Leading the Way or Dragging Their Feet: The Problem of Segregation in Christian Churches

Prof. Eric Hartman
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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted/lamented that Sunday morning was the most segregated time in America. Those words still ring true. In what I anticipate being a paper dealing with both theory and practice, I intend to ask and answer why that is. However, part of my investigation has to do with why Christian churches have not progressed in this area while so many other institutions have made, at least official, strides. I will contend, first, that diversity (particularly ethnic) needs to be valued, but it is not. I will contend that there are practices in churches that are counterproductive to diversity, which should cease, and that there are practices which need to implement. I will attempt to ask and answer how diversity efforts can/should be similar to those in other institutions and how/why they may be different. [I've selected 60 minute workshop as I anticipate nice interaction, but I'm happy enough to do a 30 minute presentation instead.]

Keywords: Diversity in Christian Churches, Segregation in Christian Congregations, Diversity as a Value in Christian Churches, Christians Churches Far Behind in Diversity Efforts
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Eric Hartman

Adjunct Professor, Theological Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I teach preaching (effective communication) to future pastors in two seminaries in the Dallas/Fort. Worth area. I also serve as the senior pastor of a Southern Baptist church. I am a PhD candidate in Rhetoric at The University of Texas at Arlington. My interests are in effective preaching in a postmodern context and in racial segregation/diversity in Christian churches. In particular, I'm exploring why churches are lagging far behind (in comparision with instutions and sports, etc.) in the area of ethnic diversity. My assessment is that, if Christianity is to be true to its biblical roots, it should actually be leading the way in this regard and local churches should reflect racial harmony and congregations that ethnically represent the local community. I have been involved in trying to create such congregations, beginning with my own.

Ref: D06P0111