King’s Publishes College-Wide Commitment to Unity in Diversity

This June, The King’s College published “A Biblical-Theological Commitment to Unity in Diversity” to present a shared vision for ethnic diversity in light of the College’s mission.

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This June, The King’s College published “A Biblical-Theological Commitment to Unity in Diversity” to present a vision for ethnic diversity in light of the College’s mission. This statement is intended to provide a common understanding that students, staff, and faculty can rally behind. A committee of the College, chaired by Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies Dr. Dru Johnson, has been working on this statement for the past year.
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The Unity in Diversity statement lays out the biblical basis for taking particular care to cultivate diverse cultures and perspectives, citing examples like the “multi-ethnic authorship of the four-gospel tradition” and the “final eschatological vision of ‘every tribe, nation, and tongue’ united before God’s throne.” It also lays out why it is especially important for higher education institutions to cultivate diversity:

Many forms of diversity—including race, socio-economic background, national origin, sex, age, ability/disability, and marital status—factor significantly into how one experiences, and benefits from, higher education. However, America’s particularly problematic history with slavery and discrimination based upon national origins poses unique challenges for higher education institutions.
. . . Christian education must have a special commitment to cultivating the diverse cultures and perspectives within it, while also critically engaging them.

The statement concludes with a series of practices that the College aspires to, including repentance and openness to correction.

Beginning this fall, elements from the Unity in Diversity commitment will become a part of the public pledge that students make when they sign the Honor Code. Staff and faculty will be held to this standard via the Employee Handbook.

A biblical vision for unity within ethnic diversity was one of several proposals that came out of then-president Dr. Gregory Alan Thornbury’s Commission on Multi-Ethnicity. In their 2016 Findings Report, Commission members cite Azusa Pacific University professor Dr. Laurie Schreiner’s observation that “Students of color experience predominantly white campuses in significantly different ways from white students,” especially regarding levels of satisfaction and sense of belonging, and noted that this was also the case on the King’s campus.[1] In April 2017, the Commission submitted a series of proposals to help the College provide ethnic minority students the same opportunities to flourish as other students.

Another of those proposals was to create an academic institute focused on the contributions of Black Christian communities to Christianity worldwide. The Center for the Study of Christianity and the Black Experience was announced on Friday after several years of planning and an initial organizational meeting in November 2019.

The new commitment and center supplement other steps the College is taking to shape students’ moral imaginations and provide education about racial and ethnic diversity. On Thursday, June 18, President Tim Gibson hosted “Serpent in the Garden: Christian Perspectives on Race Relations in America,” a webinar featuring Dr. Anthony Bradley, Dr. David Tubbs, Dr. Dru Johnson, and Dr. Dami Kabiawu. Additionally, Student Development is planning to partner with on-campus and outside organizations to host conversations around race and justice this coming academic year.

[1] Laurie A. Schreiner, “Different Pathways to Thriving Among Students of Color: An Untapped Opportunity for Success,” About Campus 19, no. 5 (2014): 12.

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