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THV Extra: Little Rock church seeks to unite races | News

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THV Extra: Little Rock church seeks to unite races
News

LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - Mosaic Church in South Little Rock lives a mission of inclusion. Pew research shows churches traditionally have a hard time unifying the races, but Mosaic's direct goal is to change tradition.

"Over 90 percent of churches are segregate. That means we're only hanging out with people in a relational way--people who look just like us," says Mosaic Lead Pastor, Mark DeYmaz.

The numbers speak volumes and show American churches remain divided. Pew research shows a large gap between the religious communities of blacks, whites, and Latinos.

The group sampled more than 35,000 people and used previous studies to draw their conclusions. Despite the staggering statistics, a church in Little Rock has its sights on a different church body painted red, yellow, black and white.

"To be able to mingle with people of my own race and then to also praise alongside other cultures it was just invigorating," says Robert Portillo, a Hispanic member of Mosaic Church.

Portillo recently relocated from Los Angeles to Little Rock and says Mosaic's efforts to include Hispanics make the church feel like family.

According to census data, the Hispanic population in Arkansas became the fastest growing group in the U.S. from 2000 until 2005. The Pew study found only 24 percent of foreign born immigrants joined the protestant church and chose Catholicism.

"If you're willing and open, you can see that we're all human, and at the end of the day, we all care about the same things. We all want to be loved, and we all want to be acknowledged, and we all desire to have family," says Portillo.

Lead Pastor, Mark DeYmaz, founded the church in 2001 with a multi-ethnic vision to break negative stigmas in the church. The diverse family starts at the top.

"Our leadership is entirely diverse, right from our elder board. The pulpit we rotate between black, white, and Chinese," says DeYmaz.

Robert Portillo's wife, Carmen, grew up in a mostly black church and says complacency, not racism, drives separation.

"Sometimes it's uncomfortable to do things, to connect with someone that's different than you, right next to you," says Carmen Portillo.

Mosaic's three services include multiple languages: one in English, one translated from English to Spanish, and one in Spanish.

For Portillo, the balance breaks the mold of divisive Christianity and supplies a chance at unity.

"It just meant a lot to me to commune with all kinds of different races and just to hear people worship God in different languages," says Portillo.

The multi-ethnic vision is making strides at Mosaic. Pastor DeYmaz estimates their congregation is 45 percent white, 35 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic and the remaining 5 percent make up international members.

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