By Dudley Rutherford
The idea for Dream of Destiny came to me in the summer of 2007 after I downloaded a photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking to the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Attended by some 250,000 people on August 28, 1963, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage.
I made this iconic photo my computer’s screensaver and noticed something I had not been aware of previously. I noticed there were many Caucasians in the audience that day marching in support of equality for all people of color.
This led me to read—word for word—the poetic and powerful speech King delivered that day. To my surprise, in the middle of the speech, King addressed the Caucasian people intermingled throughout the gathering at the National Mall. He said, “For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
Although this speech is called the “I Have a Dream” speech, from that time on I began calling it the “We Have a Dream” speech because we are in this fight together.
I soon began to notice that our North American Christian Conventions and our North American Christian churches were primarily an “all-white” body, failing to reach and include people of color in our churches, colleges, and organizations. Yes, there are a few rare exceptions, but primarily we are one of the least racially diverse entities in America.
The Burden of My Heart
It became the burden of my heart to help lead the charge to correct this glaring blind spot. For although I do not believe my fellow pastors and members of their congregations are racist or bigoted, we are guilty of not being intentional in including and reaching people of all ethnicities.
Thus we founded an organization called Dream of Destiny in which we lead, teach, and mentor pastors, churches, colleges, universities, ministry leaders, and laymen to be more intentional in fostering diversity and inclusion in their particular ministry. We ask these entities to look at their staff, leadership teams, and boards and to strive for the racial diversity we see in Revelation 7:9, 10:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Initially, with the help of Byron Davis—and currently with the help of Travis Hurley, vice president of development and diversity at Ozark Christian College—we have focused on several major areas:
• Starting and leading a Dream of Destiny breakfast each year at the North American Christian Convention, which is perhaps the largest gathering of pastors and Bible college/university presidents from around the country meeting annually. This yearly breakfast is an encouragement to keep the dream alive in our churches and organizations.
We have had tremendous breakthroughs in seeing leaders attending and returning to their sphere of influence to help transform the look and flavor of their boards, churches, ministries, and universities. While the convention itself still struggles to find footing, this breakfast serves as a constant reminder that we are at least headed in the right direction.
• Providing practical steps and ideas to incorporate racial diversity on the most basic of levels. Currently on the Dream of Destiny website (www.dreamofdestiny.com), there is a list of 15 specific steps that almost any organization can adopt to be proactive in this important cause of creating unity and diversity.
We would love to see you apply some of these steps to your organization. This is not a comprehensive list, but it will help point you in the right direction in becoming more intentional. Please feel free to suggest additional steps.
• Creating a blog for articles and posts that encourage keeping this topic front and center (www.dreamofdestiny.com/blog). Would you consider reading through these blog posts as well as writing your own post on breaking down the walls that so easily divide? Feel free to browse or write your own thought-provoking article to keep the dream alive.
• For the first time ever, on February 22 to 24—in conjunction with the Ozark Christian College Preaching-Teaching Convention—we hosted a Race and Restoration Summit where we addressed theology, history, philosophy, and ministry from a biblical view of reaching “all nations and all people groups.” We wanted to address where we’ve been and, more important, where we need to go and how to get there. All sessions were recorded and will be available via www.dreamofdestiny.com/blog.
• One last positive step is the creation and implementation of “Matching Internships Grants.” A limited number of these grants are offered to ministry students of color who apply to serve a paid summer internship at an agreed upon church in the Restoration Movement. Upon completion of the internship, Dream of Destiny awards a grant of $1,000 for the student’s fall tuition. For more detailed information, you can download the brochure here: http://dreamofdestiny.com/content/uploads/2015/06/Brochure_Dream-of-Destiny.pdf.
We are highly encouraged by the progress we’ve made. Is it slow? Yes, a thousand times, yes. Are we satisfied with where we are? NO! A thousand times, no! But we are committed to the cause—to making the dream King envisioned a reality for our churches—and more importantly to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior.
Dudley Rutherford serves as senior pastor with Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, California.