The Bible tells us that all men and women are made in the image of God, with equal value and dignity, and that in Jesus Christ the divisions that humans erect between people groups have been torn down, so that God can create a new humanity, in which people from every nation, tribe and tongue will live in unity. (Genesis 1:26-27; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-16; Revelation 7:9)
Diversity is God’s idea, and we want to celebrate and cultivate it in our church. Racism is wholly incompatible with the good news of Jesus.
It is our stated aim to have gender and ethnic diversity at all levels of leadership and influence within Christ Church London. In recent years we have made some progress on this, but not enough, and certainly not at the pace we would like. We still have a long way to go.
In recent months, the Leadership Team has spent many hours learning, praying, reading, and in conversation with people, both inside and outside of our church. We are seeking to hear and understand the experiences our brothers and sisters from different minority groups, and plan a path forward as a result.
We want to express some of the areas where we are already working, and where we are committed to working in the coming months and years. These are by no means all the things we need to work on, but they represent areas where we are in progress. We recognise that some changes can be made quickly, whilst others need to be slow and incremental, if they are to be deep, genuine and lasting.
Celebrating diversity in our services
We are already blessed with a diverse group of men and women who lead in many ways within our church. It is our intention for each service to have a Leadership Team, who have influence and responsibility for the service. These teams will be comprised of men and women, and over time will come to reflect the diversity of the service and the community it serves. Some of our services have already formed diverse Leadership Teams, whilst others are in the process of doing so. We will seek to communicate clearly who those teams and key leaders are, as they develop.
We are currently piloting a preaching training programme, with a view to creating more opportunities for a diverse group of volunteer preachers. We have already created guidelines to help our preachers learn from a broader range of voices, and increase the diversity of examples, illustrations, quotes, and influences they draw on in their sermons. Where we have opportunities to hear from guest preachers, we will seek to invite men and women from different backgrounds and ethnicities, to speak into our church.
We will not only focus on the diversity of people involved in the services, but also the content, continuing to preach on, profile and pray about social issues, and subjects such as racial diversity.
We are already blessed with a diverse group of worship leaders and musicians, but often our song choices and musical styles are limited. Our worship leaders now have more freedom to draw from a wider range of songwriters, and broaden their styles of musical and cultural expression, in line with the make up of their particular service. We are also encouraging the writing of more home-grown songs, reflecting the sounds of our city and the mission of our church.
Celebrating diversity in our staff and leadership
We are currently developing a leadership pipeline to facilitate our goal of gender and ethnic diversity at all levels of leadership. Moving forward we will also make diversity considerations a priority in hiring for ministry and leadership positions.
We regularly review our Trustee board, to ensure it reflects the diversity of our church, and we added two new members at our Spring 2021 meeting. And we will develop deeper relationships with pastors and leaders who can speak into our church and help us grow in the areas of diversity and inclusion.
As a church that meets in four locations across London, we will need to develop a strategy for the whole church, but also for each of our services, with the unique challenges and opportunities they face in serving their communities.
In January 2023, Helen Marasha, who leads our Stockwell service, joined our Service Leadership Team, and in April 2023, we invited Adnan Khan and Natalie Powell to join our Service Leadership Team, as part of their development as Associate Pastors. From May 2023, we have invited four different leaders, including women and men of ethnic heritages, to sit with the Senior Leadership Team for 6 months. This provides an opportunity for the SLT to benefit from other voices and for these individuals to experience the life of the team.
Celebrating diversity in our broader church life
We are also reviewing how we address and celebrate diversity in every area of church life, including our communications and social media, events, charitable giving, and leadership within our serving teams.
We are working to increase the diversity of our Children’s teams, and have recently spoken to parents and team members who have shared their personal experiences. We are reviewing our children’s materials and resources to ensure that they accurately portray the ethnicity of people in Scripture, and we have begun training our volunteers to help them know how to support families and children in celebrating the diversity of our city and church.
We have also put together a list of recommended resources to help our Connect Group leaders facilitate positive conversations about racial unity and the gospel, and will work with our Connect Group leaders to help them create diverse and welcoming communities.
As we journey together in this, we would ask for your partnership, so we can build a genuinely diverse and unified church. Please join us in praying that Christ Church London would increasingly be a beautiful expression of the gospel to this city, demonstrating the power of Jesus, and his good news of reconciliation.