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Front-page story in Nashville newspaper highlights racially diverse Church of Christ

In a front-page story in today’s Nashville Tennessean, religion writer Bob Smietana highlights the racial diversity of the Rural Hill Church of Christ:

Lena Hampton felt at home from the first time she walked into Rural Hill Church of Christ in Antioch in 1975.
It didn’t matter that she was the sole African-American in the congregation of about 200. The people were friendly and loved God, and that was good enough for her.
“I’ve been to churches where they didn’t even talk to you,” Hampton said. “You can’t find people kinder than at Rural Hill. I would not go anywhere else.”
Hampton joined the church and invited some friends and family to come with her. They invited some friends as well, and today Rural Hill is one of the most diverse congregations in Nashville. It’s one of a small but growing number of churches in the country where Sunday morning is no longer the most segregated hour of the week.

Smietana describes Sundays at Rural Hill as “very traditional, with a capella hymns like ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus,’ a straightforward Bible sermon with few jokes or anecdotes, followed by prayers and communion.”
Read the full story. 
See a 2008 Christian Chronicle package of stories on racially diverse churches.

  • Feedback
    Praise God for diversity. If people from different cultures, races and backgrounds can’t come together at church there is little hope they will come together at all.
    Tim Tripp
    July, 25 2012

    Our congregation in Raleigh, NC “The Triangle” is one of the most diverse I have ever attended – we have members Albania, Czech Republic, El Salvador, India, Malawi, Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela. Its great to be a diverse congregation & learn from each others culture!
    Dennis Billingsley
    July, 25 2012

    In this divisive world, I am always encouraged to see churches exemplifying the fact that Jesus Christ died for all of us.
    Helene Smith
    July, 26 2012

    I would not be a member of a congregation where someone was not welcome, as a member or visitor, because of race. I am sure Jesus wouldn’t either. It concerns me that diversity at Rural Hill is newsworthy. It should be the way things are everywhere.
    Dennis Cady
    July, 26 2012

    I think racially diverse congregations are much more common than they once were. Univeristy at Montgomery AL has 15 to 20 black families with one deacon and one staff member who are black. Most of the chuches I vist have at least one, usually more, black families.
    Cecil May Jr
    July, 26 2012

    Here is a suggestion for elders who might be concerned about the prejudiced attitudes of some members: Insist that the preacher preach about the ethnic diversity of the very first congregation in Acts 2, this model church.
    Also, here is something easy to do to increase fellowship and understanding: Have a Sunday night service (once a year) where white and black congregations come together in one place for worship. Let the black congregations select the speaker (who could be either white or black) and let him address these issues openly and biblically. Have a fellowship dinner after the service to encourage personal interaction.
    There are some congregations that do this. Perhaps the CC could write a feature article about the benefits and blessing of such a simple spiritual activity.
    Harold Williams
    July, 31 2012

    It’s encouraging that sister Hampton felt the Lord’s love from others when she first visited Rural Hill.
    It’s also encouraging that Paul desired ALL of the Corinthians to speak for God, one by one(1 Cor.14:31), even though he knew they were a four-party church(1:12). Considering 1 Cor.11:5, we conclude that
    the sisters as well as the brothers, spoke for the Lord, and to the Lord. Speaking our faith clarifies and matures it, Eph. 4:15-16.
    “Unless we share our thoughts, attitudes, and feelings, we are not sharing our selves, since it is the contents of our minds that define us as unique persons.”-Clinton McLemore, Honest Christianity, c.1984
    Wayne McDaniel
    July, 31 2012

    We at Mountain Island Church of Christ in Charlotte, NC are a congregation of about 170, almost 50/50 White and African Americans, besides a Spanish congregation that meets at the same time. Once a quarter we have a bi-lingual service on Sunday morning. We are a loving, open group of Christians striving to live as Christ would have us live. In the congregation in New Jersey where my husband preached for 12 years, they now have two African American elders. I grew up in segregated Texas, and it has been a joy to be with Christians who do not look at the color of the skin, nor the clothes that are worn, but welcome all who wish to worship and serve our Lord and Savior as the Bible teaches.
    July, 31 2012

    The Church of Christ in Jersey Village (Houston), TX is very diverse. We have 1 black elder and 2 black deacons. That elder can really preach too, and is a very popular Bible class teacher. One black deacon recently moved to Atlanta and he was perhaps the most sought after Bible class teacher we had. He would insist if you said something that you back it up w/the Bible verse. He is a great teacher. We have about 23 black families, and they are great families, very spiritual minded people. I sit on a row with some new black members, and they are wonderful people. I have a hard time understanding why people have prejudice feelings toward other races. They are just people, and when they are my brother or sister, there is that precious bond. Our elders are looking to start a Spanish ministry so we are going to be very diverse before long.
    Lawana Perrault
    July, 31 2012

    I am all for diversity in the church, and I agree that after all these years it should be already be a non-issue–after all, we do claim to be Christians! However, I have noticed that it SEEMS that whenever there is an attempt at integration, it is by the black Christians going to and placing membership at the white congregations. Rarely, well, almost never have I seen white Christians going out of their way to integrate by becoming members of black churches. Just my observation.
    July, 31 2012

    Matthew 28th Chapter, verses 16 through 18 answers this diversity question for you. Rather clear and concise to say the least.
    Gerri Means
    July, 31 2012

    Also wanted to ask how many white members who are part of a church which calls itself diverse and who are so kind to their black members have had any of their black members over for dinner or for other one-on-one personal interactions. These type of invitations are the true tests of how you really feel about diversity. Sitting on the same pew and saying hi and bye in church is one thing; having someone of color in your home or your personal space is quite another.
    August, 1 2012

    Wow! What a great testimony to the world! I praise God for this Church. God is not ashamed to be called their God.
    Charles Ngoje
    August, 2 2012

    It is nice to see that Rural Hills COC is not the only congregation that renders love and acceptance. I have visited many, and a member of one of those. It’s too bad we have to even pay attention to that sort of thing.
    Gerri Means
    August, 7 2012

    To become a multi-cultural or multi-racial church requires intentionality. Rarely does it “just happen.” Clear and intentional choices have to be made by leadership and carried out by the entire church.
    August, 8 2012

    My family has worshipped at Rural Hill for over 12 years. We are blessed to be in a diverse congregation where our children have been able to grow up with friends of different backgrounds- they do not see color. If any of you ever have the opportunity to visit, we would love to have you worship with us.
    You can see more about us on our FaceBook Page and also here is a link to our 2012 Camp Video that is a window into our love for each other.
    Gwen Baker
    September, 13 2012

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