An Open Letter from Christian Educators on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in America

June 2, 2020

As Christian educators, we join together to stand against America’s persistent and insidious sin of racism. We lament the suffering of our black and brown brothers and sisters and stand alongside them in grief over the egregious injustices that persistently befall their communities. We also lament for the times when Christian schools individually and collectively are part of the problem rather than the solution. As Christian educators, we are committed to continuously educating ourselves and our students to root out racism and injustice in our own beliefs and practices, in our relationships and communities, in our schools, and in our country.

This commencement season, we send our graduates into the world with deep love, hope, and pride. Yet, amidst the celebration, we recognize the deep hurt and trauma that many of our students—particularly our black and brown students—are holding at the same time. For too long, they have had to conform to a triumphant story of American exceptionalism, absent the majority culture’s humble and personalized reflection on its own biases and ignorance to the lived reality of students of color and their families. These realities range from daily microaggressions at best to overt expressions of hate and inhumane loss of life at worst. Not unlike George Floyd, many are gasping for air as they suppress their pain, wondering if the promises and well wishes at commencement ceremonies are also genuinely meant for them.

And why shouldn’t they wonder? Our students of color have watched in the recent weeks the violent and deadly treatment of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. These names—which represent individuals created in the image of God and worthy of love, respect, and dignity (Genesis 1), and for whom Christ died (John 3:16)—are the most recent. From Emmett Till to Michael Brown, to Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner, to Kendra James to Sandra Bland—these are just a few of the more recent names, known widely because their deaths were photographed or filmed. But countless names remain unknown from over 400 years history of racially motivated violence and injustice—from slavery to Jim Crow, zoning laws to stop and frisk and mass incarceration, unemployment and inequitable compensation, and lack of access to healthcare and police brutality.

Our history has thrown up a constant, debilitating barrier to a God-intended flourishing life often preached in churches on Sundays and weekly chapels in Christian schools. The good news of the Gospel is for all, but it also places its emphasis on the marginalized and oppressed (Matthews 5); and, as we recently celebrated Pentecost Sunday, God birthed the Christian church on the foundation of linguistic and cultural diversity (Acts 2). Where our actions and commitments have deviated from what we have believed and preached, we collectively ask forgiveness from God and, as importantly (Matthew 5:24), from our brothers and sisters of color.

For the sake of the flourishing of all of our students, we must come together as an educational community and not only squarely face our country’s original sin of racism, but also combat its persistent poison. If Christian educators and leaders simply voice their sympathy and condemnation of the individual cases of injustice, we risk again ignoring, trivializing, or outright dismissing the lived realities of our students and colleagues of color. Instead we must stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to call out sin prophetically, minister humbly as a community to those who are hurting, and act meaningfully as a collective witness of God’s justice (Amos 5).

By signing our names to this letter, we, as Christ-centered educators and as representatives of the Christian education learning community, collectively:

  • Lament along with the black community for the violence (verbal, physical, cultural, and psychological) that they experience daily due to longstanding and ongoing racism;
  • Acknowledge humbly that racism and privilege are poison in our communities and we have long ignored their impact on all of us in our Christian schools;
  • Stand in solidarity with our black and brown students and colleagues and are ready to listen and humbly learn, while seeking to amplify their voices and experiences so as to take the first steps toward reconciliation and restoration; and
  • Acknowledge that some of our Christian schools were founded with the intent of white separatism, rooted in white supremacy culture, and together we share the burden to lead a vision of racial reconciliation and equity.

We also commit collectively and individually (either for the first time, or afresh) to the following actions, which demonstrate a tangible and real commitment to creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable educational communities:

  • Prioritizing diversity in our admissions processes, with an emphasis on increasing accessibility (financial and otherwise) to Christian education for historically underserved communities and families;
  • Diversifying our leadership, faculty, and staff through means of our hiring and promotion processes and decisions at all levels;
  • Providing ongoing training for leadership, faculty, and staff in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to engage them in honest self-reflection around these issues as well as equip them to foster a just and safe educational culture for students of all races and backgrounds;
  • Ensuring our curricula and classroom resources reflect the voices and perspectives of diverse groups, inclusive of race and ethnicity, so that students of all backgrounds can see themselves represented as well as learn from those different from themselves;
  • Fostering dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion in our educational communities, and amplify marginalized voices and experiences, acknowledge and address privilege, and be Gospel-centric with reconciliation and restoration as its aim;
  • Encouraging and supporting the leadership of students of color, first broadly throughout our schools and institutions, and additionally, specific to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Reducing cultural insularity by meaningfully connecting our schools/institutions, staff, and students with community and church partners in our area who are engaged in this and similar work; and
  • Holding each other mutually accountable to these commitments.

