Unity in Diversity
A Workshop Experience
By: Grace Carolyn Brown
FutureChurch, in keeping with its mission to assure the full participation of all Catholics in the Church, offered a well-attended March 4 workshop entitled Diversity and Spiritual Maturity. Building Inclusive Faith Communities. Organized and led by Bill Appleton, a member of the FutureChurch Leadership Council and a Certified Diversity Professional, the event was an unqualified success. Twenty-five people gathered to what one attendee called “an astounding experience of valuing differences and celebrating diversities in a new way.”
In a fast moving morning of participatory sharing, we were encouraged to take a reflective look at our learned views of each other in a Christ centered format. The first experience involved viewing images that each of us assumed to be of a complex biological and even spiritual nature but which in reality were simply magnified shots of an ordinary process. From the beginning of the session to the end we shared our experiences, our joys and fears and most of us discovered the challenge and power in the twin concepts of spiritual maturity and diversity. Each activity was creative and led us to discover actions that can, when we are willing, transform our interactions and our spiritual lives.
When we arrived, some of us may have been fairly certain or at least comfortable about where we were in our thinking around racial and gender issues. We were led to think beyond race and gender, and to look with eyes of love and acceptance toward diversity in many dimensions. It was a most enlightening experience to learn from our co-participants, and appreciate each other for our diverse life experiences and maturity levels.
Considering the gravity and pain that intolerance and spiritual immaturity bring, and our need to more fully explore these issues, we enthusiastically agreed that we must come together again and further explore these concepts so critical to our faith and the mission of FutureChurch.
The closing prayer was most appropriate. It was aptly titled: Kaleidoscopic God*. We asked the God of radiance to help us to love ourselves as we mirror the divine image to the world. When we grow tired of this struggle and feel alone in our weariness, we ask for strength and when we grow faint of heart we remember the victories of our ancestors. We asked our Kaleidoscopic God to help us understand the gifts we bring into this broken world, the gift of God’s own love of color and variety and the precious gift of Jesus, who touched all and loved all. *Source: Malcom Boyd & Chester Talton, Race and Prayer By Collected Voices, Many Dreams.
Grace Brown is a member of the FutureChurch Leadership Council and Chair of the Program Committee.