Jumpstarts for Diversity Work: Break the Ice


Plan a season-long, weekly, Lenten or Advent study with members or your church and those of one or two churches from different racial-ethnic groups for the stated purpose of building cross-cultural relationships and deepening your experience of the Christian year.

Photo courtesy of Jeehye Kim Pak

Get permission and buy-in from the pastor, Christian education chairperson, and lay leader, then name a small group with representatives from each church to select curriculum, plan, and lead the study. Look for resources with inclusive images, language and interesting themes.

For instance, during Lent a black church and white church together studied African-American spirituals and their influence on abolition and racial justice. In addition to the curriculum, class members listened to classical recordings by the renowned Fisk University Jubilee singers and performed a little-known spiritual at a joint Good Friday worship service.

When planning classes, be sure to alternate leadership of classes so that representatives from each church have opportunities to teach. You may want to alternative meeting sites so that members get to visit one another’s churches, or meet off-site in a place convenient to all participants.

Finally, consider planning separate classes for children and youth, adding hands-on craft projects or intergenerational discussion time. Design devotions to begin and end each session, and, if possible, conclude the seasonal study with a joint worship service. Then, find ways to keep the relationship going, such as quarterly joint worship or working together on an annual mission project to build upon the relationship.


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GCORR is building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.