We believe that the above actions are first steps toward racial reconciliation and restoration in our Christian educational communities. But we know full well that the work will be hard and long. Yet this is the Gospel-centered work that our hurting country and communities need. We are reminded that Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35) and that Matthew 5:14-16 instructs us, “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Through love and good deeds, empowered by God who works within us to fulfill His good purpose (Philippians 2:13), we can combat racism; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; and build just educational communities together. In doing so, and through a Gospel-inspired imagination for a better future, we will ultimately “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

An Open Letter from Christian Educators on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in America

Share this on open letter:

   

Only full name, organization and date signed will be shown. Email will not be shown.

Latest Signatures
254 Brad Van Beek Sunnyside Christian School Oct 12, 2020
253 Karyn Farrar-Perkins Village Christian School Oct 08, 2020
252 Margie Dashwood CCS Oct 02, 2020
251 Will Hohm none Sep 28, 2020
250 Cynthia Gant Jul 20, 2020
249 Nathan Jann Southwest Chicago Christian Schools Jul 18, 2020
248 Wendy Hofman Lansing Christian School Jul 18, 2020
247 Kevin Vaughan Jul 16, 2020
246 Michael Epp ACSI Jul 07, 2020
245 Jeff DeVries Illiana Christian High School Jul 01, 2020
244 Lynn Drenth Southwest Chicago Christian school Jun 29, 2020
243 Sheryl Holwerda Rehoboth Christian School Jun 29, 2020
242 Robert Vermeer Jun 28, 2020
241 Karen Doorn Chicago Christian High School Jun 26, 2020
240 Cristin Lenters Chicago Christian High School Jun 26, 2020
239 Jack Ippel Volunteer, Rehoboth Christian School Jun 25, 2020
238 Henry Doorn Southwest Chicago Christian School Jun 25, 2020
237 Philip Siemer Southwest Chicago Christian Schools Jun 24, 2020
236 Michael Drury Chicago Christian High School Jun 24, 2020
235 Jean Bergeson Southwest Chicago Christian School Board Jun 24, 2020
234 Jean Bergeson Southwest Chicago Christian School Association Jun 24, 2020
233 Wendy Groenewegen Calvin Christian school Jun 24, 2020
232 Randy Moes Calvin Christian School Jun 24, 2020
231 Christian Altena Chicago Christian High School Jun 24, 2020
230 CCS Board Calvin Christian School Society Jun 23, 2020
229 Cynthia de Leon Prestonwood Christian Academy Jun 23, 2020
228 Lydia Santos Summit Christian Academy Jun 23, 2020
227 Ginger` Lambert Summit Christian Academy Jun 23, 2020
226 Peter Ippel Rehoboth Christian School Jun 22, 2020
225 Maria Hoekstra Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 22, 2020
224 Andy Cousens Jun 21, 2020
223 Mary Bondurant Jun 20, 2020
222 Dan Meester Rehoboth Christian School Jun 19, 2020
221 Bob Ippel Rehoboth Chr School Jun 19, 2020
220 Jim Vos Grand Rapids Christian Middle School Jun 18, 2020
219 Tami Doig Daystar Academy Jun 18, 2020
218 Andrew Forrester Regents School of Austin Jun 17, 2020
217 Siân Zylstra Grand Rapids Christian Middle School Jun 17, 2020
216 Bradley Weidenaar Marshalltown High School Jun 17, 2020
215 Elizabeth Dombrowski All Belong Center for Inclusive Education Jun 17, 2020
214 Clyde Rinsema Pella Christian High School Jun 17, 2020
213 William Boerman-Cornell Trinity Christian College Jun 16, 2020
212 Regina Ross-Ude Calvin Christian School Board of Directors Jun 16, 2020
211 Seth Stadtlander Eastern Christian School Jun 16, 2020
210 Craig Irvine Calvin Christian School Jun 16, 2020
209 Dan Olson Spreading Hope Network Jun 16, 2020
208 Scott Eberle SIM Jun 16, 2020
207 Abby De Groot Dordt University Jun 16, 2020
206 Chris Winters Contra Costa Christian Schools Jun 16, 2020
205 Dan DeKam West Michigan Christian Schools Jun 16, 2020
204 Simon Jeynes Christian School Management Jun 16, 2020
203 Linda Merriott Southcrest Christian School Jun 16, 2020
202 Dan Vermeer Pella Christian High School Jun 16, 2020
