Our differences are our greatest blessings and our greatest challenges, maintains William Kondrath, Episcopal priest and seminary professor. Theologically and ecologically, differences foster life and growth, but discord within denominations and congregations frequently have to do with the inability of individual and groups to deeply understand and value differences.
Even in congregations that may on the surface appear to be homogenous, a multitude of differences exist. In God's Tapestry, Kondrath shows us how to embrace our true multiculturalism---our differences of race, gender, age, theology, language, sexual identity, and so forth. He does this by exploring differences on four levels---personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural . He also demonstrates a threefold process for becoming multicultural: recognizing our differences; understanding those differences and their significance and consequences; and valuing a celebrating those differences.
While ministry is the work of the faith community, not only ordained or professional staff, it is critical that leaders learn the art and skill of recognizing, understanding, and valuing differences. Then the congregations and agencies they serve, having learned and practiced the art and skill of celebrating differences, can be the year that raises this awareness of God's diverse blessings in the wider world.