What historically white denominations can learn from the Republican party

Bruce Reyes-Chow begins with race when looking at the election results:

The topic that has been particularly compelling to me has been about the future of the Republican party. In light of what one commentator described when talking about the impact of demographic racial diversity on the election saying, “The future as arrived” I am intrigued by how this mostly older, White Republican party will respond and adapt in order to regain influence?

Hey wait a gosh darn minute . . . White and older?

And this is where historically White and aging denominations like my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA) might want to tune into future discussions and developments in the Republican Party. Many of the Republican commentators described what is to come as anything from a pending civil war to a time for regrouping and deep soul-searching, but regardless of the intensity levels, there is obviously going to be some serious talk about how Republicans will reach the increasingly diverse United States population.

Yeah, kinda like what we Presbyterians and others need to do as well.

Reyes-Chow calls churches to “…stop seeing these demographic changes as problems that must be leveraged in order to avoid death and instead see these changes as transformational realities that must be embraced in order to experience new life.”

So as discussions about race continue in politics, and I hope in our churches, let us do so with pastoral hearts for the struggles that change invites, gracious voices that are committed to the conversation and liberating eyes toward who God may be intending for us to become.

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Category : The Lead

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  1. billydinpvd

    I’m not sure that the parallel between the GOP and the Church can sustain itself. The problem with Republicans this election cycle honestly doesn’t seem to have been that they were out of touch with the demographics of the US, but that they were out of touch with reality itself, and fronted candidates who shamelessly lied about everything from their positions, to the history of the last four years, to the state of things like the car industry.

    Bill Dilworth

  2. tgflux

    “Unless a seed fall into the soil and die…”

    If majority white denominations have to die, I’m OK w/ that. God’s Will be done, regardless.

    JC Fisher

    [My hunch is that the GOP won’t be quite so equivocal about its future. “God’s Anointed” and all that.]

  3. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawllr4vbR4IJI

    Could part of the problem be that we’re still worrying about racial makeup? What if we just worried about souls? I’m white, can’t change that, and I don’t want to be marginalized (well, any more than I already am for being gay) than I want women, blacks, hispanics, asians or anyone else to be marginalized – and the only way to do that is for us all to stop worrying about appealing to a particular demographic, otherwise we will always simply be trading tit for tat, one marginalized group for another.

    – Mark Brunson

  4. Jim Pratt


    In the ideal church, there would be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We’re not there yet.

    As a priest in the Diocese of Montréal, the demographic reality I see is very stark. Popular perception of the Anglican Church is that it is not the “Église anglicane” but the “Église anglaise”. Two generations ago most parishes were slow to welcome West Indian immigrants, sometimes not too subtly suggesting that they go to “black” churches like Union United, even though they were cradle Anglicans. To their credit, many refused to be turned away, and now all the largest parishes in the diocese have substantial numbers of West Indian members, though they are not well represented at the level of diocesan leadership. Despite a continuing decline in the English-speaking population, there has been very little outreach to new immigrant communities, or of any welcome to the francophone majority.

    Quite simply, we have the choice of being transformed by the multi-lingual, multi-cultural reality that is 21st century Montréal, or of persisting as a bastion anglo minority and becoming irrelevant.

  5. Maplewood

    Last summer I took a course on “Multi-culturalism in the Church” at our diocesan ESM. One of the surprising, but sensible, things I learned is that we *cannot* be color/race blind when we look at our church. Actually, we *must* look at our church, and our community, with an eye on race, ethnicity, et al.

    People-who-are-not-me see the world differently. Often, quite differently. If I take the approach that we can create a classless, raceless, all-inclusive church by making it blind to all those factors, then we are headed down the wrong road.

    First, we need to find a common place to meet other people, often ID’d as the “thought leaders” of a community, and start to talk to one another. Not search for “common ground”; that’s another topic for another time later on down the road. Start with a pot-luck and invite the folks we are looking to connect with and just *talk*.

    Kevin McGrane

  6. Maplewood

    One other thought, if I may, please…

    On NPR’s website there is a story entitled “For Religious Conservatives, Election was a Disaster”, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.


    Though it is about politics, it is also very appropriate to the topic of this Lead essay. In it, one of the evangelical leaders says,

    “If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community,” he says. “And that cannot, that cannot, serve the cause of Christ.”

    Even these guys get it. What about us???

    Kevin McGrane

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