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Bethel releases action statement aimed at racial justice

June 2nd, 2020

The Bethel bell

President Jon Gering, in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, shared a statement and action steps following the most recent death of a black man in police custody.

Working with Julián Gonzalez-Salamanca, director of the ODI, Gering sent the statement on the evening of June 2 to faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends of the college.

The text of the statement follows in its entirety:

Dear Bethel Community,

We are writing to you today to express our grief, anger and sadness over the recent deaths of people of color.

George Floyd was asphyxiated to death by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020.

Breonna Taylor was shot to death by plainclothes police officers in her apartment in Louisville, Ky., on March 13, 2020.

Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while jogging in Brunswick, Ga., on Feb. 23, 2020.

The list is much longer ... too long for people of good conscience to accept in the 21st century United States.

Bethel College is an academic institution committed to faith and learning. We share the pain and suffering of people of color whose lives have been forever changed by unnecessary acts of violence and police brutality. We reaffirm our values statements, and will continue to teach our students to strive for peace and justice that seeks fair and equitable treatment for all members of society. We will participate in dialogue that transforms conflict within communities where there are differences in opinion and understanding.

Mere words, position statements, posts and tweets are insufficient to address the systemic issues of racial injustice in our society. Dear Threshers – we will need to participate in more constructive behaviors to bend the “arc of the moral universe toward justice.” No form of progress is inevitable. We must work with conviction to achieve human flourishing.

Please join the Thresher community in supporting people of color by participating in forums and events planned for the upcoming month. Specific dates, times and platforms will be announced later this week.

  • Participate in Bethel’s Hour of Prayer for Racial Justice, hosted by Campus Pastor Peter Goerzen.
  • Participate in an upcoming virtual forum, hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in conjunction with Bethel alumni. Learn how to be an ally and accomplice for black people and for systemic change.
  • Be inspired by the voices of our students as they share their own experiences and requests for help. Students can submit their 30-second video clips to
  • Give to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Bethel College Anti-Racism Coalition (BCARC) at so that they can continue their work to address systemic change on Bethel’s campus.

We pray for the families and friends of those whose lives have been lost to injustice; we act to be transformative peacemakers; we ask you to join us to end institutional inequality and systems of oppression. 

In solidarity,

Jon C. Gering, President

Julián Gonzalez-Salamanca, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see 


About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.