Interpreter asked several people, who work daily toward racial and ethnic understanding, how people can live together well, whether because of or despite the various divides. The following is what Wisconsin Director of Connectional Ministries Samuel Royappa and Bishop Linda Lee shared.

Throughout his career, Rev. Samuel Royappa has worked with diverse populations – age, gender, ethnicity, lay and clergy, rural and urban. He sees these differences as great strengths for The United Methodist Church. "I believe God has gifted the world with families, communities, cultures and races as a blessing, and also to be a blessing. God is glorified and magnified when diverse people come together, work together, worship together and serve together," he said. Referencing John 3:16, he said, "The most powerful word is ‘world.' Developing multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial ministries across the denomination is the key for planting the seed called ‘living together well.'" Suggesting some specific actions, he named, "invoking the power of prayer, having a constant vision for a global Church, empowering passionate leaders, having an attitude of service and embracing value-based contextualized ministries." He also suggested valuable building blocks for living well together including "grace, forgiveness, healing, gifts of all people, love and hope."

For retired Bishop Linda Lee, reading and learning are central to living well in a diverse society. She suggests people read a history of a culture written by a member of that culture. Lee served as editor of A New Dawn in Beloved Community (Abingdon Press, 2013). Through personal essays, writers tell stories from their own cultures and experiences. Lee explained, “Sometimes people of color don't know about their own culture, much less that of other cultures, even within their own race." She said she believes the most important work is to understand how embedded the idea of white supremacy is in Western culture and to take steps to unlearn it, adding, this is true not only for whites, but also for people of color. Lee reiterated the importance of people knowing their own cultural history, the accomplishments and contributions. "We tend to internalize racism," Lee said. "We might learn to think we are inferior and not capable. We must know the truth: We are all made in the image of God. No one is more or less valuable because of how we look on the outside. We are all capable of so much."

Read full Interpreter article here.