CIU Celebrates Cultural Diversity in the Church

February 08, 2016

By Michael A. Lanier

CIU Student Writer

The students, faculty and staff of Columbia International University came together to celebrate diversity in the church in conjunction with Black History Month. Through a four-day series of chapel messages, the CIU family was able to rejoice in seeing God's plan for both diversity and unity in His church from the very beginning in the book of Acts. The speaker was Dr. Carl Ellis.

Ellis is on staff at the Center for Urban Theological Studies (C.U.T.S.) in Philadelphia, a faculty member at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas and associate pastor for Cultural Apologetics at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it!” said senior Chris Austin. “It was great to learn that while we are different, we are still one in Christ.”

Ellis outlined the beginnings of the early church, particularly how the church had to overcome cultural tensions in order to show that the gospel is meant for all people.

“Recognize that the word of God is not culture-bound,” Dr. Ellis stated in one of his messages. “God's lordship is in other places too.”

Ellis also pointed out that one's culture and heritage has nothing to do with Who he follows in his heart. His messages also showed that God is at work everywhere, for all people, and that the church should be full of both diversity and unity.

“The message that Dr. Ellis gave conveyed the idea that we as Christians are unified under Christ, even though we have different roles as part of the body,” freshman Daniel Wolff said.

Ellis brought all of his lessons together by saying that the church becomes stronger and more effective for Christ when there is a balance of cultural diversity and spiritual unity.

“I'm absolutely sure the gates of hell will not prevail against us,” Dr. Ellis said, speaking about the church being unified. “They'll give us a hard time, but so what? God's got our back.”

Ellis also encouraged students, faculty and staff to display this kind of unity among the people around them.

“It was a great week to emphasize unity within our school, regardless of our ethnic and cultural differences,” said sophomore Sam Norris.

Hear the chapel message delivered by Dr. Carl Ellis on CIU's podcast page: