I had a meeting this morning at a local church that is known for its emphasis on transethnicity. That is, they understand the importance of a multicultural community, and their membership is quite diverse, but they want to encourage respect for cultural/racial/ethnic differences while also transcending those differences in keeping with a Kingdom perspective that emphasizes a shared identity in Christ.
The meeting kicks off a study we are conducting on this church’s model of transethnicity in particular. One student working on the project is going to complete his dissertation on transethnicity as an organizational identity, which it is in this case.
We are asking people in the congregation and lay leaders to complete a survey. We also anticipate interviews with some of the pastoral leadership, as well as visits to Life Groups to allow additional people from the congregation to share their experiences. We are particularly interested in why people were initially drawn to a transethnic church, as well as why people choose to stay in a transethnic church.
It is interesting to think about transethnicity as a novel concept that contrasts somewhat with the broader multicultural movement. Some experience the multicultural movement as emphasizing cultural or ethnic or racial distinctives but that the conversation can at times begin and end with an awareness and perhaps even a celebration of those differences. Transethnicity appears to be a different way to engage people interested in some of what the multiculturalism movement offers.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this church’s model is understood and experienced by people in the congregation, lay leadership, and pastoral leadership, and to see what it might bring to a mainstream understanding of multiculturalism.