For those in the church who take seriously the call for the gospel to be multiethnic and multiracial there is an oft cited reality. According to the US census by the year 2045 the American population will be majority minority. No one ethnic group will hold dominance over the other racial categories, at least in terms of population totals. Even now we see our children challenging and changing our perceptions of what is normative between individuals of different races. The rise of biracial and interracial children in steadily growing numbers posses its own unique challenges to thinking about racial unity and ethnic diversity.
As American anglicans we can look out across the scope of our Anglicanism and intellectually assent to and applaud the diversity globally of our communion. Over Fifty countries were represented at the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem this year, most of the delegates arriving from the global south. The Pew Research Center as early as 2008 noted that over half of all Anglicans lived in Subsaharan Africa. In my own church we were founded under the auspices of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. However, the global weight of Anglicanism toward individuals of non-european ethnicity has not translated so easily to its American context.
For American anglicans it is another matter entirely to examine our own backyard. For many of us, including myself, there is a quite sense of desperation. We ask ourselves, how will our section of Global Anglicanism reflect the reality of our own culture? What steps must we take to hold fast to the historic church and engage our racial context? The Anglican Multiethnic Network and specifically it’s blog, The Coalition seeks to give voice to the small but growing number of individuals committed to educating the majority and advocating for the minority people groups within our church. The Coalition will give voice to ethnic minorities in leadership within the Anglican Church of North America. Indeed, in addition, The Coalition will introduce you to men and women of the majority white culture who seek to change the status quo.
If, however, The Coalition is only a megaphone for minority driven concerns than it will simply become a niche marketed resource. It will be just another soup box from which people will stand on only to be ignored by the audience. The blog will be a kin to spaces on the internet given over to debating which football team is truly “God’s Team.” In this case there is no doubt God’s team is located in God’s own country of Wisconsin and Title Town. The Coalition intends to be more than a niche space. While it will often include movie, book and music reviews, testimonies of minority voices in all white spaces it will also seek out ways in which the people of God can grow in godliness all the while never losing cite of the fact that God’s kingdom is multiethnic. You may find blog posts that have nothing specifically to do with multiethnic ministry besides possibly the author or the general goal of making us all more Christ like.
For my part, I write out of two distinct aspect of who God has graciously made me to be. For the last 18 years I have, as a white man, been married to an African American woman. I have been on a journey of discovering what it means to learn to see the world through her eyes. As a newlywed of three weeks I can remember being made uncomfortable by the stares we received walking hand-in-hand through Wal-Mart. It took me by surprise that this was going to be my new normal. In time I began to understand the depth of the struggle to carve out a place for the two of us and those like us both in society and in the church. There have been many surprises as I see things often times for the first time through her. I am proud to have her as a co-blogger with the rest of the community of writers who will be contributing to the work of AMEN.
Secondly, I write out of my experiences as a disabled person. Each disabled person will tell a unique story all to their own even as they share a common story of physical brokenness and pain. It is, I submit, what makes disability unique amongst other minorities. He or she is presented with a unique set of challenges and promises depending on the severity and cause of the disability. For my own part I have had eight surgeries on my right hand due to Cerebral Palsy focused in my right side. The simplest gesture, shaking a person’s hand, is for me one of the most awkward. Greeting a person with my right hand I am risking not being able to let go cleanly. I could do the over under with my left hand which brings on odd looks from a person who is not aware of my condition. I could lead with my left hand, but then again there is that moment of awkward pause as the other person registers the difference. Many times the second item I tell people has to with the intimate reality of my personal embodied experience.
As an editor and assistant to Esau for The Coalition I hope to create a place where our faith, adherence to orthodoxy and the rich traditions found in Anglicanism is fully explored together. The aim is not to destroy differences between the various writers and contributors, but rather to celebrate in God’s gracious love the plan he has for each and every individual and ethnicity. I would be eternally grateful to the Father above who has called me into this ministry and place if, at the end of AMEN’s existence, it would not longer feel as if multi-ethnic ministry is a strange and fearful ideal that the Anglican Church in North America is simply ill equipped to engage in.