Many evangelical churches have grown in diversity, but are they places of true unity and equity? In the March issue of CT, sociologist Korie Little Edwards explains why the multiethnic church movement hasn’t lived up to its promises–and how it still could.
Join Little Edwards along with Rich Villodas, Rebecca Y. Kim, Naima Lett, and Curtiss Paul DeYoung for a live discussion on the fruits and challenges of multiethnic congregations.
Korie Little Edwards
Korie Little Edwards, PhD, is associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University. She is a leading scholar of race and religion in the United States and past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, an international, interdisciplinary association. She has written several books and articles on multiracial religious organizations. These include The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in Interracial Churches (Oxford University Press) and Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations (co-author, New York University Press).
Her current scholarship focuses on matters related to race and religious leadership. She has a forthcoming book called Smart Suits, Tattered Boots: Black Ministers Mobilizing the Black Church in the Twenty-First Century that draws upon black religious leaders’ engagement in the 2012 election to understand their engagement in civic and political activity.
Little Edwards is also principal investigator of a national study of multiracial church pastors called the Religious Leadership and Diversity Project (RLDP). The RLDP is the most in-depth, comprehensive project ever conducted on leaders of multiracial congregations. A special journal issue featuring research from this project was published last year. She and her team continue to develop articles and books out of this study.
Rich Villodas is the Brooklyn-born lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large, multiracial church with more than 75 countries represented in Elmhurst, Queens. He is also a key speaker for Emotionally Healthy Discipleship—a movement that has touched hundreds of thousands of people.
Villodas graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry and theology from Nyack College. He went on to complete his master of divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. His award-winning book, The Deeply Formed Life, was released in September 2020. He and his wife, Rosie, have two beautiful children and reside in Queens.
Rebecca Y. Kim
Rebecca Y. Kim is the Frank R. Seaver Chair of Social Science, a professor of sociology, and the director of the ethnic studies program at Pepperdine University. She specializes in immigration, race, and religion and has published widely on such topics, particularly related to Asian American evangelicals. She is the author of God’s New Whiz Kids? Korean American Evangelicals on Campus (New York University Press 2006) and The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America (Oxford University Press 2015).
She has recently conducted research as a co-investigator of the Religious Leadership and Diversity Project, a nationwide study on faith, race, and leadership of multiethnic congregations led by Korie Little Edwards. She is also currently conducting research as part of the Landscape Study of Chaplaincy and Campus Ministry in the United States.
Naima Lett is a church planter and co-pastor of Hope in the Hills in Beverly Hills. An award-winning actor, producer, and author, she loves helping folks find their purpose and follow their dreams while deepening their faith. Her candid and humorous storytelling make her an in-demand speaker, lecturer, and performer who cares for souls in the City of Angels and across the globe.
She successfully created, produced, and toured several one-woman plays internationally while forming Lett’s Rise! Productions with her husband, Kevin. Naima graduated top honors with a bachelor of fine arts from Howard University, received Dallas Seminary’s first masters in media and communications, and became the first woman to earn a doctor of ministry in preaching from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Her forthcoming book series is titled Confessions of a Hollywood Christian.
Curtiss Paul DeYoung
Curtiss Paul DeYoung is the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches whose 27-member communions include historic Black, mainline Protestant, Pentecostal, and Greek Orthodox denominations, as well as the Dakota (Native American) Presbytery. The council builds ecumenical and interfaith unity through working for racial and social justice. DeYoung previously served as the executive director of the historic faith-based racial justice organization Community Renewal Society in Chicago.
DeYoung was the inaugural professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rev. DeYoung served on staff at congregations in Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington, DC. He is an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). He consults and speaks internationally with extensive relationships among activists and peacemakers in South Africa and the Holy Land.
DeYoung, PhD, earned degrees from the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), Howard University School of Theology (Washington, DC), and Anderson University (Indiana). He is an author and editor of 12 books on racial justice, reconciliation, and cultural competency. With South African antiapartheid activist Allan Boesak, he co-authored Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism (Orbis).
He was on the editorial team for The Peoples’ Bible (Fortress). Among his other books are Becoming Like Creoles: Living and Leading at the Intersections of Injustice, Culture, and Religion (Fortress), United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race (Oxford), and Reconciliation: God’s Timeless Call to Justice, Healing, and Transformation (Wipf and Stock). DeYoung has been married since 1984 and has three adult children.
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