201 Mary Scott Concordia International School Shanghai Jun 16, 2020
200 Cindy Zavaglia Jun 16, 2020
199 Thomas Van Soelen Van Soelen & Associates, LLC Jun 16, 2020
198 James Smock Timothy Christian School Jun 16, 2020
197 Joshua Wilkerson Regents School of Austin Jun 16, 2020
196 Jamie Wernet Lansing Christian School Jun 16, 2020
195 Jeff McMaster Brazos Christian School Jun 16, 2020
194 Sacha Bryan-Whitmore Charleston Bilingual Academy Jun 15, 2020
193 Thomas Lambert Aquinas High School Jun 15, 2020
192 Christine Zhang Westminster Schools of Augusta Jun 15, 2020
191 Jordan Lambert Westminster Schools of Augusta Jun 15, 2020
190 Adam Hart Bellevue Christian Jun 15, 2020
189 Stephen Livingston Houston Christian High School Jun 14, 2020
188 Brian Case Westminster Schools of Augusta Jun 14, 2020
187 Barry Shealy First Presbyterian Day School Jun 13, 2020
186 Mark Dixon Delaware County Christian School Jun 13, 2020
185 Trent Williamson Harding Academy of Memphis Jun 12, 2020
184 Mikaela Van Soelen Dordt University Jun 12, 2020
183 Chris Madlena Life Christian Academy Jun 12, 2020
182 Gus Martin Life Christian Academy Jun 12, 2020
181 Missy Meekhof Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 12, 2020
180 Sara Seth Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 11, 2020
179 Kristin DeKock Ontario Christian High School Jun 11, 2020
178 Joelle Williams Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 11, 2020
177 Rebekah Gross Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 11, 2020
176 Mitchell Salerno Monte Vista Christian School Jun 11, 2020
175 David Gross Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 10, 2020
174 Matt Northrop Oaks Christian School Jun 10, 2020
173 Robert Lagerwey Illiana Christian High School Jun 10, 2020
172 Tricia Schinkel Calvin Christian School, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Jun 10, 2020
171 Matthew Foster Little Rock Christian Academy Jun 10, 2020
170 Sandra Burner Vail Christian High School Jun 10, 2020
169 Geoffrey Forrest Hicks Faculty, Boston Trinity Academy Jun 10, 2020
168 Mary Lagerwey Illiana Christian High School Jun 10, 2020
167 Jane Hilbrands Jun 10, 2020
166 Cynthia Huggins First Presbyterian Day School, Macon, GA Jun 10, 2020
165 Kathy Ruiter Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 09, 2020
164 Frank Guerra Boston Trinity Academy Jun 09, 2020
163 Andrea Unsicker Whitefield Academy Jun 09, 2020
162 Kristy Alvarez First Presbyterian Day School, Macon Ga Jun 09, 2020
161 Alan Aimi Pacific Bay Christian School, Pacifica, CA (Chairman of the School Board) Jun 09, 2020
160 Natalie Talbot Ayres Pacific Bay Christian Jun 09, 2020
159 Amy Perras OLCHS Jun 08, 2020
158 Alastair Walker Faith International Academy Jun 08, 2020
157 Nancy VanWinkle Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
156 Denae O'Neil Vail Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
155 Joy Ludwig Delaware County Christian School Jun 08, 2020
154 David Gould Bethany School Jun 08, 2020
153 Anna Valladares Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 08, 2020
152 Tamesha Massey Redlands Christian Schools Jun 08, 2020
151 Carolyn Groendyk Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
150 Sara Johnson Illiana Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
149 Shawn Ledebur Jun 08, 2020
148 Steve O'Neil Vail Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
147 Frank Padilla Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 08, 2020
146 Tamara Gilreath Jun 08, 2020
145 David Mawhinney Boston Trinity Academy Jun 08, 2020
144 Julie Watson Grand Rapids Christian HS Jun 08, 2020
143 Steve Sideris Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Jun 08, 2020
142 Cheri Swets Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 08, 2020
141 Stephanie Boven Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 08, 2020
140 Robert McCollum Gilbert Christian Schools Jun 08, 2020
139 Nancy Michaels Grand Rapids Christian Jun 08, 2020
138 Stacey Hicklin Jun 08, 2020
