Diversity implies differences or a range of things that differ from one another. Where people are concerned, diversity may be seen in age, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, physical abilities, gender, political beliefs and other ideologies.
When diversity is discussed in the Church, it is usually with the intention to accept, respect and celebrate differences in individuals as unique creations of God. Some, however, feel that the idea of diversity is overused, to the extent that we are expected to accept anything different. The concepts of inclusiveness and equal opportunity—meant to combat racism, sexism, ageism in the workplace—are now sometimes used to campaign for other kinds of rights.
Diversity among people committed to similar passions can be helpful. As long as everyone remembers we want the same vision, members with diverse gifts and perspectives can help the Church engage in more robust and comprehensive debate. Certainly, there is a pull towards homogeneity, to find people of the same tongue, age group or personality type. We also plan activities around sameness such as age-related activities, ladies’ and men’s ministries, and different language worship services.
Yet, such segregation without opportunities for integration can retard mutual understanding and growth of love for others in the body. To borrow a leaf from Martin Luther King Jr, a church service could be the most segregated hour. Diversity that segregates is not strength – it is togetherness that will bring strength to our ideas, service and connectedness.
Dr Seow Bee Leng, a member of Toa Payoh Methodist Church, wrote in to share her thoughts
By the Structural Review Task Force