Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Sincere Support or Subtle Subversion: Do Congregants Truly Endeavor to Integrate the Black Church to Embrace Multiculturalism?

Dana Carson
Regent University

The Black Church, with its segregated congregations, has long represented the rich tradition and heritage of the Black community, often serving as the center of power, progression, the political, the educational and social foundation, and perhaps most importantly, an oasis in a hostile world for African Americans. The custodians of the Black Church recognize the value of this institution to the Black community and have worked to preserve its place as a pillar of this community. When issues of making the church more multicultural are raised, however, the Black Church is faced with the critical dilemma of giving up what it represents as a segregated institution in efforts to offer a greater appeal to non-Blacks. While Black pastors may promote visions of integrated churches, it could be possible that there are those within the Black Church who might act in ways that either actively or subconsciously deter or hinder integration efforts in order to preserve the legacy of the segregated Black Church. This study examined the attitudes and mindsets of pastors and congregations of Black churches to determine whether they sincerely desired to integrate their churches. Results indicated that congregants in predominantly Black churches did not undermine attempts toward integration in their churches. Further, results revealed that African Americans did sincerely desire to integrate their Black churches, but only if this integration did not mean that they had to sacrifice their culture for multiculturalism. Almost unanimously, both congregants and pastors felt that they facilitated efforts of integration.