137 Dominic Partida Life Pacific University Jun 08, 2020
136 Teri Elliott Boston Trinity Academy Jun 07, 2020
135 Kara Kits Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 07, 2020
134 Jennifer Summers Naples Christian Academy Jun 07, 2020
133 Cammie Montgomery Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Armleder School Jun 07, 2020
132 Victoria Fischer Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 07, 2020
131 Larry Borst Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 07, 2020
130 Mark Warners Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 07, 2020
129 Shirlene VanEek Abma Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 07, 2020
128 Jana Brasser Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
127 Brian Karsten Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
126 Melissa Allen Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
125 Donna Kamerman-Houskamp Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
124 William Branch Jun 06, 2020
123 Cindy Klaver Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
122 Steve Blom Bright Promise Fund Jun 06, 2020
121 Kristen Martin Dallas Christian School Jun 06, 2020
120 Beverly Vanderwell Mrs. Jun 06, 2020
119 Jason Heerema Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
118 Kevin Broene Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
117 Eve Ricketts Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
116 Gina Curry Jun 06, 2020
115 Dale Carl Fredrickson Cherry Hills Christian School Jun 06, 2020
114 Jeff Culver Valor Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
113 Matt Hummel Delaware County Christian School Jun 06, 2020
112 Nathan Wiechel Allendale Christian School Jun 06, 2020
111 Martha Leeson Dallas Christian School Jun 06, 2020
110 Elizabeth Hoving Grand Rapids Christian high school Jun 06, 2020
109 Kevin Van Harn Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
108 Travis Kuiper Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
107 Ellen Strohm Delaware County Christian School Jun 06, 2020
106 Rebecca Polet Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 06, 2020
105 Christine Allen Delaware County Christian School Jun 06, 2020
104 Lisa Rozema Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
103 Crystal Strickland Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
102 Rebecca Kissinger Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
101 Christopher Cook Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
100 Steven Tuit Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 06, 2020
99 Chad Fenley Delaware County Christian School Jun 06, 2020
98 Luke Fennema Illiana Christian High School Jun 05, 2020
97 Matt Petersen Westminster Academy Jun 05, 2020
96 Josh Crans Providence Church - Coatesville Jun 05, 2020
95 Tony Kamphuis Christian School Foundation Jun 05, 2020
94 Tandy HICKS Grace Community School Jun 05, 2020
93 Steven Levy CACE Jun 05, 2020
92 Malcolm Thomas Village Christian School Jun 05, 2020
91 Ron Hoch Redeemer Classical School Jun 05, 2020
90 Emily Jansen Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 05, 2020
89 Joanna Burkholder Santa Fe Chrsitian Schools Jun 05, 2020
88 Kathryn Wiens CESA Jun 05, 2020
87 Mike Siciliano Santa Fe Christian Jun 05, 2020
86 Owen Davis Santiago Christian School Jun 05, 2020
85 Matt Wiers Redlands Christian School Jun 05, 2020
84 Deb Van Duinen Hope College Jun 05, 2020
83 Michelle Glenn Rock Academy Jun 05, 2020
82 Tyler Amidon Denver Christian School Jun 05, 2020
81 John Barkel Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School Jun 05, 2020
80 Michelle Sandwell Norfolk Christian Schools Jun 05, 2020
79 Joy Jones Rockford Christian School Rockford, MI Jun 05, 2020
78 Kim Hurtado Bible Study Fellowship Jun 05, 2020
77 Pastor Marvin Blake The Water Table Group Foundation- International Jun 05, 2020
76 Becca Iveson Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 04, 2020
75 Susan Scola Christ Episcopal School Jun 04, 2020
74 Seth Cohen Jupiter Christian School Jun 04, 2020
