Project Documents

Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Alanzo Smith

Second Advisor

Mario Ceballos

Third Advisor

Boubakar Sanou

Abstract

Problem. Cultural diversity in the Greater New York Conference has created frequent conflicts among pastors and workers. Examples of the types of circumstances engendering conflict may be seen in the following: (a) Lack of cross-cultural evangelism. An outstanding evangelist of one ethnic group does not have the opportunity to do evangelism with another ethnic group. (b) Lack of adequate representation for all ethnic groups. In choosing speakers for camp meeting, seminar presenters for workers’ meetings, or job placements, there is sometimes inadequate representation of all the ethnic groups which may cause disharmony and disunity among the workers and members. (c) Lack of social and cultural programs among pastors of different ethnic groups. Pastors generally meet at workers’ meetings and joint camp meetings, but during this time, interaction between pastors of various groups is minimal. (d) Lack of pulpit exchange preaching. Pastors preach within their own ethnic group, but only on rare occasions will someone cross into another sector to preach. (e) Lack of evangelism funds for areas of greatest need. Evangelism funds are distributed proportionately to the ethnic groups. This distribution plan fails to provide sufficient funds for areas of greatest need. Examples of conflict (c) and (d) will be the focus of this project because the other three examples are beyond the jurisdiction of the local pastor.

Method. A selection of pastors (N=7) from the conference formed a core group of participants who took part in an experimental model of cultural integration to gather information for cultural diversity resolution. Through a string of six social monthly gatherings and a pulpit exchange preaching assignment at the Crossroads SDA Church, the participants interacted with each other and the church members, and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity. Themes were drawn from the pastors’ journal reflections to explore the effect of the experiment on cultural diversity conflict among the pastors in the conference.

Results. Five of the seven pastors completed all the required activities of the project, while the other two fulfilled 80%. An average of more than 85% completion suggested a high level of interest among the pastors in cultural diversity. However, one out of the five major groups was not represented in the sample of individuals that may have biased the findings. Nevertheless, from the data collected, it is evident that the pastors benefitted from the study. The study also provided suggestions that can nurture stronger and broader intercultural relationships.

Conclusions. Notwithstanding the limitations and apparent biases inherent in this study, promoting cross-cultural engagement among the pastors in the Greater New York Conference demonstrated a spirit of togetherness that can reduce cultural diversity conflict. The practical lessons gained by the participants and the researcher of this study authenticate the fact that this project needs further reflection and implementation with an inclusive sample of the pastoral sectors. In addition, the social gatherings should be more frequent in order to deepen impression, and increase the possibility for pastoral diversity togetherness. Reducing cultural diversity conflict among pastors in the conference demands relentless effort and time in order for the pastors to make adjustments in their perceptions and behaviors to have cultural flexibility. Consequently, the intervention described in this study can serve as an encouragement to the pastors, assuring them that they have additional resources to assist them in their quest for pastoral unicity.

Subject Area

Church work--Seventh-day Adventists, Cross-cultural studies, Intercultural communication--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists, Cross cultural studies--New York (State), Multiculturalism--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists.

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