At our church we are very passionate about diversity. We may not have a diverse family in our belief community, but we believe in having one. We are very quick to tell you we are very diverse, and just as quick to tell you that we are not as diverse as we would like to be. We know you are looking for a church with ethnic diversity, but if you happen to be white, don’t be afraid of tampering with our ethnic variety ratio by joining. We are neither Jew nor Greek, neither black nor white, neither Polynesian nor Cambodian, neither Serbian nor Turkish, neither Guatemalan nor New Guinean—but our home page photo sure is. You can’t find a more inclusive congregation than that. Even photo models who have never even heard of our church are members.
We love to use photos of diverse, happy herds of people, people gathered into tight groups on an invisible plane, surrounded by an endless sea of white background. Always a white void we contrast against, always white and pale. Anyway, we are desperate to appear to visitors and seekers as a colorful cast of differing faces all unified in racially diverse solidarity, and we will pay whatever price we can for those photos, even if none of us are in them. We will put those stock photos on our website, photos with a decent ratio of males to females, and a spectrum of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, and maybe even one Pacific Islander. Some churches hope that one day “Muslim” will be added to the wish list, while other churches hope that one day the distinctions between “Arab” and “Muslim” will be more widely known
Since our graphic designer has been looking for more ways to showcase his talents for God and save us money, we’ve opted for using one of our own congregational photos and photoshopping the heads of a couple Blacks, a Latino, and an Asian onto the bodies of Sister Guinn, Brother Powell, and Sister Clouse, respectively.
There’s money to be made in ambiguously-unified-crowd-of-diverse-and plucky-people photos. Rumor has it that a church in Wisconsin is willing to pay top dollar for a photo featuring an Afro-Sino-Canadian. They have been on the search ever since Sister Baxter discovered a disembodied African American head floating among the crowd of their last photo. Their web designer recently stepped down “due to personal illness.” Rumor has it another church saved both their money and their dignity when they hosted a racial sensitivity seminar and took a group photo with the featured speaker and several guest attendees. Unfortunately, visitors still sometimes ask, “Where’s Doctor Brown? I thought he went here.”
There is great hope for churches who yearn for a more heterogeneous racial demographic, even if they don’t have one yet. Somewhere in deep rural Alabama, a congregation with a membership of 520 is combing through old scrapbooks for a photo of a smiling black person.