VOL 2, NO 4
Ethno-Racial Diversity Within Religious Congregations in Indianapolis
by Elfriede Wedam
More than forty years after the civil rights
movement began to mobilize against racial segregation, religious congregations
continue to reflect the segregation Americans experience in their voluntary
associations in general. Public policy has challenged segregation and promoted
diversity, mostly at the federal level, in employment, education, and housing.
But diversity in public and publicly-regulated institutions does not translate
easily into diversity within voluntary associations.
Using data from the Religion and Urban Culture
Project, we have identified how some congregations engage in what social analysts
call "boundary-spanning" activities that bring "outsiders"
into their previously homogeneous organizations. Our investigation suggests
that diversity in congregations is created by the combined effect of the congregationís
neighborhood contextóits racial, ethnic, and class makeupóand the kinds of
choices congregations make in response to the challenge of diversity.
Congregations orient themselves in various ways
toward achieving a multi-racial and multi-cultural membership, but common
to them all is a conscious decision to be diverse. The stories of these congregations
point to new ways of thinking about pluralism in voluntary associations generally.
PATTERNS OF DIVERSITY
Of the approximately 300 congregations in metropolitan
Indianapolis studied by the Religion and Urban Culture Project, 39 congregations,
or about 13 percent, were racially and ethnically diverse.1 A second
group of 139 congregations, or 48 percent, included a modest amount of diversity
(between 1 and 9 percent of members were a different race from that of the
majority.) A third group of 112 congregations, or 39 percent of the total,
reported that all the members of their congregations were of a single race.
Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Indianapolis Congregations
We found that congregations with a substantial
interracial or interethnic membership, while relatively few, included large
and small congregations, had a wide range of budgets, and were distributed
throughout the city. This wide array reflects the complexity of the issue.
There are three major orientations that help
explain how racial and ethnic diversity in a congregation occurs. In the first
category, accepting diversity, the congregation becomes diverse by
adapting to a change in the surrounding social context. Some of these congregations
are in areas undergoing a racial and sometimes socio-economic change. When
a rural area becomes a suburb, when an existing suburb expands its housing
stock, or when older neighborhoods become gentrified, new and different people
often join local congregations. Congregations falling into this category acknowledge
that their diversity results from outside circumstances. While these congregations
did not initiate change, they were receptive to the changes occurring around
A second category, asserting diversity,
is similar to the first in that these congregations also exist in a diverse
social context. For the members, diversity entails a considerable element
of tension, with some members eagerly promoting diversity and others resisting
it. Yet, as a congregation, they make a vigorous effort to bring the diversity
existing around them into their membership. This more aggressive response
to a congregationís environment reflects a somewhat different trajectory of
congregational and neighborhood change. These congregations reflect a sense
of urgency. Sometimes they express a moral commitment ó itís what they feel
they have to do, or are called to do, despite obstacles. Sometimes denominations
require that congregations develop programs for a multi-cultural ministry,
although the methods can vary widely. In either case, congregations are pursuing
their decision despite internal conflict in its making.
A third group has a building diversity
orientation. These members have a keen awareness that their church has been
historically homogeneous, existing within a homogeneous environment; now they
reach out to those different from themselves. These congregations frequently
must look beyond their immediate surroundings to attract the diversity they
want. This orientation reflects a fairly recent acknowledgment by members
that they "lack" diversity, but also a sense that building diversity
is not something foisted on them from outside; rather, it is a goal they have
set for themselves.
Christians United at Soldiers Memorial Chapel
is located near the former Fort Benjamin Harrison, shuttered in 1997, on the
northeast side of Indianapolis. For many years, the presence of the military
and its organizational support system brought people from across the United
States to central Indiana. The neighborhood around the fort reflected the
diversity of the military, whose members attend some of the local churches.
When the fort closed, a group of ex-military personnel living in the area,
together with some local residents, established a new congregation of about
40 members on the site where a disbanded congregation previously existed.
