CU Ministry Hosts Panel on Raceby Eileen Scott, Senior Writer
What does the Gospel have to say about race?
That was a question asked by students involved with Christian Union's ministry at Columbia University this winter.
As the fall semester was coming to a close, Jim Black, Christian Union's ministry director at Columbia, and Yolanda Solomon, a ministry fellow, encouraged the students to be a voice on campus following nationwide racial unrest.
On February 5, the leadership development ministry hosted a student-led forum entitled Race and the Gospel. The goal was to present a compelling vision to the wider campus on this topic and offer a deeper understanding of how the Gospel affects the way we view race and racial reconciliation.
"As diverse as we are, people still typically self-segregate, intentionally and unintentionally," said Kalu Ogbureke '16, the president of the ministry.
"On campus, there was no foundation for substantive conversation between those with different perspectives. The quality of dialogue was severely lacking and we felt compelled to do our part."
Ogbureke served as moderator for the panel, where he posed questions to Rev. Joseph Tsang (Vision Church), Rev. Kevin Hart (Christ Crucified Fellowship), and Dr. Anthony Bradley, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at The King's College. Each responded candidly about racial unity and the church's role in forming a cohesive body.
"Our burden is to see that human relationships are what God intended for them to be—characterized by love, union, and intimacy," said Bradley.
All three panelists noted that social justice and racial equality are fundamental ideals of the faith, yet each agreed that the Church is often fractured along racial lines. In reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s view that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week, the speakers called for a more unified church that welcomes the uniqueness of God's people.
Ogbureke and his peers accomplished what they had set out to do, which was to develop a forum that would lead to frank discussion about how Christians can and ought to walk alongside their brothers and sisters of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The roughly 100 students who attended the event reflected a cross section of the cultural diversity represented at Columbia, including representatives from the Black Students Organization and the African Students Association.
"I knew that our ministry could tackle the issue of race in a way that seeks to heal and reconcile the Columbia community by inspiring honest but humble dialogue," said Ogbureke. In addition to engaging the culture about racism, hosting the forum also provided an opportunity for the students to grow as Christian leaders who would be aware of the personal and social implications of racial divides.