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Church integration efforts in South Carolina

Church integration efforts in South Carolina

Photo Credit The Post and Courier

Racial segregation is the de facto standard for American Christian worship, but some churches are making a concentrated effort to integrate their communities. Writing for the Post and Courier, Adam Parker and Jennifer Berry Hawes profile integrated worship at several churches in Charleston, South Carolina.

Parker and Hawes note that St. Mark’s Episcopal Church already has started a permanent integration effort, but that care has to be taken to prevent the church culture from being dominated by the newer white congregants.

The article quotes Minerva King, vestry member:

“People who encouraged white worshippers to join didn’t always know the history of the church and black culture,” she said. And when two cultures mix, it’s usually the dominant one that takes over. “All people should be able to retain their identity without fear of ideological colonization,” King said. […]

“I welcome everybody into that church,” King said. “But please don’t come with the idea, ‘Now that I’m here, let’s get the party started.’”

Does your church work towards integration in your regular services? Have you visited a church where the worshippers didn’t look like you? Are you conscious of the danger of cultural erasure when white congregants flock to a church they didn’t previously visit?


Posted by David Streever


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Paul Woodrum

South Carolina? How about integrating Episcopalians and Anglicans.

Randall Stewart

I suspect that is not what was intended, or implied.

Randall Stewart

Why does integration have to involve clapping? Just curious.

Jay Croft

Randall, who said that integration “has to ” involve clapping?

Maybe the folks in the picture were applauding a report of a successful bake sale, or the institution of a new rector, or something like that.

Jay Croft

This also affects situations other than racial. For example, my ministry has been with congregations of Deaf people, and I am Deaf myself.

It is a constant struggle to preserve our Deaf culture and language against the “hearing” norms.

Jay Croft

Thank you, David. It goes beyond church experience. The educational systems, including in residential schools for Deaf children and youth, are largely controlled by people who are not Deaf.

Likewise the judicial, political and governmental systems–in fact, just about any system you can think of.

We at St. Barnabas’ Deaf Church, in the Diocese of Washington, are very proud that one of us, Thomas Hattaway, was recently elected to Diocesan Council. This may be the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church–and perhaps in the entire Anglican Communion– that a Deaf person has attained such a position.

Bobby Weatherly

Mississippi-in the Episcopal Diocese, I think there is a general desire by many congregations to be more diverse, reflecting the diversity of the population, but we don’t have an effective strategy to accomplish that.

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