Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Reconciliation and Intercultural Studies (MA-RIS)

Department

Theology

First Advisor

Brenda Salter McNeil, D.Min., Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies

Keywords

Reconciliation—Religious aspects—Christianity, Ethnicity—Religious aspects—Christianity, Multiculturalism—Religious Aspects—Christianity, Image of God, Church and minorities, Church work with minorities, Categorization (Psychology), Community development, Social participation

Abstract

This thesis seeks to discover whether or not a focus on reconciliation in a local church can prompt the congregation to engage their multiethnic neighborhood and become a more diverse church. It argues that in the midst of a broken and hurting world the multiethnic congregation offers a reflection of the image of God and a message of hope to the world. Specifically, this project will explore the question, “Can a focus on reconciliation in the local church lead to an increase of social and cultural engagement by its congregants that produces positive change in the surrounding community?” As a result of this research, the scope of this thesis will also move to a more narrow focus that asks, “Can a focus on reconciliation with the staff of a local church lead to changes that produce an increase in the ethnic diversity of their congregation?” In conclusion, this thesis will demonstrate that an exploration of social psychology’s theory of categorization has direct implications for increasing the senior leaders’ role in developing a multiethnic congregation.

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