“This is not a normal Methodist church”. This was the conclusion of our confirmation class last Sunday. When pressed on this issue, the teenage boys said most United Methodist Churches are older, have more money, and are more white.
There is something different about this place. It only takes a cursory look around the sanctuary to see that this is an unusual place.
Gathered around the communion table are people who are black and white, middle class and low income, people with mental health and addiction issues, millionaires and prostitutes, grandparents raising great grandchildren and nuclear families.
The moniker “All People” that follows the name of our church, and so many of our ministries, it not just a title—it is a description of who we are. We have all people.
In today’s Richard Rohr devotional, he quotes Shane Claiborne who said, “We are always most comfortable around people who are like us. I think that’s true of almost any human being. For those who have been in a majority population as white, middle class folks, we have to be extra deliberate about putting ourselves in places where we are a minority. Maybe we should worship where we’re a minority, where we can hear the Gospel with new ears.”
At the Church for All People every day brings with it an opportunity to listen with new ears.
One of the greatest gifts of our church is not only its diversity, but how each voice is given an opportunity to be heard in its own heart language. This manifests itself in the sharing of joys and concerns that is often as long as the sermon. It is heard in the call to worship that expresses “We are a church for all people.” Diversity is practiced in the selection of music that can range from gospel to traditional hymns, from rap to contemporary Christian music. The image of God is seen in the diverse faces of people invited to read scripture and lead worship.
A few months ago a gentleman shared during prayer time, “Martin Luther King said that 11 o’clock on Sunday is the most segregated hour, but somehow you all done figured this thing out.”
There are many lessons still to be learned, but when it comes to bringing a diverse group of people together around the same table, we done figured this thing out.