"May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me." - Jesus, John 17:23

United by Faith by DeYoung, Emerson, Yancey, and Kim

United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race

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« click here to read an excerpt from this book

« click here to listen to a presentation on multiracial congregations that all four authors gave at the CCDA conference in 2005

A brief summary

This excellent book was co-written by four Christian authors from a variety of ethnic, academic, and ministry backgrounds with a wealth of knowledge and experience on issues related to ethnic relations. It covers a wide variety of “the essentials” including: the Biblical basis, history, rationale, answering objections, benefits, challenges, etc.

A favorite quote from this resource…

Creating authentic, reconciled, multiracial communities in the midst of divisions is hard, complex work.  The barriers in a racialized society are many, and the degree of their entrenchment should never be underestimated.  Courageous and visionary leadership among both clergy and laity is essential and a necessary ingredient for success.  The journey requires a respect and appreciation for the cultures represented in the congregation in tandem with the willingness to travel into the unexplored territory of creating a new congregational culture.

Multiracial congregations require time, energy, and focus that coud be used elsewhere.  But neither the ease or difficulty of the task nor its simplicity or complexity are the issues on which to focus.  We are called as Christians to live, work, serve, and be together, forging community that can occur only with God’s help.  Just imagine for a moment what would happen in communities across the United States — and in the nation as a whole — if multiracial congregations began emerging in cities, suburbs, and small towns.  It is a compelling thought, a journey worth taking.  Humbly doing so is our witness to the world. (p.180)

Description of this book from the publisher’s website:


In the last four decades, desegregation has revolutionized almost every aspect of life in the United States: schools, businesses, government offices, even entertainment. But there is one area that remains largely untouched, and that is the church. Now comes a major new call for multiracial congregations in every possible setting–a call that is surprisingly controversial, even in the twenty-first century.

In United By Faith , a multiracial team of sociologists and a minister of the Church of God argue that multiracial Christian congregations offer a key to opening the still-locked door between the races in the United States. They note, however, that a belief persists–even in African-American and Latino churches–that racial segregation is an acceptable, even useful practice. The authors examine this question from biblical, historical, and theological perspectives to make their case. They explore the long history of interracialism in the church, with specific examples of multiracial congregations in the United States. They cite examples ranging from the abolitionist movement to an astonishing 1897 camp meeting in Alabama that brought together hundreds of whites and blacks literally into the same tent. Here, too, is a critical account of the theological arguments in favor of racial separation, as voiced in the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Native-American, and white contexts. The authors respond in detail, closing with a foundation for a theology suited to sustaining multiracial congregations over time.

Faith can be the basis for healing, but too often Christian faith has been a field for injury and division. In this important new book, readers will glimpse a way forward, a path toward once again making the church the basis for racial reconciliation in our still-splintered nation.


“Groundbreaking in establishing the moral and ethical basis for multiracial churches. It is truly prophetic in asserting that to be the church of Jesus Christ, the American church needs a multiracial movement.” –Religious Studies Review

“Their detailed and, indeed, loving work should spark useful conversations.”–Washington Post Book World

“An important book that guides believers toward a post-racial form of worshipping and living together. I look out to my multiracial congregation on Sunday mornings and see that it is beautiful, that it works, and that it is a paradigm for the society we must strive to build in the 21st Century. May this volume increase the places we discover that in Christ there is no East or West.”–The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister, Riverside Church, New York

“A beautifully explosive expose of the power of true Christianity to break down any and all barriers of segregation and usher in the new creation of the Spirit wherein no one will be excluded-a courageous, visionary and realistic blueprint for congregations of the 3rd millennium.”–Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, Mexican American Cultural Center, San Antonio, and University of Notre Dame

“Finally, we have a reasoned and hopeful response to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s oft-quoted indictment of Christianity in America, that ‘eleven o’clock is America’s most segregated hour’; a clear and powerful articulation of Jesus’ vision of the church as a ‘house of prayer for all nations,’ projecting a compelling vision for the North American church in the 21st century–racially inclusive, culturally diverse, fully invested in the principle and practice of Christian unity. Together with its companion volume, Divided by Faith, United by Faith demonstrates how Christians can enhance our witness to the world by rejecting racism and modeling reconciliation in our own congregations.” –Cheryl J. Sanders, Professor of Christian Ethics, Howard University School of Divinity, and Senior Pastor of the Third Street Church of God, Washington, D.C.

“A radical challenge to the traditional way of doing church. It is a must read for those who know that business as usual is no longer acceptable! It is a Kingdom call that will make some mad and others sad. You may not like or agree with everything in the book, but you will be blessed and stretched by one of the most important books of the 21st century. Read it! Talk about it! Share it with others and watch the walls of racial exclusion fall like the walls of Jericho.”–Dr. Frank M. Reid, III, Senior Pastor, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baltimore

“A timely, empowering, and hugely important book for the Church. It accurately details the cultural/ethnic shift in America that, like an avalanche cascading down a mountain, poses a threatening challenge for the church. Can people of diverse communities find spiritual and social fulfillment, a genuine experience of corporate belonging, and loving relationships in the same church? United by Faith shows that this is not only possible but that it was the norm in the early church. As we recognize God’s sovereign purposes behind these shifts and embrace them, we will be empowered to present to our fragmented society an amazing ‘family portrait’ of a loving and caring multi-cultural community of lovers of Jesus. The book’s theology is sound, its scholarship excellent, and most importantly, its applications possible!”–Richard Twiss, Enrolled Member, Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe; President, Wiconi International; and author of One Church Many Tribes

“This book was a huge gift to me. It filled in several more pieces to the puzzle we’ve been working on at Willow, as we move with great internationality toward becoming a multi-cultural, Acts 2 church.”–Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

Product Details

240 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-515215-9ISBN10: 0-19-515215-8

About the Author(s)

Curtiss Paul DeYoung is an Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel College, St. Paul, MN, and an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, IN).
Michael O. Emerson is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Rice University, and is the co-author of Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America .
George Yancey is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas.
Karen Chai Kim is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston.

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  • ynotwalk said:

    this is probably the best book I’ve read on building multiracial churches — they cover a lot of helpful material including the biblical foundation and answers to those who don’t think its worth the extra effort. good stuff.

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