A recent survey gave United Church people an opportunity to express their experiences and attitudes toward our intercultural commitment.
In keeping with the United Church’s commitment to becoming an intercultural church, a survey about intercutural ministries was just completed. The purposes of the survey were to give United Church people an opportunity to express their experiences and attitudes toward this commitment, as well as provide insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist as the church works toward implementing our intercultural vision.
Over 700 online surveys were completed and over 30 focus groups across the country participated in the survey. Thank you to all who participated!
Respondents included lay people from United Church faith communities and active ministry personnel. Respondents largely identified as female (66 per cent) and white (87 per cent), and worshipped primarily in English (96 per cent). Respondents were spread across the country, and Ontario yielded the greatest number of responses (53 per cent). (The results summarized here reflect only the findings of the online survey and do not include the information gathered in focus groups. Results from the focus groups will be released at a later date.)
Approximately 96 per cent of those who responded enthusiastically support the United Church’s intercultural commitment, and almost all respondents identified interculturalism as relevant to their communities of faith. The survey uncovered largely positive attitudes towards participating in the intercultural journey and an expressed openness to intercultural initiatives.
The survey was able to identify some areas where improvements could be made. Upon exploring the realm of personal perspectives and experiences, it was found that "lip service" is sometimes paid to the church's commitment to becoming intercultural. There are many who are still not comfortable with “difference"—21 per cent of respondents identified reluctance to change, traditionalism, and narrow-mindedness as barriers. The majority of respondents (52 per cent) agreed that systemic or hidden racism still exist within their faith communities. Feeling “safe” in the church is not always a given for marginalized people. Eighteen per cent of marginalized individuals felt that they were not taken seriously in group settings, while only four per cent of non-marginalized respondents reported these sentiments.
These insights are valuable to the church’s movement toward full participation and dialogue in living out our intercultural commitment. A steering group focused on the intercultural ministries evaluation process will be incorporating these findings into a future strategic plan.
A more detailed summary of survey findings can be found at Ways of Becoming an Intercultural Church (under Downloads).
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