This small congregation is substantially interracial, including a Hawaiian
and several Asian families. Currently, the membership is solidly middle-class
but they plan to canvas in the poorer sections of the Lawrence-Geist area
for new members because the wealthier sections "have tons of churches,"
or such is the congregationís perception. Their expectations are that they
will remain interracial, but the challenge will be to reach out effectively
to poorer people.
Another congregation near the base, Lawrence
Baptist Church, does not have any members from the former fort. Historically,
the congregation had been white, but now it includes Blacks, Hispanics, and
Asians2 since the area around it experienced white flight during
the 1970s. Its membership declined from 700 to about 150, and currently 20
percent is non-white. The church evangelizes in the area but relates to the
neighborhood more as a mission field than as an extension of the churchís
sense of community or a principled commitment to inclusiveness. The long-time
pastor of Lawrence Baptist has watched his church dwindle in membership numbers
and in the socio-economic status of many of his members, but has decided to
remain in this community despite the many opportunities to leave because he
feels "it would be hypocritical to leave a mission area."
Catholic parishes represent a different pattern
for accepting diversity congregations. While Catholic parishes are proportionally
the most diverse compared to other denominations, their diversity results
in part from parish boundaries that often cross neighborhood boundaries. Some
large suburban parishes encompass several municipalities within one parish.
Increasingly though, Catholics choose which parish to belong to, so choice
has also become a factor in the diversity of Catholic congregations.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel,
Indiana is the largest parish in the Lafayette diocese; its growth is tied
to the major population explosion in Hamilton County, north of Indianapolis.
Its especially large size, comprising 2,800 families or about 9,500 individual
members, has strained available services, such as its school, but also expanded
its parish reach. Carmel, once a farming community and now a booming suburb,
attracts professional and technical workers, many of whom have relocated from
other parts of the country for job reasons, and are likely to move on in a
few years. As the percentage of minorities in the professions has increased,
so has the minority population in Carmel and its churches. Our Lady of Mount
Carmelís parish roll is about 5 percent non-white, that is, close to 500 individual
Hispanic and Asian members. So many Spanish-speaking families have moved into
the parish that the church recently instituted a Spanish mass and plans to
institute a religious education program in Spanish. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
has responded to an expanding service economy that has brought increasing
numbers of minority group members into the surrounding area and therefore
into the parish.
Door of Hope Church of the Nazarene, in the Haughville
neighborhood on the Near West side, is an inner-city mission of the Nazarene
denomination. Door of Hope is keenly aware of the needs of its neighborhood.
The congregation is led by a dynamic and outspoken black pastor with a Yankee
accent, reflecting his Massachusetts origins. This pastorís vision for creating
an effective ministry to low-income black and white people is holistic and
based in the neighborhood rather than looking outside, for example, to an
urban-suburban church partnership. Despite the denominational label of "mission
work" with its implication that this area consists of people who are
"different," the pastorís approach is to develop support from local
non-poor familiesóboth financial and social.
While the churchís membership (77) is small,
it is one of the most nearly racially balanced between black and white that
we found. The current membership is part of a recent growth that occurred
with the coming of the pastor two years ago, when membership was only 10.
Almost all the members live in Haughville, which is predominately black but
with some white pockets, with a handful coming from the nearby Hawthorne neighborhood,
which is predominately white.
Door of Hope tries to put the church at the center
of membersí lives by responding to both physical and spiritual needs. The
church serves three meals each week together with their regular religious
services. At the time of our observations, the pastor was assembling a planning
committee to develop, among other things, a recreational program that would
include mentoring relationships between older youth and children.
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, located on
the Near East side in a working class to poor area, is substantially interracial.
The neighborhood experienced white flight in the 1970s, but is still racially
mixed, with an increasing Hispanic population. Twenty-five percent of St.
Philip Neriís 1,400 members are AfricanAmerican and 10 percent are Hispanic.
