Big Dream in Little Rock

What multiracial church looks like in the town formerly infamous for segregation.

Roaches occasionally crawl along the tile floor of the 80,000-square-foot space. The flags of 21 nations, representing the different nationalities of attendees, are all about the room. Sitting in the chairs are about 400 people, including a U.S. senator (Mark Pryor), a homeless man, a former nba star, an undocumented alien, a local tv anchorwoman, a Middle Eastern convert from Islam, an attorney, a disabled teenager, a physician, an alcoholic, and a blind man. It is a mosaic of a church. In fact it is Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas.

By his third year at a predominantly white megachurch in Little Rock, Mark DeYmaz had settled comfortably into his youth pastor position. But in 1997, the 40th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock schools, DeYmaz still felt some attitudes had changed little in the Arkansas capital, which is 55 percent white and 40 percent black. He sensed God calling him to be a catalyst for change in this historic battleground for civil rights. By 2001, the church had held its first service.

Mosaic's growing congregation meets in a building abandoned by Wal-Mart. DeYmaz preaches only half the services. Early on, DeYmaz recognized that "one size fits all" doesn't work in worship. So there is no dominant style. Seven different worship teams take turns leading Sunday services.

"If the worship style is the same from week to week, it will appeal only to a certain segment of the population, which puts up an unintended barrier," DeYmaz says.

DeYmaz likens worship at Mosaic to a family dinner. The teenage son might not like liver on Tuesday night. Grandma might not like pizza on Friday. But they endure it for the sake of unity. And so, while non-Hispanics may not care for Latino worship at first, it helps break ...

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