The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that by 2042 racial minorities will constitute a demographic majority in America. This means that “every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.” Whether or not we agree with the idea of a “post-white” America, ethnic and cultural diversity will increasingly be experienced as an inescapable given in American society—nowhere more so than in cities. This continued growth in ethnic diversity, along with the accelerating realities of globalization and urbanization, holds both promise and challenge for the church.
The promise is that we have the opportunity, like never before, to embody a human community of rich diversity made whole under the cosmic rule of Christ. The church has the potential to become that restored, cross-cultural community where we share life together as Christ’s Body knit together in love and serving one another with our different gifts.
The challenge is that as different groups are brought together into the “global village,” those on the margins of power may see these globalizing trends as a threat to their cultural identities and way of life. A diverse society will always be forced to ask itself “On whose terms are we achieving diversity?” The challenge is finding true wholeness in the face of real cultural difference.
The Grace and Race ministry at Redeemer is a modest attempt to help us as a church in a global city begin to understand these issues in light of the gospel. On Saturday, March 12, we will host an afternoon symposium on “The Church and the Experience of Multi-Ethnic America.” We will explore how the church played an important role in empowering African-, Asian- and Latino- Americans by providing a place for social integration, restored dignity and protest in the face of injustice. We will consider how the church might continue to serve in these ways for our current historical moment.
Dr. Anthony Bradley (King’s College), Dr. Alvin Padilla (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and Dr. Jeffrey Jue (Westminster Theological Seminary) will lead us in exploring these themes followed by a Q & A.