Make it real!

Make it real!

I am presently attending the gathering of the New Zealand Baptists in Auckland and our theme this year is “Diversity”. Since becoming part of the movement in 2006, I have heard this cry of the union to embrace multiculturalism. We are a multicultural nation and we are seeing people from all the different continents of the world making New Zealand their home. So I can understand this desire to grow our ethnic ministries and to see our Baptist movement representing the makeup of New Zealand.

However I wonder if we are genuinely keen to embrace diversity or if we are just paying lip service.On Thursday, in front of the sign that said “DIVERSITY”, we were introduced to the 7 Regional Mission Leaders. They were all white middle-aged men. The leader of the multi-cultural ministry is also a white middle-aged man. (All these men are very capable and spiritually gifted and I am not in anyway undermining their abilities) Our Assembly Council do not have a multi-cultural representation. It saddens me that I am not seeing anything put in practice in the last 7 years to show that we are genuinely wanting to embrace diversity.

If we are genuine in wanting to promote diversity in our Baptist churches, we need to seriously address the issues of inequity within the leadership of our movement. Right across the world advocating for racial justice has rested on the shoulders of minority cultures, whilst the dominant culture pats themselves on their backs because they are talking about diversity. Cultural diversity is not just about recruiting a staff member from a different culture or setting up a ministry to reach a minority culture. Diversity is more than a multi-cultural issue. It’s about recognising people of other cultures as equals and given the opportunity to share in the leadership. It’s about embracing the richness of the cultures they represent and their ideas and thoughts on issues facing the New Zealand church and society.

My hope is that as Baptists, we will stop talking about diversity. Instead we will take intentional steps to make it happen. If not our movement will lose its authenticity. As a reasonably new Asian Baptist pastor in the movement, I long to see the day when ethnic leaders can stand as equals on stage with the dominant culture. My dream is that when people look at the Baptist movement in New Zealand, they will see diversity embedded in our culture, theology and practice.

E Ihowā Atua,
O ngā iwi mātou rā
Āta whakarangona;
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau tō atawhai;
Manaakitia mai

O Lord, God,
of all people
Listen to us,
Cherish us
May good flourish,
May your blessings flow.
Aotearoa (New Zealand)

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