grows in diversity, church membership in the United States continues declining in sameness. Some churches have embarked in a different journey. This project focused on learning from the stories of three United Methodist churches in the United States that saw the growing diversity around them and made the necessary changes to be the Gospel story for their new neighbors. This research weaves together these stories from the perspective of the participants; stories that illustrate how these congregations overcame resistance and fear, and expanded their boundaries to include those with different languages, cultures and traditions. These churches moved from passively welcoming those from other cultures, to actively engaging with them and incorporating their cultures and their voices into the life of the church. These stories also illustrate the challenges these churches faced. The movement from inertia to change was not a smooth one. These congregations shifted from being a place of comfort to embarking in a faith journey characterized by willingness to learn and change, and enhanced by new cultures and experiences. This project combines the experiences of these churches into invaluable lessons for any church engaged in making disciples and building relationships with people of "all nations."