Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Gibson, Sephen


The goal of this thesis project was to develop an intentional plan to embrace and celebrate unity in diversity at Walnut Hill Community Church. The church enjoyed diversity in race, ethnicity, age and ability but had no plan to embrace and celebrate the diversity present within the congregation. The purpose of this project was to present recommendations to the leadership of Walnut Hill that would guide the church into a new season of unity in diversity, attract more diversity into the church and more effectively impact an increasingly divided world by uniquely living out the vision of Jesus Christ to “be one” (John 17:11). A catalytic biblical vision for unity in diversity was discovered through the words of Jesus in John 17. The way to unity in diversity was presented by studying the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. The leadership principles necessary to lead toward greater unity in diversity were outlined by concentrating on the biblical leaders who obeyed the radical call to embrace the Gentile community in the Book of Acts. A comprehensive study of related literature revealed common barriers to unity in diversity. This review was also done to determine the most beneficial initiatives and principles to implement in a plan for unity in diversity at Walnut Hill. Interviews, surveys and focus groups were utilized to aid the researcher in the development of an intentional plan for unity in diversity at Walnut Hill. Eight key findings emerged from the data collected, which led the researcher to several practical recommendations that fostered greater unity in diversity at Walnut Hill. The intent of this thesis project was to move the church from embracing inclusion to belonging and then to becoming. Including all people groups in the life of the church is not unity in diversity. Having people groups feel like they belong is better but does not define a church that fully embraces and celebrates unity in diversity. The recommendations moved Walnut Hill from being a church that included and welcomed people from all groups to a church that became community together. Unity in diversity only happens when a congregation desires to become family together. For a church to enjoy this kind of unity takes intentionality. This research project led to practical recommendations for an intentional plan for unity in diversity at Walnut Hill.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis