(RNS) — Pastor Talbot Davis routinely knocks on doors in the neighborhoods around his Good Shepherd Church, offering to pray a blessing over a new home or a new homeowner.

Over time, he realized his congregation did not reflect the growing diversity of the neighborhood. So about 20 years ago, he set about transforming his church, located on the southern tip of Charlotte, North Carolina, near the border with Fort Mill, South Carolina, into a multiracial congregation.

He succeeded.

Pre-pandemic, Good Shepherd had a Sunday attendance of 2,000, and has grown to become not only the largest United Methodist church in the Charlotte area, but also its most diverse. About 65% of worshippers are white; the rest, Black and Latino.

Now, a new study published

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