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28 February 2018

Unity in diversity

Unity in diversity

The Evangelical Alliance’s Alexandra Davis on how the One People Commission is working towards unity in the Church.

We have all heard the stories of division and partisanship in our culture at present. We hear them in the news, in our neighbourhoods, even in our churches. We know the division that exists in our own hearts - the division between what we want to do and what we actually do. The Church in the UK has to ask itself: “Will we follow society and slip into division? Or will we seek out the counter-cultural unity that the family of Christ is called to?” 

For the last seven years, the Evangelical Alliance has been facing the challenge of racial division head on, through the One People Commission (OPC). This is a gathering of leaders from across the different cultural and ethnic expressions of the evangelical Church in the UK. It was established in response to a challenge by key black church leaders to the Evangelical Alliance council in 2011, that if we are truly committed to racial and cultural unity in the Church, more effort needed to be made. 

Pastor Chrishanthy Sathiyaraj, leader of a Sri Lankan church community in Southall and one of the first church leaders to join the OPC, shared a vision of the Church at the Movement Day in October 2017. She saw it as a series of islands, all with our different colours, races, cultures, experiences, expectations, all knowing we need to get to the mainland, the place of unity. Each of us in our different expressions of Church are little islands, doing our bit for God’s kingdom; but each of us is also trying to reach the mainland: true unity within all God’s people.

Chrishanthy describes the OPC as a kind of bridge, helping us reach from our own islands, giving us a path to tread, a journey to go on, to reach the mainland and join with our brothers and sisters in Christian unity. To this end, we joined together in prayer last December at the annual OPC gathering. Brothers and sisters from across the ethnic expressions of the UK Church gathered to plan, prepare and pray for more unity in the Church. Leaders from Latin American, South Asian, white British, Caribbean, Arabic, Korean and African church communities who are rooted in the UK were there as a demonstration of the unity of the body of Christ. 

The OPC is part of a process of intentionally growing relationships, choosing to put aside differences, and humbly committing to learning from one another in order to achieve the greater goal of Christian unity. How are you crossing divisions in your local faith community? Do you need to intentionally choose to cross divides? Why not visit other church gatherings to receive and be encouraged? How could you start to have the honest conversations about why the church is divided and how we might need to change? 

For more information about the One People Commission, see eauk.org/onepeople

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