Despite a declining budget, the parish has renovated and modernized its elementary
school and maintained a strong outreach agenda for the local neighborhood.
Much of the initiative for these activities falls
to a small core of clergy and lay leaders. Many older parishioners feel threatened
by the changing population in the church and have resisted some of the efforts
to reach out to the immigrant Mexicans. The pastor related how the "survival"
mode of these congregants makes developing stronger internal leadership and
new forms of outreach difficult. Nonetheless, the church has developed an
increasing presence in the neighborhood among non-members and its school promises
to become a magnet that attracts young, financially able families.
Door of Hope and St. Philip Neri demonstrate
the important role of pastoral leadership in creating an environment in which
diversity issues are directly addressed. While leadership is an important
factor in all orientations toward diversity, the source of the leadershipópastoral,
denominational, or congregational, varies from case to case.
Mars Hill, on the South side, is a poor and working
class neighborhood that is almost entirely white. But within Mars Hill there
is a 100-member, predominately middle-class and interracial Seventh Day Adventist
congregation. SDA-Chapel West, a church with a hierarchical polity, focuses
on building relationships with their denomination and other Adventist groups
more than with the members of the surrounding area. Several years ago, a black
Caribbean lay leader was invited by the congregation to "help out"
and he decided to stay after the members "assured him that they wanted
to grow spiritually." This congregation has several non-white members,
both African-American and Asian, and emphasizes developing a multi-racial
group of youth leaders. When the "student literature evangelists"
from the denominationís interstate training program visited the congregation,
they reported on their mission experiences selling SDA literature door-to-door.
The group included one African-American youth from the Chapel West congregation.
Of the nine student evangelists who visited the church during our observation
period, only two were white. One student, who was Korean, spoke English with
an accent that was nearly impossible to understand. Yet the congregation displayed
an intense rapport with the youth and with the student evangelists as a group.
The denominationís evangelical focus crossed all racial boundaries.
Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in the
United Northwest Area, an historically African-American neighborhood which
has become impoverished since the 1960s, has been a black congregation in
a predominately white denomination. Most of the parishioners are retired professional
workers. The church has begun to attract white parishioners in recent years
(now at 10 percent of the membership of 165), related in some part to the
assignment of a white pastor.
The new pastorís vision is focused directly on
the surrounding neighborhood, particularly at its youth for whom there are
few organized recreational outlets. The church initiated a summer youth basketball
program as a way to launch their plans for a parish school for boys, thus
addressing a pressing need in the neighborhood. The pastor is not daunted
by the difficulty of raising capital for such an ambitious project despite
the limited resources of the parishioners. The pastorís legal training received
before attending seminary contributes to the variety of resources available
to this inner city church as it seeks to effect change in the area around
Butler-Tarkington is a racially and economically
mixed neighborhood surrounding Butler University on Indianapolisís North side.
University Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is another example
of a congregation consciously building diversity. It also reflects to what
extent commitment alone is inadequate to achieve a goal. About 14 percent
of its membership of 130 is black; several are the adopted black African and
biracial children of white members. University Park shares a building with
an all-black Disciples of Christ church, and wonders out loud, indeed agonizes,
about what has prevented the two congregations from merging. The pastor speaks
about the congregationís need to "simply build a better relationship
with the African-American community."
While the church participates in several neighborhood
activities with other local churches, only a handful of members live in the
area. The church does not sponsor direct neighborhood service work, although
several service-oriented groups meet in its building. This congregation is
a highly educated, professional group whose social connections and interests
are more cosmopolitan than local. Recently, the church began reflecting on
its orientation to the surrounding area by reconsidering its mission statement
and studying the internal congregational dynamics. Members have begun to consider
in what ways socio-economic differences between themselves and others in the
neighborhood have contributed to stubborn racial barriers.
