Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kainos Movement 2015 Conference | Main Session 6: The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis: Disentangling Race, Ethnicity, and Culture with Dr. Korie Edwards

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-Ethnic Network of Missional Communities Kainos Movement

 

Kainos Movement 2015 Conference Main Session 6: The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis: Disentangling Race, Ethnicity, and Culture with Dr. Korie Edwards


Previous Kainos Movement 2015 Conference posts:




The following posts will feature my notes from the strong collection of Kainos 2015 pastors, nonprofit leaders, and sociologists who prophetically spoke into our segregated American cultureOur prayer, hope, and striving is that Emmaus City will be a transcultural and multi-ethnic church in Worcester, of Worcester, and for Worcester. As we move forward, we have much to gain from these men and women who have gone before us and lead the way in Jesus' name.

Kainos 2015 Main Session 6: The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis: Disentangling Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

 

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-Ethnic Network of Missional Communities Kainos Movement

Dr. Korie L. Edwards


Associate Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University
Conducting study: The Religious Leadership and Diversity Project (RLDP)
Author of The Elusive Dream, Against All Odds

Religion is often a way to keep and build – produce and reproduce – ways of thinking and feeling. So churches are often dealing with who people think they are and how they define themselves across the areas of ethnicity, race, and culture. A key thing to remember is that these are three different categories. In order to have healthy, biblical, and diverse churches that are multi-ethnic and multicultural, understanding, patience, and perseverance are necessary to unlearn who we think we are, and how often we define others in a too limiting (i.e. racial) ways that have been created by those of us in monocultural churches.

Ethnicity is related to a group identity and what gives meaning to the culture that group is a part of.

Race is related to what meaning we determine for others based on physical characteristics and how we give people worth based on our assumptions of their appearances. 

Far too often, people look at others through a racial lens (i.e. white, black, Asian, etc.), rather than an ethnic lens (i.e. Euro-American, British, African American, African, South American, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) that recognizes there are many different cultures within ethnic groups. Within ethnicities, there are multiple cultures (often created by class, education, wealth, geography) and people from different ethnicities often come together to participate in similar cultures (i.e. sports, art, urban, rural). However, race cancels out relationship when perceptions of who belongs and who is worthy of the benefit of the doubt are based on assumptions of outward appearances. Race causes us to categorize people with only 3-5 attributes predominantly physical (i.e. skin color, apparel, communication style) and segregate from them.

When discomfort comes with crossing cultures in a church, it is painful because it often exposes how monocultural we didn't realize we are. It can be awful, but with the gospel, patience, and care, it subsides and multiple cultures begin to help shape the liturgy – work of the people – together. However, the challenges with ethnic diversity are even more diverse because race is often a factor. Too often churches respond like arthritis in the body. Where multi-ethnicity has been God's plan for His family from the beginning, churches go into auto-immune system mode trying to correct something that didn't need correcting, but instead needed understanding and appreciation when minority ethnicities "threaten" to reshape preference, practice, and style. When overreaction leads to overcorrection like arthritis impacts the body as an overzealous auto-immune system the majority ethnicity freezes how the minority was supposed to bring health and vitality, and churches can get even more set in their monocultural ways because comfort is valued more than transformation and thanksgiving for the family God is reconciling. Race is often the highest contributor to this painful, and often sinful, freeze.

Jesus' Church is the Spirit-filled, united, and beloved community of God where we experience grace, freedom, service, equality, love, and mutual submission. A wrong view of race causes churches to be weak because race cancels out receiving Jesus from far too many people who we should be sharing the fruit of the Spirit with and learning from God together.

  
– Sully


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