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Diversity in Church 

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To the editors:

I read with interest the article "Superchurch" [August 7] and found the viewpoint of a secular observer insightful. Not only as regards his perspectives on Willow Creek, but how his own prejudices come forth through his writing. As an evangelical Christian, I have been familiar with Willow Creek for a number of years and would have my own set of compliments and criticisms. There are a number of points on which I could critique Mr. McClory's article, but there is one in particular that I think needs to be challenged.

He would bring the ministry of Willow Creek into question as there are "few Asians and practically no blacks or Hispanics. And certainly no raggedy types--no homeless, no drifters, and no psychos, for God's sake." Would the same criticism be made of a prominent black or Hispanic church if he found no whites or "raggedy types"?

I have been spending the past several weeks visiting a variety of churches in Chicago and have visited Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, Polish Roman Catholic, German Lutheran, and Swedish Free, among others. What has been clear is that the church, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant is a reflection of its community and seeks to meet the needs of that community, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical. Would one expect to find the "raggedy types" in South Barrington? I doubt it. If Willow Creek is to be judged, it should be in light of the biblical injunction to "remember the poor" (Gal. 2:10) from the context of being "a slice of white, middle-class suburbia." And yet, Mr. McClory notes that there is an active Benevolence Board, a well-stocked food pantry, a counseling center that deals with a number of "city type" problems such as teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse. Providing a car to a poor suburbanite is certainly a necessary prerequisite to obtaining and holding most suburban jobs. Perhaps the poor are not as obvious in the suburbs since they are white.

In order to provide a more balanced perspective of the Christian church, I would suggest that as a continuation from this article Mr. McClory take time to visit such churches as Uptown Baptist, First Evangelical Free, Faith Tabernacle, or Rock of Our Salvation Evangelical Free Church. Just this morning I visited Uptown Baptist. Here you will find a church ministering to blacks and Hispanics as well as a variety of other ethnic groups, a church dealing with the problems of poor senior citizens, a church attempting to help the institutionalized and homeless, in short, a church that is part of a hurting community. Each of these churches is a reflection of their respective communities, which in fact, are multiethnic, diverse, and who proclaim the same Gospel as Willow Creek.

Mr. McClory sees the Gospel as a "hard message" and yet, he recounts the transformational effect that this message has had on a variety of people. Being secularized, there is a high degree of skepticism in his article, but nevertheless he has to admit that "this place also has reverberations of something more permanent, maybe even eternal." Here he is absolutely correct, there is something permanent and eternal, the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have found diversity, variety, and deeply committed Christians in Chicago's churches. Certainly faith is of significance to a large number of people and continuing coverage might be warranted.

James Stuart

W. Addison

PS: I am with a minority owned company and count as my partners African Americans, Hispanic Americans, disabled, and women and continue to be surprised by the subtle racism that still exists.

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