73 Shelby Bumgarner Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 04, 2020
72 Vanda Roth Jun 04, 2020
71 Mark Bermudez Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 04, 2020
70 Gordon Hultberg Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 04, 2020
69 Shari Hazlett Jun 04, 2020
68 Beth Hague Grand Rapids Christian schools Jun 04, 2020
67 Phil Warners Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 04, 2020
66 Dave Mulder Dordt University Jun 04, 2020
65 Rachel Foy Ontario Christian High School Jun 04, 2020
64 Gaylord Ogden Pacific Bay Christian Schools Jun 04, 2020
63 Beck Brydon Regents School of Austin Jun 04, 2020
62 Nathanael Hope Intermountain Christian School Jun 04, 2020
61 Greg Wojczynski Mr. Jun 04, 2020
60 Ben Buursma Grand Rapids Christian Schools Jun 04, 2020
59 Tim Van Soelen Center For The Advancement Of Christian Education Jun 04, 2020
58 Eric Bowling Wheaton Academy Jun 04, 2020
57 Shellina Marshall Delaware County Christia.m Jun 04, 2020
56 Megan King Delaware County Christian School Jun 04, 2020
55 Betty Handy The City School Jun 04, 2020
54 Audrey McGregor Trinity Christian School Jun 04, 2020
53 Kristin Stone Legacy Christian Academy Jun 04, 2020
52 Christy Mactavish Jun 04, 2020
51 David Balik ACSI Jun 04, 2020
50 Sara Poole Calvary Christian School Jun 04, 2020
49 James Walker Capistrano Valley Christian Schools Jun 03, 2020
48 Claudia Nachtigal Norfolk Christian Schools Jun 03, 2020
47 Tom TenBrink Jenison Public Schools Jun 03, 2020
46 Kevin Taylor Front Range Christian School Jun 03, 2020
45 Lou Shapiro Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 03, 2020
44 Bruno Giamba Jun 03, 2020
43 Brad Mockabee Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 03, 2020
42 Dionne Delaney The City School Jun 03, 2020
41 Kimberly Gegner New Hope Christian Academy Jun 03, 2020
40 Vicki Taylor The City School Jun 03, 2020
39 Katelin Conde-Rodriguez The City School Jun 03, 2020
38 Chuck Berwick Delaware County Christian School Jun 03, 2020
37 Susan Reilly Mount Pisgah Christian School Jun 03, 2020
36 Joseph Jasper Whittier Christian High School Jun 03, 2020
35 Daniel Steinfield Delaware County Christian School Jun 03, 2020
34 David Intlekofer Eastern Christian School Jun 03, 2020
33 Lauri Bradt Intermountain Christian School Jun 03, 2020
32 Jennifer Wan Boston Trinity Academy Jun 03, 2020
31 Grace Daggett Doulos Discovery School Jun 03, 2020
30 Matt Johnson Intermountain Christian school Jun 03, 2020
29 Dan Azzarello Precept Marketing Group Jun 03, 2020
28 Charlene Powell-Atkins Jun 03, 2020
27 Kevin Dodson Lake Country Christian School Jun 03, 2020
26 Ben Dykhouse Ontario Christian School Jun 03, 2020
25 Megan Strange North Cobb Christian School Jun 02, 2020
24 Jim McKenzie The Rock School Jun 02, 2020
23 Nick DeKoster Grand Rapids Christian High School Jun 02, 2020
22 Allie Atchison New Hope Presbyterian Church Jun 02, 2020
21 Sean Atchison Cherry Hills Christian School Jun 02, 2020
20 Dan Beckering Southwest Christian High School Jun 02, 2020
19 Scott Montgomery Heritage Christian School Jun 02, 2020
18 Erik Ellefsen Jun 02, 2020
17 Brian Verwolf Western Christian High School Jun 02, 2020
16 Montie Mansur River City Believers Academy Jun 02, 2020
15 Mitchell Menning Intermountain Christian School Jun 02, 2020
14 Steven Kyle Mount Paran Christian School Jun 02, 2020
13 Eric Bradley Raleigh, nc Jun 02, 2020
12 John Murray Imago Dei Leadership Forum Jun 02, 2020
11 Michael Zavada RoundTable Education Consulting Jun 02, 2020
10 Dan Beerens Dan Beerens Educational Consulting, Inc. Jun 02, 2020
9 Jennifer Scott Mount Pisgah Christian School Jun 02, 2020
8 Krista Wallace Christian Deeper Learning Conference Jun 02, 2020
7 Lynn Swaner ACSI Jun 02, 2020
6 Joel Gaines The City School Jun 02, 2020
5 JOEL HAZARD Fort Bend Christian Academy Jun 02, 2020
4 Antoinette Iroko Howard University School of Law Jun 02, 2020
3 Tia Gaines The City School Philadelphia Jun 02, 2020
2 Jenny Brady Prestonwood Christian Academy Jun 02, 2020
1 Michael Chen Pacific Bay Christian School Jun 02, 2020