Bethel makes statement opposing racism, white nationalism
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College has issued a statement in response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the weekend of Aug. 11-12.
Peter Goerzen, campus pastor, shared the following on behalf of the Bethel community:
“Another academic year is upon us. Fall athletes have begun their practices and games. New students have arrived, and the rest of our Thresher family has returned. Welcome! You belong and matter at Bethel College.
“Each year, we renew our shared pursuit of our vision for the Bethel College community, in which we ‘welcome and embrace the rich diversity students, faculty and staff from many traditions, backgrounds and cultures bring to the campus’ (Student Handbook, p. 20). Our community – imperfect though it be – makes Bethel what it is, and supports and sustains us. We commit ourselves to work diligently to make this true for each member of our community.
“Recent events compel us to articulate and clarify our vision for our community. The images from the August 11-12 events in Charlottesville, Virginia – of white supremacists marching unmasked with torches and semiautomatic weapons while chanting deadly racist and anti-Semitic slogans – remind us that white supremacy and racism are not mere ghosts of a buried past. These evils are present and persistent in our society.
“Bethel College denounces white supremacy and racism in all its forms as antithetical to the moral vision of our community standards, and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ who, by word and example, stood with the marginalized and oppressed, upended the tables of injustice, loved enemies, defined greatness as service and evoked the hope of God’s just and peaceable reign.
“We also recognize that it may be tempting to make scapegoats of the evils manifesting themselves in communities far away from our own, and thereby excuse ourselves from critical examination of our own complicity in histories, systems, dispositions and processes that result in marginalization and oppression.
“Yet because we value our community, we believe that it also must be subject to scrutiny and correction. Bethel College’s Anti-Oppression Task Force is currently developing the processes by which we will be accountable to our stated ideals. In the meantime, reports of identity-based bias, oppression or discrimination may be filed with the Office of Student Life.
“Indeed, even as we assemble on our beautiful campus, we are mindful that we gather on land that was stolen by the destruction and displacement of Indigenous communities who lived here before us. The memory of this place provokes us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with [our] God’ (Micah 6:8), as we humbly work to dismantle marginalization and oppression in our community. May we stand as a community of costly and courageous love to overcome evil, violence and injustice wherever we may find it.
“In a few short months, during our annual Lighting of the Green Advent service, we will encircle the Green with a wreath of warmth and light. The words with which we will conclude this service also hold the promise for the start of our academic year: ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1:5). Let us let that Light so shine.”
Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities, for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.