This article in last week’s New York Times is a good topic for discussion.
It shows the head shots of 922 of the most powerful people in the United States – the police chiefs, judges, military leaders, business executives, university presidents, news media executives, book and magazine publishers, music producers, studio heads, fashion executives, and professional sports team owners. You can see on the image here that the ones highlighted in yellow are People of Color. The rest are White.
This is not surprising.
When I hear White People say that “the Blacks” or “the Asians” or “the Hispanics” or whatever are “taking over” I assume they are afraid of losing their privilege in the world. But representation matters and we can do better in terms of including leaders who come with different life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. And several studies show that diversity is good for business. This is old news.
We in the Church are barely scratching the service in terms of being inclusive. Congregations seeking new pastors like the idea of calling a person who is not from the dominant culture of that church. But there is a great deal of work to do before that can happen in a healthy way.
For fun, I wrote down the people I consider to be the most powerful in my own denomination. Some of them hold high offices and titles. Some are behind-the-scenes leaders. Some are the go-to people for conferences and workshops on everything from anti-racism training to church vitality events.
I am not going to name them. You can come up with your own list. But I was encouraged by mine. Among those I personally consider the Faces of Power in my corner of the Church of Jesus Christ are:
- 7 White Males
- 7 Black Females
- 5 Black Males
- 5 White Females
- 3 Latin Females
- 1 Native Female
- 1 Asian Female
- 1 Asian Male*
They range in ages from their 30s to their 60s. They lead from pulpits and board rooms. Their platforms all involve making the world better by making the Church better.
I’m encouraged by the diversity of these faces and yet I recognize that my choices may not be yours. (Most of mine could also be called Most Likely To Get Into Good Trouble.)
And while The Church of Jesus Christ is remarkably imperfect, we are slowly, slowly moving toward being the rainbow God created us to be. It’s painful – especially for the prophets on my list who get roughed up out there. But – unlike the 922 pictured above – my list is trying to shift the culture for the sake of Jesus.
Shifting the culture for the sake of Jesus is what all of us are called to do.
*Although you don’t know who you are, my apologies for not categorizing some of you in the fullness of who you are.