Beyond the conference

Last week’s SCORR conference launched conversations on racial reconciliation for the Biola community.

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Taiko drum group performs during the last night of SCORR conference.  |  Marika Adamopoulos/THE CHIMES

Jenna Schmidt, Writer

Last week, the Student Council on Racial Reconciliation held the 19th annual SCORR conference at Biola University. The conference, themed “His Beloved: The Bride of Christ,” tackled difficult topics from identity development to the national incidents of last semester, which brought the conversation on racial reconciliation to the forefront.

Friday, Feb. 21, kicked off the conference with a Friday morning chapel led by Chad Brennan and Michaela Gregory, Christian multi-ethnic trainers involved in several ministries geared towards racial reconciliation.

“What we really want to challenge you to, and I’m speaking from my personal experience, is this isn’t just about me not being a prejudiced guy,” said Brennan, stating that not being bad at something differs from being good at it, applying that idea to racial reconciliation. “This is about me having the ability to really relate and work with and understand people across cultural lines.”

Gregory spoke to her own experience growing up in the context of an African-American neighborhood in Toledo and forming cross-cultural, multi-ethnic relationships when at college.

“I didn’t necessarily have to change who I was,” Gregory said when speaking of her experience attending predominantly white church services and their differences from her more familiar Pentecostal background. “But I did have to ask myself a question — do you want to retain your culture and the way you express yourself so much that people miss the message of the Gospel? Which is more important to you?”

RELEVANT WORKSHOPS

After this introduction to the conference, various workshops on a wide range of topics on ethnic diversity and culture were available. The workshop “Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter,” led by Biola assistant sociology professor Dr. Deshonna Collier and senior sociology major Asnat Ghebremedhin, looked at the events of last semester involving racial tension and the importance of having that conversation at Christian colleges.

Collier discussed the events that affected the nation in 2014, involving Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Taking the time to talk about three men misses hundreds of other people of color who were also killed in interactions with law enforcement, Collier said. Focusing on three black men gives a gendered nuance suggesting these things do not also happen to black women or other people of color.

Ghebremedhin also spoke to the necessity of response in such situations. Silence itself is sometimes a compliance, an allowance for people to keep hurting, Ghebremedhin said.

The workshop also answered questions from several students regarding how to respond from a white perspective and how to start racial and social activism at a predominantly white institution as well as the importance of accountability and community in law enforcement.

Friday’s sessions closed with a worship mosaic and session with keynote speaker Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, as well as a poetry lounge featuring five different artists who blended faith, emotion and personal experiences into poetry. One artist, Faahz, had the crowd on their feet with his dance moves and beatboxing that integrated popular songs with a bass line.

Spray paint design made and on display for the conference.  |  Marika Adamopoulos/THE CHIMES

DISCOVERING CULTURAL IDENTITY

Saturday launched the second day of the conference. Biola alumna Erika Bertling discussed the importance of discovering cultural identity during her workshop, “Mixed, Hapa, Other: Biracial, Multiracial Identity Development.” Bertling explained how many students who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds find it difficult to identify with one particular culture, and explained that it is okay for individuals to embark on a personal journey and define the cultural identity God blessed them with.

“You must never apologize for what you say you are, for who you say you are,” Bertling said.

The closing session of the 2015 SCORR conference opened with worship led in both English and Spanish to emphasize the importance of diversity. Following worship, recording artist Michael Jacobs played a few of his songs as well as the Native American flute. Smith closed the conference with a session discussing how Galatians 2 and 3 are often taken out of context as a solution for racial dilemma.

“I don’t want you to carry on the misuse of this text,” Smith said.

He then explained how everyone receives the same anointing from Christ. Using the second chapter of Philippians, Smith spoke to how we need to die in our mind and heart in order to be reconcilers for Christ.

“We need to be connected to areas where we need to die,” Smith said.

Smith explained how the heart and mind lead us to make decisions that impact people we are in community with, especially those different from us, and closed with an emphasis on the importance of a death in Christ in order to be a reconciler.

 

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