On Tuesday I posted a statement that in my mind and thinking was true to the mission of Tabor and communicated my heart’s conviction that everyone matters to God regardless of the color of their skin. I thought I was part of the solution. I have discovered I was not, and the message I wanted to communicate did not come through. To those whom I offended, I am sorry. I ask your forgiveness.
Because this is so important, I have decided to speak again.
My heart is broken by how people of color are treated. Living in fear, experiencing hate and not knowing what might at any time lead to pain or death is an unjust way to live. Not being able to trust those that we depend on to protect us compounds the problem. I hurt for those affected because of the racial issues that have been unresolved over the years. Black lives matter and more importantly, black lives matter to Jesus. I take responsibility and own my thinking, attitudes, feelings, and actions that have contributed to the problem. I am convicted by the words that “All of us have sinned and fall short….“
I believe the problem is not the laws but the heart of people. I want Tabor to be part of the solution. Systemic change begins one person at a time and only comes when hearts are changed. This kind of change begins with a movement of the Spirit of God in our nation. As the prophet Zechariah said, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” I am praying for this.
In an attempt to be part of the solution, Tabor is taking the following actions:
- I am entering into a season of listening. I want to hear the experiences of our students of color. I want to understand their pain and how Tabor contributed to it. I want to hear from alumni as well and their first-hand experiences of racism at Tabor, especially during the past 12 years while I served as president.
- I am proud of and fully support the Students of Color Alliance that was created last spring by our students and Student Life leadership whose work was interrupted by COVID-19. Come this fall, they will be the voice that we will listen to and look to for help in understanding and addressing racial issues on our campus.
- We are launching both an online degree in Criminal Justice in addition to upgrading our on-ground program. The program is unique in that we are installing a Force Reduction simulator that will train men and women to have a mindset that treats all people, especially people of color, with respect while serving as peacekeepers in the community. This is one way we are working to be part of the solution to the police brutality we have witnessed. Men and women will be trained one person at a time to be sent into society with the tools to bring about peace and justice.
I believe this is only a start in the right direction. Tabor College is being challenged and made aware of the inequality, lack of justice, and systemic racism in our community. When the students return in fall, I want our campus to be a safe environment for them. I invite you to engage with me in creating solutions that will make Tabor a place where there is safety for everyone and justice for all. And together we work at making the world more as God wants it to be.