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The real value of diversity in the church

Updated: Oct 20, 2023


Unsplash photo illustration by Clay Banks


By Dr. Bascom Ratliff

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches


The Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church recently held its annual conference. The big issue discussed at the conference was the “disaffiliation of Methodist churches who opposed leadership roles for lesbian, gay, and transsexual persons. Another topic, near to my heart, was presented at the conference calling for more diverse, inclusive, and equality in its membership and leadership.


The end result was an affirmation by the United Methodist Church to work toward a more inclusive and tolerant policy serving the will of Christ. The United Methodists strongly affirmed their policy of welcoming everyone that accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


Everyone in the church is considered equal and are deemed worthy of God’s grace and love.

For the past two years, I have been a member of the a task force whose purpose was to address the issues of diversity, equality, and inclusivity in the Methodist church. During my work on this committee I had the opportunity to meet a number of committed Christians with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds who had strong leadership roles in the United Methodist Church. Many of the leaders on this task force were women. I found them to be hard-working and committed Christians whose primary purpose was serving in active and living Christ.

After serving two years on this diverse task force, it is incredibly difficult for me to understand and accept the devaluing of women in the greater Christian community. When we tell a woman that she cannot be a pastor or a bishop or a leader in the Christian church, we send a loud and clear message that her value is less than that of a man and they can only serve God as subordinates to men.


I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I also believe that we should read and interpret the Bible with an open and common sense mind. For example, when reading about Paul's ministry to the Gentiles, I found that Paul partnered with a number of women in his ministry. He considers these women partners and apostles. He specifically refers to Junia as an apostle (Romans 16:7) and Phoebe as a deacon (Romans 6: 1-2). Clearly, these women were leaders in early Christianity.


I firmly believe that God calls all of us as leaders and servants. Rather than exclude those who are different, we must seek ways to include them in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. The only requirement for membership in God's family is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It seems simple enough. Loving God and loving others. Accepting Jesus. Maybe the challenge for us is to stop complicating things with rules and regulations that diminish faith. After all, Paul clearly states in Romans that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus and not by adherence to the law. When we become servants of the law and rules that exclude and minimize others, we miss the message of Jesus.


Service First.

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If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, please come and worship with us.

We will worship at the Fontana United Methodist Church (UMC) during June 2023.

We will worship at the Parker UMC during July 2023.

We will worship at the Beagle UMC during August 2023.

All services are at 10 a.m.

We serve communion on the first Sunday of each month. All are welcome.

Dr. Bascom Ratliff (913-710-5748)

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches

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