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In the last four decades, desegregation has revolutionized almost every aspect of life in the United States: schools, businesses, government offices, even entertainment. But there is one area that remains largely untouched, and that is the church. Now comes a major new call for multiracial congregations in every possible setting—a call that is surprisingly controversial, even in the twenty-first century.
In United By Faith, a multiracial team of sociologists and a minister of the Church of God argue that multiracial Christian congregations offer a key to opening the still-locked door between the races in the United States. They note, however, that a belief persists—even in African-American and Latino churches—that racial segregation is an acceptable, even useful practice. The authors examine this question from biblical, historical, and theological perspectives to make their case. They explore the long history of interracialism in the church, with specific examples of multiracial congregations in the United States. They cite examples ranging from the abolitionist movement to an astonishing 1897 camp meeting in Alabama that brought together hundreds of whites and blacks literally into the same tent. Here, too, is a critical account of the theological arguments in favor of racial separation, as voiced in the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Native-American, and white contexts. The authors respond in detail, closing with a foundation for a theology suited to sustaining multiracial congregations over time.
Faith can be the basis for healing, but too often Christian faith has been a field for injury and division. In this important new book, readers will glimpse a way forward, a path toward once again making the church the basis for racial reconciliation in our still-splintered nation.
"Groundbreaking in establishing the moral and ethical basis for multiracial churches. It is truly prophetic in asserting that to be the church of Jesus Christ, the American church needs a multiracial movement." --Religious Studies Review
|Introduction: Divided or United by Faith?||1|
|I||Biblical Antecedents for Multiracial Congregations|
|1.||A House of Prayer for All the Nations||9|
|2.||Congregations in the Early Church||21|
|II||Multiracial Congregations in the United States|
|3.||Congregations and the Color Line (1600-1940)||41|
|4.||The Emergence of Multiracial Congregations (1940-2000)||62|
|5.||A Closer Look at Four Multiracial Congregations||75|
|III||Rationales for and Responses to the Racial Segregation of Congregations|
|6.||Rejecting the White Man's Religion||99|
|7.||Separate but Equal||113|
|8.||Arguing the Case for Multiracial Congregations||128|
|IV||Developing Multiracial Congregations in the Twenty-first Century|
|9.||The Truth of the Gospel||147|
|10.||The Promise and the Challenges of Multiracial Congregations||162|
|Epilogue: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race||181|