The sheer amount of diversity in the Nazarene presence is astounding when compared to other parts of the country. Over one-third of all churches and members are in an identified minority ethnic group other than White or English-speaking.
Over one-third of these ethnic churches have more than 75 in worship attendance. They can support full-time ministers and a place of meeting.
Not surprisingly, living up to its historical identity as an ethnically diverse context, Metro New York district has by far the most ethnically identified churches. It was surprising to see so many more ethnic churches on the Virginia district than on the Philadelphia district. This is unexpected, except maybe for those living in northern Virginia.
The oldest congregation that identifies as multicultural is in Cambridge MA, organized in 1899, which has a wonderful history on its own. The most recent is an Hispanic congregation in Philadelphia in 2017.
The two largest ethnic identities are Hispanic and Haitian. These groups are not only unique within the majority context but also different from each other. One of the difficulties is leadership development: identifying leaders, mentoring them, and finding places of ministry. This is a monumental task for ethnic churches in the Northeast megaregion, especially as some cultural backgrounds are laden with strict age- and gender-based hierarchies of leadership. And, many new immigrants may not readily identify with Christianity as a significant cultural influence, as might be the case in Hispanic and Haitian communities.
Leave a Reply.