Embracing Diversity: Leadership in Multicultural Congregations

Foster, Charles R. Embracing Diversity: Leadership in Multicultural Congregations. [Bethesda, MD:] The Alban Institute, 1997.

Author Charles Foster develops Embracing Diversity to explore the impact of cultural and racial diversity in US and Canadian society on congregational identity and mission, to examine the dynamics of leadership that embrace such diversity, and to invite leaders to consider the “dynamics of difference” at work in the leadership of their own congregations. Building on his earlier book We Are the Church Together (co-authored with Theodore Brelsford), Foster draws attention to the challenges leaders of multicultural congregations face in their liturgical, educational, missional and administrative practices. Book chapters focus on issues integral to the creation of community and the nurture of congregational leadership, including: cultivating and negotiating practices of embrace for mission and ministry; welcoming strangers in a community of fellowship and care; developing practices of congregational conversation; and attending to the event-centered nature of the multicultural congregation. Foster finds that the leadership of multicultural congregations is transformative, anticipatory and relational, and that embracing difference serves to heighten leaders’ awareness of power dynamics in the mutual encounter of diverse groups.