Diversity in congregations offers glimpses into
the ways religious adherents are exposed to multi-racial experiences, whether
they actively seek them or passively accept them, whether the population in
their local area is diverse or not. In the free market of American religion,
people can choose to join a congregation. Members select congregations for
many reasons, often "because this is a place where I feel comfortable
worshipping." Comfort is attached to similarities in race, ethnicity,
language, or class position. Consequently, membership forms around emotional
satisfaction rather than for the purpose of addressing questions of racism
or social inequality. But if religious congregations manifest a belief or
ideology that diversity within the congregation is something they support
and make a decision to institute or preserve, their actions have wider social
By and large, religious congregations have participated
in the segregation that typifies mainstream American society, but the cases
presented here run counter to that trend. When it comes to dealing with issues
of race, the larger social forces of the economy or of government are not
the only, and sometimes not the most influential, things that determine what
we do. The cultural featuresócommitments to particular ideas, for exampleóare
also influential in the shaping of contemporary social life, and suggest areas
that should be explored for clues to overcoming systemic social divisions.
On July 28, Research Notes hosted a
roundtable discussion held at the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. Participants
had been provided beforehand with the text of this issue of RN, and were invited
to respond to the issues raised in the paper. Paula Parker-Sawyers is director
of the Office of Neighborhood Resources at IUPUI. Angelique Walker-Smith is
executive director of the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis. Robert
Aponte is associate professor of sociology at IUPUI. Sam Jones is president
of the Indianapolis Urban League. Elfriede Wedam, a sociologist at The Polis
Center, wrote the paper under discussion. Kevin Armstrong is senior public
teacher at The Polis Center. The following is an edited version of their discussion,
which was moderated by Armstrong.
ARMSTRONG: Even as American business embraces the notion of diversity
in the workplace, congregations react with ambivalence to talk of diversity
in the pews. Religious communities honor diversity, yet movement toward the
goal is often driven by forces from outside, rather than by core values from
within. Some argue that the diversity agenda fragments communities further.
And yet, those congregations that are ethnically and racially diverse offer
an opportunity for making friends, for learning more about anotherís culture,
and for establishing networks. From your experience, to what extent is racial
and ethnic diversity a priority for local congregations, and how does that
compare with other voluntary organizations?
PARKER-SAWYERS: The religious community of Indianapolis is
really a mirror reflection of the rest of the non-profit sector. Thereís a
black church and thereís a white church. There are black organizations, there
are white organizations. Light of the World Christian Church and Second
Presbyterian come together on an intentional basis but their congregations are
separate. The 500 Festival and Indiana Black Expo each have phenomenal
festivals, but share practically nothing other than the city streets.
JONES: There are desegregated parts of the
larger society, but in my view it is not integration. The workforce has not
integrated; it has desegregated. In my denomination, the United Methodist
Church, weíre supposed to have Ďopen itinerancy,í which means that a pastor
should be able to go wherever there is a vacancy. But thatís not quite
so. A few black pastors have been sent out to little towns in Indiana, but you
wouldnít have much success in appointing a black pastor to the major white
United Methodist churches in Indianapolis. When it comes to Ďone
church,í we donít have it. Some of it is based on the history of relationships
between blacks and whites in this country. Some of it is socioeconomic. And
some of it is about church politics and controlóbecause the black church does
control a few institutions. So itís a complex situation for which I believe
there is no immediate solution.
ARMSTRONG: Angelique, I would like to hear your
perspective from the Church Federation. Is diversity a priority in local
WALKER-SMITH: I think itís clear what the church ought
to be about. There is a written mandate from an ecclesiastical, theological
perspective. From a sociological perspective, speaking of what churches
actually do, diversity is not a priority. The church wrestles with the
theological mandate and with the social reality and thatís where we run into
problems. The hostilities are there, socially, historically, and I think both
theologians and sociologists underestimate how brutal that history is.
JONES: Not necessarily hostility but fear of the
unknown, because people donít know each other, donít interact...
WALKER-SMITH: I really want to say hostility because
the brutality of the race question has resulted in loss of life. You cannot
erase that, and it has everything to do with the creation of the black church.
