SCORR conference demonstrates cross-cultural community

Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation explores the theme “A House of Prayer for All Peoples.”

Lena Smith, Writer

On Feb. 24 and 25, university students, faculty and staff members will gather at Biola for the 16th annual Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation. The two-day event will explore the implications of the conference theme, “A House of Prayer for All Peoples,” which is taken from Isaiah 56:7.

“This year’s theme focuses on how the people of God, whether in the church or in Christian colleges/universities, should exemplify spiritual disciplines in community across cultures and socio-economic lines,” according to the SCORR web page on Biola’s website.

Students gather from various institutions

Last year, the largest event of the conference included approximately 600 Biola students, in addition to the nearly 150 visiting participants. Since Biola students and staff are not required to register, it is difficult to establish the total number of conference participants. This year, Biola will host approximately 120 visitors, including students and faculty from Westmont College, George Fox University, Moody Bible Institute, Simpson University, Azusa Pacific University and Fresno Pacific University.

The conference will also welcome students from several institutions visiting for the first time, including members of The Master’s College, William Jessup University, Fuller Theological Seminary and Cedarville University from Ohio. Visiting students will be hosted on campus by Biola students in dorms for the duration of their stay. The event is free for Biola students, staff and faculty.

Raymond Bakke to speak

The keynote speaker of the conference is Raymond Bakke, a leader in urban ministry. Bakke has been extensively involved in inner-city ministries and urban mission development since 1959, according to his profile on the SCORR web page. He has founded several organizations and taught at several theological seminaries.

Bakke served as chancellor, distinguished professor of global urban ministry and member of the board of regents at Bakke Graduate University until Dec. 31, 2011, according to his speaker profile. Bakke continues to serve as a consultant for urban ministries and organizations around the world.

Tamra Newman, the associate director of Biola’s multi-ethnic programs and development, believes Bakke will cultivate a biblical perspective on the concept of racial reconciliation.

“He is a very distinguished speaker that can clearly divide God’s word and shed light on the cultural and ethnic diversity in Scriptures,” Newman said.

Newman notes that Bakke’s presence as a Caucasian keynote speaker “is a great example that racial reconciliation is not a conversation that is only for or led by people of color. It is inclusive and very important to have voices from our white brothers and sisters as well.”

Bakke will speak at the conference luncheon on Feb. 24 at 12 p.m. and at the closing session on Feb. 25 at 3:30 p.m. He will also speak at Biola’s chapel on Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m.

Conference scope broadens

The conference has undergone tremendous developments since the first event held in 1996, according to Glen Kinoshita, the director of Biola’s multi-ethnic programs and development and founder of SCORR.

“We originally started the conference as a time to support those who were feeling marginalized in Christian colleges [and] who were seeking to connect with other schools with similar life journeys,” Kinoshita said. “As a result, it was meant to be an intimate dialogue to support and encourage us to keep going [in the ministry of racial reconciliation].”

Over the years, the scope of the conference has broadened to meet the needs and desires of the participants. Workshops and conference events are crafted to further the understanding of racial reconciliation in the lives of participants who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

“As you grow in your diversity process, it’s just like any other developmental process,” Kinoshita said. “You go through sequential stages. You learn more, you connect with others, [and] then you connect with deeper material. The challenge is that we have to try to plan sessions that address the different levels of understanding and development.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating