This last weekend we witnessed another example of our divided country and separated beliefs during an event that pushed our nation farther apart. What took place in Charlottesville, and continues around our nation, leaves me asking myself how we model for our students the courage to stand against those who represent hate, bigotry and racism while at the same time communicating God’s love in how we disagree.
Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary stand against white supremacy, hatred, bigotry and racism as we have for over 150 years. Our founder fought for the freedoms of all people and modeled what it means to stay anchored in faith and engaged in the world around him. I can’t help but think of what B.T. Roberts would do today in light of the current situation in our country. It is clear to me that he would stand with those who are being subjected to acts of hatred and violence.
For such a time as this Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary exist. We exist to stay anchored in our faith and engaged in this world – to speak truth, to call out injustice and to stand with those whose rights are being challenged. It is hard and it will require strength, perseverance and courage. There is no greater time or need for institutions like Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary to honor our mottos of Education for Character and Preparation for Ministry. There is no greater time to live out our mission to graduate people who are good neighbors, who make right and ethical decisions and who stand against injustice. There is no greater time to show love, stand against hatred and focus on the skills needed to lead change.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ve been thinking something since June 2016 when I first read a blog posted by a new faculty member at Northeastern Seminary. It has stayed with me because I was overcome with emotion as I read it. Touched by the transparency and grace in which the blog was written, moved by a reality I do not know and confronted by my responsibility to make a change. Yes, one blog (and the moving of the Holy Spirit!) can do that.
I grew up understanding that all people are created by God and my job is to see and love those I come in contact with. And I agreed with that. In my own naïve mind I thought knowing this was enough. Most of my education has taken place in Christian communities, unfortunately not reflecting the beauty of God’s diversity. As I began my professional career I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a part of diversity training and began understanding my own limits and biases. I learned I have privilege and access that others do not. I learned I have a responsibility, given my privilege and position, to create access for others. To imply that I have “arrived” or understand fully would be an overstatement. I am still continuing on this journey of fully understanding God’s intended world.
After reading the June 2016 blog what came to mind was “This is why diversity matters!”
Diversity is important because it allows us to have a community of different perspectives. It allows us to begin to understand each other in new ways. It challenges us to break down the stereotypes around us and in our own minds. But what I read in this blog is different. It shows me diversity matters because we need to see ourselves in those around us. We need to see it in faculty, staff, students, alumni; teachers, lawyers, doctors, pastors and leaders. And yes, we needed to see diversity at the highest positions in our country. As I read this blog I heard why having a diverse campus for our students, our faculty and staff is important. And I heard that without it we may never fully understand the fullness and richness of who God is.
Today, as we celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who stood tirelessly and faithfully in the face of opposition to gain freedom and equality for the oppressed, I am reminded of why diversity matters and the action I am called to take.
The blog that opened my eyes was In God’s Good Time: On My First Class at Northeastern Seminary, written by faculty member Esau McCaulley. With his permission I have attached the link below. I encourage you to take a moment to read it. As I carefully read each word he wrote, I heard his heart, I heard his joy, I heard his pain and I heard his hope. May his words spur you to a new way of envisioning God’s kingdom and the world around you.
My favorite childhood memory of Easter is at my Grandma and Grandpa Stevens’ house. The extended family would come together for the afternoon meal, for which Grandma had prepared all of our favorite foods. My favorite? The deviled eggs. Each person had his or her favorite food and Grandma would make an extra amount of whatever it was you loved and send it home with you after the meal. As a young child, I never thought about the hours she must have spent preparing and cooking so that all 15 to 20 people could go home with something. I loved this day and my personal plate of deviled eggs because I felt special and I knew Grandma loved me. Looking back now, all I see is the selfless acts of love and her sweet smile that was always patient as we ran in and out of the kitchen waiting for the meal to be served.
This week I have been reflecting on the selfless gift given to each of us. How amazing it is that God would send his son to die on the cross, so we might have eternal life. I am aware of my own limits and in awe of such grace. How truly humbling to be so undeserving, yet given such a gift.
As we break for Good Friday and the Easter weekend, I pray each of you will be able to be with those you love, and have time to reflect on the amazing gift of salvation we have been given. Death could not keep him – He is Risen!
Email sent to the Roberts and Northeastern community.
Homecoming 2015 was fabulous! It is hard to find the right words to articulate what made the three days so wonderful. The alumni who descended on the campus brought an energy and love seen in their smiles, tears and sharing of memories. The class reunions, with yearbooks open and old hairstyles revisited, brought alumni back to the deep sense of community they shared as students. The children of alumni, faculty and staff added laughter and joy, whether in the bounce house or at an athletic event. The current students brought energy under the big tent, sharing the exciting activities and their passion around student organizations. And there were the athletic events. Although there wasn’t a Redhawks soccer game, lacrosse, tennis and volleyball provided exciting games. The weather was outstanding! I could go on and on…It was everything you would wish a homecoming to be.
Amidst all the excitement and energy there were two other significant moments over the weekend – two events that leave me almost speechless: the dedication of the Crothers Science & Nursing Center and the dedication of the Dorothy Whittingham Nursing Simulation Labs.
On Friday morning the community gathered to dedicate the new Crothers Science & Nursing Center. The building, over 40,000 square feet of science and nursing simulation and lab space, was named in honor of former President and First Lady Bill and Rilla Crothers by an anonymous donor. That act alone is worth noting because of the humility and grace in which the donors gave. The donors’ grace was matched by the gracious words of Bill and Rilla when they humbly acknowledged the moment and expressed their gratitude to the staff, faculty and colleagues who served with them. Throughout the day and weekend the new building was praised and admired by scores of people who toured it, by the news media coverage and during the many other events of Homecoming. There are many stories to tell, but I encourage you to personally visit the new building to see what all the “buzz” is about. This new building represents God’s faithfulness and his ability to use people in advancing his mission. He did that through the leadership of the Crothers and it is represented in the beauty and totality of this amazing new facility on our campus.
On Saturday afternoon we dedicated the Dorothy Whittingham Nursing Simulation Lab, which is a significant part of the Crothers Science & Nursing Center. I was amazed by the number of alumni at the dedication – how many had been impacted by the life of one visionary leader. To have known Dorothy would have been a gift. The stories told revealed her belief in students, her strong leadership and her commitment to advancing transformational education in the lives of those she educated at Roberts.
I could go on and on about homecoming but will leave you with a short video that captured some of the events.