If it were just fear, I donít think the problem would be as complex. I am not
convinced that the integrated model is the only model; that we actually have
critiqued and studied it thoroughly. Do we truly believe in some kind of
ecumenical understanding of what the church is, that there is some kind of
universal church? Do we take that seriously?
ARMSTRONG: Let me turn to the sociologists at the
table for a response. Hiding under the table is not an option, Robert.
APONTE: Well, the thought came to mind that when
we die weíll find that there are actually two Gods, one black and one white. I
think itís really a sad commentary when the one institution having to do with
worship is deemed as racist, as I am hearing. What Iím reading in this paper is
far more hopeful than what Iím hearing at this table. One interesting question
to me is, to what extent does the segregation in churches exceed that which
exists residentially. If it exceeds that, then some of the descriptions Iím hearing
here make a lot more sense. Letís face it, a substantial portion of the
population doesnít attend church, so those that do are in some sense a select
JONES: Where I grew up in Heidelberg,
Mississippi, going to church was a day of freedom from Ďthe maní who always had
his foot on our neck. We found relief in singing and praying and fiery sermons
and Sunday school where we came together as a community and at the end of the
day we went home feeling good. We were ready to face the monster come Monday
morning when we had to go to Miss Annís kitchen or went to Charlieís sawmill or
to a railroad or to teach school in a segregated system. The thing you have to
realize is that we were all lumped together. Didnít matter where we were on the
socioeconomic scale, doctors, lawyers, the teachers that taught me went to the
same church. So the black church, letís put it this way, the segregated church,
provided a lot of outlets, and opportunity for interaction.
PARKER-SAWYERS: My generation was Martin Luther King and
JFK and RFK; this was in my formative years as an adolescent. For myself and a
number of my friends it was a very intentional choice to attend a predominantly
white church. Not for the relief that Sam just spoke of but for the opposite
reason, because I lived in an all-black neighborhood. Our attitude was, ĎBy
God, weíre going to make a difference, weíre going to attend this church.í Iím
still a member of that church, but I have to be very honest, I am tired. Iím
tired of the fact that after all these many years, there are still only 18
minority members in a church of over 400. So Iím in the church-seeking position
right now, because I need that comfort. I want to go some place where Iím
wanted and where Iím comfortable and I donít have that in this all-white church
where I intentionally went and made every effort to help them understand me.
WALKER-SMITH: I was a product of busing. But if youíve
been raised in the black community, you have loyalties there as part of who you
are. And if you go to environments where you are not embraced, where in fact
you are eschewed, you say, ĎWhatís the problem here? Am I stupid or what? Why
donít I wise up and go back to where Iím wanted?í There is an increasing level
of discontent, and I think this Ďeducated younger generationí is saying we need
to recommit to our own.
ARMSTRONG: What role then, if any, does the church
play in encouraging racial reconciliation?
PARKER-SAWYERS: I think it plays a significant role but
for me the history of Indianapolis plays an even larger role. Until our
congregations and our city as a whole recognize that we have a tarnished
history, accept it and deal with it, weíre not going to get over any of the
issues in this article or any of the things that we fight about. The fact is
that the KKK ran the city. They didnít run it quietly, they were elected to the
school board, they were elected to the city council, they were in the
newspapers. They ran the city. Until we deal with that history itís just nice
JONES: The attitude toward reconciliation is
that itís a two-way street and perhaps that is valid. But the reality of
reconciliation is that the disproportionate reaching out has to come from the
mainline churches, the white churches. People have to understand that black
folk are not going to immediately accept a reaching out and we are not going to
do much reaching out.
