Date of Award

5-1-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

Degree Name

D.Min.

Abstract

The writer of this dissertation was in a very unique situation within the United Methodist Church. He was faced with as the first part of his title says, “Building a multicultural congregation.” In Chapter I we find that he lifts up the fact that the most segregated hour in the United States of America is the hour of worship for Christians every Sunday morning. In particular the writer was specifically concerned with Central Park United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama where he was assigned as senior pastor. He was immediately faced the issue of a church in a community that had changed due to white flight. Chapter II looks at the ministry issue that faced Central Park. The researcher had to honestly look at how to respond to a dying church, a church that has a sanctuary that seats 500 people but only welcomed 45-50 people to service on Sunday. Previously, the church had failed to look at the change of environment and had not made any steps towards inclusivity of the changed neighborhood that was now predominately African American. The researcher look at a systematic way offered by Robert Dale and Martin Samnen of tracking the growth of the church. As well as Mark Chaves’ book Congregations in America. It was in the reading of the aforesaid book he found the undergirding of how to deal with the issue of racism by providing for Central Park a model for racial reconciliation in worship. It was detenmned that a ministry of empowerment and spiritual growth was needed in order for Central Park to make any transition. Other resource matenal used to help address the ministry issue were Transforming Mission Paradigm S/il/is in Theology ofMission (American Society of Missiology) by David Bosch and The Church Enslaved. A Spirituality of Racial Reconciliation We find the literature review in Chapter III that considered for addressing the issue of multiculturalism and diversity in the society at large. Donald McGarvan was looked at for his missiological perspective and Charles Taylor for the empincal perspective. For the theoretical perspective the researcher looked at Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. He reviewed the theological perspective from Alfred North Whitehead’s point of view The researcher was drawn to the Book of Matthew (28:18-20) in regards to the biblical perspective. For the purpose of clarity and understanding he used the Contemporary English Version for interpretation It is in Matthew where the great commission from the Lord is lifted about disciple making. Jesus talked about nations that need to be discipled, thus people from all different backgrounds, ethnics, colors and genders were included. The researcher felt that Matthew brought another alternative to the two existing contexts at Central Park. Chapter IV looks at A Strategic Model for Ministry. With a white congregation located in a 95% black community there was a need to build a multicultural congregation at Central Park. The preliminary consideration was that Central open her doors to the community surrounding the church and that they become a visionary church. A church that will own responsibility for her geographical location. This was done in phases. Phase one dealt with inside the church and phase two dealt with outside the walls of the church. A qualitative and quantitative survey was conducted which led to the proposed strategy for Central Park. Thus, implications of the project were reviewed. The final chapter of this dissertation Chapter V is the summary and conclusion of the project itself. The researcher looked at what was learned from the project and gave an evaluation of the process. He concluded that the project demonstrated that there is a need for a paradigm shift in how we do ministry in the church.

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