Some scientists claim that biodiversity serves as the foundation of all life. Biodiversity refers to the variety of species within an ecosystem and includes the ways the various species interact with one another to survive and help each other thrive. A healthy, biodiverse system prevents extinction (because disease which attacks one variety of plant may not attack a similar plant with different genetic material); it provides clean water, as each part of the system does its own work; it protects systems from natural disasters as well as speeds up the recovery process; and it helps with pollination and fertilization, ensuring the future of the species.
God, who so beautifully designed our natural world to be biodiverse, also created the human species to be diverse. Just as diversity helps nature to survive and thrive, diversity can help our churches to survive and thrive. When we become monocultural, for example, all white or all black, we miss out on the gifts that we give and receive from each culture. This lack can make us sick. In the American West, ranchers killed off coyotes because of their harassment of livestock. However, the coyote ate deer mice, which help to spread hantaviruses. Once the coyotes no longer killed the mice, they began coming indoors and spreading their viruses to humans. Ranchers learned their lesson and reintroduced coyotes back into the wild. Likewise, our church can become spiritually sick when we get rid of those who are different from us.
One of the ways the Conference wants to address this potential illness involves Cross-Racial Cross-Cultural appointments. In this strategy, the Bishop and Cabinet appoint a pastor to a congregation who is ethnically different from themselves. By introducing diversity within the system, we cause some initial upheaval as the system adapts. However, in the long term, the congregation can become more diverse, and therefore healthier.
Want to know more? Join us for a workshop on September 21 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Ezion-Mt. Carmel UMC 800 N. Walnut St. Wilmington, Delaware. We invite teams from churches to attend, including SPRC members, Council members, and others interested. Registration will be available in mid-August on the conference website.