Transitioning the Waldorf Seventh-Day Adventist Church to an Integrated Multiethnic/Multicultural Ministry
Charles County, Maryland, is an ethnically and culturally diverse community. The only two Seventh-day Adventist churches in the county are mono-ethnic – one White and one African-American – and do not reflect the multiethnic composition of the community. In the beginning of this study the Waldorf Church had the following ethnic composition: 81% White and 19% of all other major ethnic groups. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2008), Waldorf city was made up of 40.6% White and 59.4% of all other groups combined. In light of this reality, being a monoethnic White church presented significant church growth challenges in this extremely multiethnic/multicultural community.
The methodology of this project was to design and implement a strategy that would help the Waldorf SDA Church to effectively adapt to, connect with, and evangelize the multiethnic/multicultural population of Waldorf. The strategy aimed (a) to transition the church from monoethnic to multiethnic, (b) foster church growth, and (c) to build up a multiethnic church that was integrated whereby the church will be attractive, inclusive, and responsive to people of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds. This was accomplished by six strategic steps: (a) Sermon Series, (b) Integrated Small Group Ministries, (c) Community Service, (d) Diverse Leaders, (e) A Second Worship Service, and (f) A Church Plant. Furthermore, surveys were conducted to measure the degree of ethnicity in the congregation at multiple times during the project. Also worship attendance was taken every Sabbath for the entire duration of the project providing data for church growth analyses.
The results were positive and encouraging. The church transitioned from a single ethnic majority of 81% to a diverse church with no ethnic group representing 50% or more of the worship attendance. Also, there was impressive and unprecedented church growth. During the time of the project the church experienced a 65.5% growth in attendance. These first two objectives, ethnic transition and numeric growth, were accomplished successfully. The third objective – integration – however, was achieved for a while but not throughout the entire project. More work needs to be done in this area.
Transitioning the Waldorf Church from a monoethnic to a multiethnic congregation in order to reflect the tremendous diversity of the city of Waldorf proved to be a true blessing to the church. The transition brought a new ethnic and cultural identity that better reflected the local community. Also, the project facilitated unprecedented numeric growth, which helped the church to move from stagnation to a vibrant diverse group of members. As a result, physical expansion was needed and a new church building has been built to better accommodate worshipers.