WEDAM: My main point was to say that as a method
of overcoming social divisions in our society, or as enactors of a method, so
to speak, churches have a role to play. What I tried to do was look at
whatís happening on the ground. I looked at 300 congregations in Indianapolis
to see where, in fact, diversity exists within congregations. And when I found
40 or so cases, I asked, how does it happen? Thatís the question for meónot
should it happen or is it a good thing or is it the only thing thatís
important. But we recognize that as a society we have to have opportunities for
expressing ourselves in a diverse setting. These congregations have developed
different ways of approaching diversity. Some passively, some more actively,
some just as a matter of ĎWell, the neighborhood became diverse so weíre going
to adjust our programs and be inclusive.í But they do make a commitment. That
is the most important element, because all three types of congregations accept
in a very conscious way a commitment to diversity, and they support it and
JONES: By diversity, do you mean black/white,
WEDAM: I mean black, white, Hispanic, or Asian.
Itís predominantly black and white because that is the way the city is.
WALKER-SMITH: Well, I question the very assumption that
integration models are the only models that speak to diversity relative to the
mandate of the church or to the mandate of social inclusion. I think itís commendable
that we have some examples of people who are willing to struggle with the
issues that make them diverse within a congregational setting. I think thatís
Biblical. I think thatís theologically coherent. But on the other hand, I donít
think we can dismiss the history, the very real reasons why people do not come
to that table.
PARKER-SAWYERS: I donít want my response to reflect that
this is a one-way street. Several African-American churches that I have visited
have from the pulpit characterized those Ďotherí churches as boring,
uninviting, not the place you, the congregation gathered, would ever want to
go. They create this sense of, youíre not going to be welcomed over there. But
thereís also the fear that if I do go over there, am I going to be welcomed?
There are few Ďwhiteí churches in this community where you can walk in as an
African-American and not be noticed. It has to do with the attitude of the
congregation. And for me that is the measure of whether or not the congregation
is diverse. If itís right, it doesnít matter what color you are; when you walk
in, you know that you feel welcome.
JONES: And on the other hand, there are
African-American churches to which non-African-Americans can go where theyíll
make you feel welcome. I can count those on one hand, so itís a complicated
matter. The point is we have to keep working, like the Presidentís initiative
on race. We donít talk to each other enough. We donít interact enough.
PARKER-SAWYERS: We donít have to agree. But we can at
least put all of our issues out on the table and listen to each other and try
to understand the other personís point of view. But we donít do that.
WEDAM: But isnít the church the place where that
dialogue can take place?
JONES: It should be.
WEDAM: And why would diverse churches, those
forty or so in this sample, not be places that could potentially take us to the
next millennium? I see a little contradiction in some of the things you are
WALKER-SMITH: I think each has its own particularity.
Thatís part of the challenge of doing case studies. I donít know that those
particularities translate to a universal model or direction for the goal of
racial reconciliation. Now, what might be interesting is to take the case
studies and say, ĎIs there a point of entry here for reflection? Does it apply
to a larger venue for racial reconciliation?
WEDAM: That is exactly my question.
WALKER-SMITH: Well, that question is very difficult to answer. I think
the church is called to find new models. We have got to start right
where people are in the pain of their history and say, ĎWhat do you think
will create another model for racial reconciliation?í I simply am not convinced
the integrationist congregational model has a lot of merit for us in the future.
These examples of people who have the courage, the patience, the perseverance
are to be honored for what they seek to do and I think the Lord blesses them
for that, but the majority are not going to do that.
JONES: The problem we have additionally is that
of leadership. Iím not sure that the average pastor could lead the congregation
in that direction. Iím not sure the seminaries are preparing incoming pastors
to deal with the whole question of diversity.
ARMSTRONG: We need to put a point on this here. The
question Elfriede is asking is about the integrationist model. It is not the
only model but there are some number of congregations who have chosen to
explore it. For those congregations that practice this integrationist model,
what do you see are the compelling forces? The leadership of the clergy?
Patience? What else?
