A good question: What’s so important about diversity?
One question, five answers
‘It’s a huge gift from God’
I believe God created the diversity that I see in the people around me – and I also believe that it’s a huge gift to be treasured.
Our URC equalities policy starts by saying that we believe all people are created in God’s image, and loved by God. For me, it follows that if we are to draw closer to God, we need to be aware of, and open to, all the wonderful diversity of people created in God’s image – which means every single unique individual – or we are missing part of the picture, and doing so deliberately. It’s like a huge stained-glass window of many parts. Every piece, every colour and shape, is needed to create the whole window and no tiny piece of glass can be lost without diminishing the whole. Then God’s sunlight shines through and brings the picture stunningly to life!…
Anne Lewitt steps down from the role of Convenor of the United Reformed Church’s equalities committee at this year’s General Assembly
‘I have been taught so much’
Diversity, or difference, is increasingly being understood in ever wider ways, embracing the differently abled, physical or mental health, gender, ethnicity, different ages, sexuality and so on.
It seems Jesus went to visit all the ‘wrong’ people. He enjoyed himself at social gatherings such as weddings. He was always helping people ‘on the edge’, challenging taboos and breaking through barriers. The story of the Samaritan woman by the well, and many others, shows that Jesus appreciates diversity and bringing the best out of everyone…
Francis Ackroyd is a retired minister who has served the United Reformed Church in Tottenham and east London for more than 50 years
‘We are created by God to be different’
The number of people in the world today is about to reach the milestone of eight billion. Yet no two people are the same. Even identical twins, who share the same DNA, are different people with different personalities – and also different fingerprints. We are therefore created by God to be different, distinctive, unique, diverse. Yet our natural tendency is to ring fence our lives into different categories, be it by race, ethnicity, culture, disability, sexuality, gender or gender identity…
Jayne Taylor is a member of the URC’s equalities committee and is based in the Cotswolds
‘Differences can divide us; diversity unites us’
Maybe it’s because I’m writing this just after Trinity Sunday, so the reality of our diverse God is particularly fresh in my mind, but isn’t this question a bit like saying: What’s so important about God? Not only do we worship one God in three forms but God created and continues to create such a wide (dare I say diverse?) range of life. If we take ‘diversity’ at its face-value sense of denoting variety, God’s very nature makes diversity crucial to knowing or even trying to know God. But for many, I suspect it’s not that simple.
For some, ‘diversity’ is synonymous with championing minority rights. Minorities are important to God, and should therefore be important to God’s followers. As a minority myself, those rights are certainly important to me…
Charissa King (@cktypes) is a magazine editor and Christian writer
‘Humanity has the capability to achieve great things’
We are each individual and unique and yet share some commonality with subsets of other individuals. Also, it seems we are designed to be in fellowship with others, in spite of our differences. One of the lectionary readings as I was thinking about recently was the story in Genesis of the Tower of Babel, where God is reputed to have noted that the people were able to achieve whatever they determined to do because they were able to understand one another and come to a common mind. So God muddled up their communication and scattered them around the world.
That somewhat challenging passage suggests to me that humanity does have the capability to achieve great things but our diversity is something we have to accept and manage in order to do so….
Sheila Coop is a United Reformed Church minister in Oldham and Secretary of GEAR
This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2022 edition of Reform