Recent articles in the mainstream media have reported Britain’s recent proclamation that “multiculturalism has failed”. Political leaders in the UK go on to delineate their supporting arguments for this statement and several others across Europe nod their head in agreement.
The church’s commitment to multiculturalism has fared better, though we cannot yet claim victory. The church has one great advantage over economic, political and sociological frameworks. She can call upon our common source of unity – spirituality – and from there build upon diversity in the hopes of fulfilling the vision of a beloved community.
This begins with our ability to recognize and respect our different forms of worship, an obvious difference we can observe. Many of our fellowships within the Seattle Presbytery do not limit their services to an hour, but to however long the Spirit leads. Dancing is a form of sacred expression, and spontaneous testimonials are not uncommon. In turn, the quiet reserved worship of many our established Presbyterian churches reflect the reverence and engagement with the holy centered on the church’s historical identity.
If we were to solely look at these outward expressions of worship, we would indeed be “us” and “them”. Thank God, we are more complex than that. We are capable and we are meant to be “we”.
Professor Tariq Ramadan, Islamic scholar and recent keynote speaker at Seattle University Searching for Meaning book festival, said, “As created beings of a great God, we must acknowledge each other’s complexities. I am as multidimensional as you are. Do not limit yourself to know me by my periphery, but come to the center of who I am. Know my essence.”
We are challenged by our differences as well as our call to unity and inclusion, but this is indeed who we are called to be as the body of Christ. There is a healthy tension when we embark on the adventure of being the whole people of God and together fulfill God’s dream for humanity. We do it with the confident knowledge that at each of our core is the divine spark of our Creator.
Open wide the church doors, there are many who seek your spiritual partnership!
Open wide the church doors, there are many who await you in their community!