3 Orientations for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in a Congregation

Ethno-Racial Diversity within Religious Congregations in Indianapolis
by Elfriede Wedam (Research Notes, Vol. 2, No. 4, August 1999)

... 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 congregation’s neighborhood context—its racial, ethnic, and class makeup—and 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.

... 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. ... A second category, asserting diversity... as a congregation, they make a vigorous effort to bring the diversity existing around them into their membership... A third group has a building diversity orientation.

Read the full research article at http://www.polis.iupui.edu/RUC/Newsletters/Research/vol2no4.htm

PDF of the article http://www.polis.iupui.edu/RUC/Newsletters/Research/Notes-011-1999-08.pdf

Research Notes is published by The Polis Center at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis as part of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc. http://thepoliscenter.iupui.edu

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