“…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23) Jesus’s prayer to the Father reveals his desire for the church: unity. But are we actually embracing his aspiration of an unbiased, multicultural, multi-ethnic community united as one in Christ? According to Hartford Institute for Religion Research, a study conducted by sociologist Michael Emerson in the ’90s indicated that multiracial churches where only 20 percent of members were from a distinct racial group than the church’s majority accounted for only 7-8 percent of U.S. congregations. Recent national events that have exposed racial division and hostility make it all the more essential for us to emphasize the Lord’s design for the church: displaying the gospel’s power to transform lives and bring racial reconciliation to our nation. How can the Arise City Summit 2015 help equip the church to meet the desperate need of engaging our urban communities with the gospel? And how can you be a part of this movement?
The dictionary describes multiculturalism as “the existence, recognition, or preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society.” The Apostle Paul shared a similar thought when he explained to the Corinthian church that “the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body,” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Our cities are in need of unity in the diverse Body of Christ. The church of Syrian Antioch experienced this unity when diverse followers of Jesus, Gentiles and Jews, worshiped the Lord with one accord. Progress cannot take place in a community or society that does not contain a unified church.
This year’s topic for the Arise City Summit is The Gospel & Social Justice. Our purpose is to address the racial division in the American church and propose biblical solutions for racial reconciliation in the urban context. Failed attempts by many Americans to achieve justice for the painful divisions within communities have discouraged and dejected many. It is our responsibility as men and women of God to focus on the necessity of spreading the gospel to these communities. Our target includes inner-city communities with a large working class, African American, Hispanic, and class-integrated suburbs. In order to achieve progress and healing in the lives of the individuals affected by social controversy, we must focus our missions around the gospel and discipleship. Only the power of the gospel can unite our churches and our nation.
In order to support our efforts for the Arise City Summit 2015, you can spread the word. Are you a minister or church leader? Join us in our purpose by attending the event and bringing other missions-minded members with you. Our desire is that the Word of God will shine in our lives so that we can be vessels of truth, love and justice to those who have no hope. What a great joy it would be to see our multicultural city come together as one. God would be pleased to see us experience his love through the rich blessing of unity in our diversity. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7:9)
Written by: Ambar Pineiro