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Understanding and Celebrating Differences

By William M. Kondrath, part of the Vestry Papers issue on Healthy Practices (January 2011) ECF Vital Practices  The Episcopal Church Foundation  815 Second Avenue  New York, NY 10017

Scientists tell us that biodiversity is a key measure of the health of any ecosystem. Many of us suspect that diversity within our congregations would also be a sign of health, creativity, radical welcome, and the possibility of growth. If we think this is true, why are Sunday mornings one of the most segregated times of the week? It seems to me that the answer lies most often not in our intentions, which I think are generally well conceived, nor even in the demographics of our neighborhoods, which are often more varied than our churches. The reason most of our congregations fail to represent the rich and diverse tapestry of God’s people lies more in our lack of imagination, in the negative affective messages we caught early in life, and in the inability to live by guidelines that would assure, in the words of the great anthropologist Ruth Fulton Benedict, a “world made safe for differences.”

[...] Read more:  Vestry Papers website »