APONTE: I donít want to be associated with the
comment that Ďclearly there are other models to the integration modelí because
I donít accept that. As far as Iím concerned there are two models. One is
integration and the other is segregation. I would like to know what kind of a
model there can possibly be that isnít one of those two? And between those two,
I would choose the integration model. I donít think anyone at this table is
going to speak up for the segregation modelóother than the comments that were
made to qualify that Ďwe were forced into thisí and Ďhistorically it was really
important,í etc. etc. But this talk about looking for other models is getting a
little abstract. Sam stated very forcefully, very clearly that a reaching out
has to be serious, has to be sustained, and those making the effort have to
expect that itís going to be received reluctantly, at least early on. What do
we do to create a sustained outreach? I thought thatís what this paper was about.
It did not have all the answers by any means. All it did was look at why these
different churches are trying different strategies. And I think thatís a really
good first step to see, well, whoís doing it, whoís sincere, what are the
WALKER-SMITH: In Hartford, Connecticut thereís a Latino congregation,
and then thereís another one that is English speaking, composed primarily
of folks from the West Indies. But theyíre calling themselves a church, a
congregation, as opposed to saying, ĎWe have to all meet together and do it
this way and have common agreement on everything.í But they affirm the identity
of each other and on occasion may come together for common liturgy. I think
it goes back to both the sociological and theological definition of congregation.
Thatís what I mean by there are other things to look at besides the integrationist
WEDAM: Those kinds of groups are more typical
among Catholics, especially if they have a liturgy in Spanish or in Vietnamese
or Polish. The small group phenomenon within a congregation has lots of
variations, and I think it is a very helpful way of organizing church life. But
what are the downsides of that? Sub-groups form very readily in congregations
along a lot of lines, not just of race or language. And then the work is to not
develop cliques or power struggles among those groups, but rather to find ways
where they can learn to understand one another without having to agree.
WALKER-SMITH: What language is spoken and where that
language is spoken is not the substance of what Iím trying to advance as a more
pluralist model. What I want to say is thereís a real wrestling with the
identity, with the history, the culture, the particularity of those subgroups
that might be a part of a pluralist model. So it goes beyond just offering a
Spanish-speaking service, itís a real engagement of the identity of the people.
ARMSTRONG: Well, youíve already indicated that
diversity is staying at the table and you all have stayed at the table much
longer than I earlier asked. Any last words?
APONTE: If we put aside for a moment Latinos and
just go right back to where we started, which was black and white, and we look
at Roman Catholicism in New York City and Chicago and Los Angeles, I donít
think youíll find separate masses or any of that stuff. It doesnít really make
sense. With newcomer groups like the West Indians and Puerto Ricans, thereís a
basis for dealing with language minorities. Iím not sure that we want to see
separation along racial lines of two groups who speak the same language and are
in the same society, and are not newcomers.
PARKER-SAWYERS: I want to thank you for the time weíve
spent on this subject. This conversation says to me how desperately we need a
diversity institute that can keep the conversation going. This is a perfect
example of four people who work in various aspects of this community who come
to a table, agree to disagree, learn from each other, and still leave with
hours of conversation yet to be had. And thereís really not a place to have
this kind of depth of conversation, so I think this was an important event. As
I look to what Iíve been charged with at the university, this conversation is
exactly what we need to be doing on the campus because we need to be leading
JONES: I think the more conversation, the more
interaction that occurs, the greater the opportunity to open the doors of
diversity and understanding and recognition of the fact that the differences
among us are very few.
WALKER-SMITH: Dialogue is helpful, but right now
thereís a lot of frustration with dialogue. I think it can help, I think itís
admirable, and Iím glad to be at this conversation, but I think we have to be
realistic about how far that can take us and how far it simply wonít. And
unfortunately, our real challenge in working with African-American churches and
other people whoíve been on the margins of this whole conversation, is they
donít want to talk anymore. They just want to get about their business. I want
to comment also that I appreciated the paper, I donít want it to sound like I
didnít appreciate the paper. I found it helpful. Any time I get more
information about the churches that helps me do my job. I think your assertions
of the different categories of the congregations is a handle. I think thereís
even more there to be had. But itís a good starting point.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you all.