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As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a new group is breaking the racial divide often seen on Sunday mornings—evangelical megachurches. According to a Time magazine report about 25 percent of churches with at least 1,000 members have more than 20 percent minority congregants. This is compared to only 7.5 percent of churches smaller than 1,000 congregants that claim to have more than 20 percent minorities.

Joel Osteen's 43,500-member Lakewood Church in Houston is evenly divided among blacks, Hispanics and a group including whites and Asians. Bill Hybels' 23,400-person Willow Creek Church in Chicago has 20 percent minorities.

David Campbell, a political scientist at Notre Dame who is studying this trend, says "if tens of millions of Americans start sharing faith across racial boundaries, it could be one of the final steps transcending race as our great divider."

Hybels has said he has been intentional about integrating his once all-white congregation. Willow Creek has added a variety of musical styles to their worship experience, a bilingual service and a small-group study about race to their church agenda. Hybels says it wasn't until he read Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America that he realized that having segregated churches violated Scripture. "I went from thinking I don't have a race problem to There is a huge problem in our world that I need to be part of resolving," Hybels said. [time.com, 1/11/10]

 

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