Fortune magazine states that “diverse groups make better decisions. If everyone in the room is the same you’ll have fewer arguments and worse answers. Diversity is a distinct competitive advantage.”

One of the few things I dislike about a New Year is filing parochial reports. Each year our synod office asks that each congregation submit data regarding offerings, mission work, membership, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, etc. The synod uses this information to compile a profile of who the ELCA is, and how we are doing as a national church body.

It has always troubled me, that in all my 30 years of ministry, I rarely checked anything but “white” under the category of “race”. But this year, in a remarkable turn of events, our congregational report will reflect families of Hispanic and Asian decent among us. I first noticed this change in the confirmation class. Several of our students are bi-lingual (English and Spanish), and one, tri-lingual (Spanish, English, French). This is not only a remarkable change from the past, but a very promising one. And I want to report to you that it is not just the barriers of ethnicity that are breaking down, but also religious boundaries. In our Wednesday evening Bible study we now have three Roman Catholics from the larger faith community studying with us. I will baptize two adult males (one of whom was raised Jewish) this month (very rare), and 3 other unchurched children who have been drawn to St. Mark’s from our neighborhoods.

A visiting pastor from the Assemblies of God noticed this spirit of welcome. She told me following a funeral here that she sensed a “spirit of love and acceptance in our sanctuary” that comforted her. High praise from someone who was here but a couple of hours!

“Diverse groups don’t only make better decisions”, but they better reflect the Body of Christ on earth and become one of our greatest strengths.

Thank you to all of you who are welcoming a diverse group of people among us…your Spirit—the Spirit of Go—is clearly changing us for good!

Blessed New Year!