Holy Spaces: Path to Multiracial United Methodist Churches in North Alabama

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Stryker, Richard
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United Methodist Church , inclusive worship , North Alabama , diversity , multiracial church , multiethnic church , multicultural church
North Alabama Conference United Methodist Churches are situated in or in some cases, part of thirty-three counties in Northern Alabama. The U.S. 2000 census shows the average racial diversity across these counties to reflect 76 percent white, 20.84 percent black, and the balance 3.26 percent are spread across Native Americans, Asians, Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders, persons of more than one race and others. These are the average figures but some counties and towns are more diverse than others are. Although many of the seven hundred and seventy-two churches find themselves in diverse communities, majority are uniracial of historically black or historically white churches. According to the definition of multiracial church used in this project, I have been able to identify Church of the Reconciler United Methodist and Central Park United Methodist as multiracial congregations in the conference. Other United Methodist Churches do have persons in their midst of other races but are considered uniracial for the purpose of this project. While one cannot expect all churches to be multiracial, the lopsided number of uniracial churches suggests that something is wrong with this picture. The project will present the biblical and theology basis for the multiracial church. The project will proceed by demonstrating the two obstacles that are hampering an increase in multiracial churches. These areas are the history of race relations and the challenge of cultural clashes. In the final chapter, I present principles for churches to use on their path to becoming multiracial United Methodist Churches in North Alabama. The principles are the result of research that shows that certain activities make a church more likely to succeed in multiracial ministry.