Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Learning into a Multi-Cultural UU World

Another question posed by the UUA staff in their strategic plan for ministry was this:  What can we learn from our community ministers about living into the promise of our multicultural world?

Interesting question which I hope some folks with more experience in community ministry will chime in to answer.  But I have  (what a surprise!)  a different bias on this question, which comes from my experience of modest effectiveness in diversifying congregations.

I believe that multi-cultural congregations are like happiness.  You don't become happy by setting that as your goal and going towards it full-tilt.  You get happy by making relationships, developing interests, lending a helping hand, dealing with your inner demons and so on.   Happiness, in other words, is a by-product of life effectiveness.

I think that multi-cultural congregations are similarly a product of congregational effectiveness, rather than goal-setting or learning,  especially effectiveness in reaching the Gen X and Millennial generations, where "multi-cultural" is the name of their game.   Sometimes it seems to me that our fantasy is that if we learn enough about being a multi-cultural congregation, we will enjoy great waves of 50 and 60 year old persons of color who have been patiently waiting for us to get our act together.  I doubt this.  If we achieve our goal of multi-culturalism, it will be because we have attracted young people to our church and welcomed them...their music, their visual learning style, their multi-culturalism, and most of all, their desire to explicitly address their spiritual lives.

It seems to me that Community ministers might have something to teach us, but that our RE community has more to teach us and that they should be consulted, too.  


Bill Baar said...

If we become a multicultural Church, it will be because we draw in people who've rejected something about their own culture, heritage, and traditions. I'm not certain the folks talking multicultrualism quite grasp that.

Our Churches are filled with people firm on their rejections, and fuzzy on their affirmations other than a deep commitment to protecting our right to reject.

Angie said...

I like that. It is like happiness, in that way. Nice analogy. Or metaphor? I always get those mixed up.