The American Church: A Call To Unity and Witness

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It is commonly thought that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. Race in America is a vitally important issue and is equally significant within the inner systems of American churches. This project considers what motivations can be embraced to move homogeneous churches toward racial diversity and specifically whether the prayer for unity in the body of Christ that Jesus prayed in John seventeen is compelling enough to initiate a transition from homogeneity to multiracial. This thesis addresses the questions: What societal barriers exist that prevent or inhibit racial diversity within the majority of American churches? Can we identify societal mandates with theological underpinnings that are adequate to overcome these barriers? What practical approaches can congregational leaders implement to create and sustain an intercultural, multiracial church? So, this project is both an expedition for understanding and a search for strategies that will give the most promising opportunity to produce a healthy multiracial local church. The research is primarily a literature review and will include existing literature regarding historical race relations, sociological implications of race, and segregation in American churches as well as personal experiences pastoring a multicultural church. Documented interviews and discussions from notable individuals about race, white privilege, and discrimination within the American church structures will be included in the inquiry. Ultimately, this thesis provides pastors, leaders, church planters, or leadership teams the tools necessary to navigate the challenges of forming a racially diverse church, understand the complexity of race relations in America, identify the needed motivation to persevere through the process of transforming a homogeneous church into a multicultural one, and acquire reliable action steps that if taken, will increase the likelihood of success. This project presents Jesus’ prayer for unity in John seventeen as a call to action and the research both affirms its validity and offers steps toward its fulfillment.





O'Neal, William Keith (2020). The American Church: A Call To Unity and Witness. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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