Multi-cultural corps: forecasting the future
by By Claude Nikondeha –
Corps of the future will be multicultural. So far, we have “done corps” in boxes that are too small to contain all the colors of the rainbow. These individual boxes have only been large enough to contain one color at a time.
In order to include all the colors of the rainbow, we need to modify the size and shape of our corps-boxes. If we are to open our arms to embrace the kind of cultural and ethnic diversity that we see in this territory, if we are to respect the other to the point of abandoning the language of “we and they” to become the language of “us,” if we are to allow ourselves to be transformed by a new reality of togetherness and solidarity— then we need to envision a new way of “doing corps.”
There are two steps that need to be taken now. One is to be intentional. Given the current circumstances, the multicultural corps will not just happen. We need to go out to where people are and make it known to them that our corps are safe places where they can find and worship God.
Also a corps is not multicultural just because a few people of different ethnic background sit in the pews. Being intentional about multiculturalism is to incorporate people from different cultures into leadership.
The second step we need to take is that of relinquishing power. We tend to believe that the only acceptable way of “doing corps” is our way, “the Army way as I grew up experiencing it.” Acting on that belief is how we dismiss others and their understanding of worship, fellowship, education, service and business.
Those who belong to the dominant culture need to let go of power by letting go of their hold on a particular view of “doing corps.” Those who belong to underrepresented and often suppressed groups need to assume responsibility for their own view of the corps.
God’s eternal purpose for creation is to make a multicultural community. Our corps are called to live out that reality. There are issues of power and segregation that raise up strong barriers, which make that reality almost impossible. Even ethnic minorities are reluctant to engage in what promises to be a painful journey.
We all need to sacrifice something. For some, it will be their power and control; others their safety and comfort. But I am convinced that the future of our corps in this territory will be found in coming together at the table of the Lord, in lifting every voice and every language in praise and in holding hands with brothers and sisters of every color and tongue. And we all will be better because of that!