Crossing the Ethnic Divide - New Award for Book on Multiracial Church in Los Angeles ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crossing the Ethnic Divide - New Award for Book on Multiracial Church in Los Angeles

Congratulations to Kathleen Garces-Foley whose book

Crossing the Ethnic Divide:
The Multiethnic Church on a Mission

received an Outstanding Academic Title award from CHOICE reviews. Way to go Kathleen!

In awarding Outstanding Academic Title status, the editors of CHOICE apply these criteria:

  • overall excellence in presentation and scholarship
  • importance relative to other literature in the field
  • distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form
  • originality or uniqueness of treatment
  • value to undergraduate students
  • importance in building undergraduate library collections

This is one of several recent in-depth studies (along with A Mosaic of Believers, People of the Dream, The Elusive Dream, and Hollywood Faith) published on churches that have successfully diversified.

Crossing the Ethnic Divide focuses on the ethno-racial diversity of the dynamic, pan-Asian Evergreen Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The church is pastored by Ken Fong.

My review of the book appeared in the September 2008 issue of the Review of Religious Research. In it, I write about one of the most important themes of the book: how Crossing the Ethnic Divide focuses on the church's theology of discomfort.

From my review:
Awkward inter-cultural interactions at church connect with the highest ideals for evangelizing the entire world. Theological significance extends to even the most minor inconveniences as the “cost” of diversity is a “sacrifice” for the sake of the gospel. Rather than seeing Christian spirituality as a means to ease suffering or remove all discomforts, racial reconciliation is hard work requiring sacrifices from everyone. Members experience “spiritual challenges” which give a sense of purpose and self-esteem. Living outside of one’s “comfort zone” becomes a sign of Christian maturity.

I also appreciate how the book describes the unique role of boundary crossers:

“Boundary crossers” are critical for the successful diversification of the congregation as they are effective at finding alternative bases for forming social ties away from race-ethnicity.

Yet as the author notes, “the challenge for the church trying to become multiethnic is how to attract those who want to be in diverse settings to a church that is not yet diverse” (p. 131). Leaders must build a critical mass of underrepresented ethnic-racial groups to attract boundary crossers.

There's much more in the book, and other very positive book reviews have been published, like Russell Jeung's here and Rebecca Y. Kim's here .

You can take a look at the book itself through Google Books preview.

No comments: