Over the last few weeks I have had many opportunities to listen to our students, staff, and parents. There have been stories of pain and stories of hope. Our chapel speaker last Tuesday was Julian Newman, Founder and CEO of Culture Creative. We started by acknowledging that although we have had one public incident, there are likely other messages or comments that have not gone public and that we have a responsibility as a school community to rid ourselves of these practices. Julian did an amazing job of reminding us of the reality of both the pain of the crucifixion and the hope of the resurrection. Although many of us tend to focus on either the pain of Friday or the hope and forgiveness of Sunday, we acknowledged that we need both. We don’t get to Sunday without Friday. It was a freeing and healing message for many of us as we work towards restoration as a community. To watch Julian’s message, please click here.
After chapel Tuesday, Julian ran restorative circles where students had an opportunity to share and to listen. He was available again Wednesday morning as we empowered students to help carve out a path forward to inclusion. We recognize that we need more time for students and parents to continue the conversation that leads us to be a more culturally competent school community. Each voice at Grand Rapids Christian is important and we commit to providing opportunities in the near future.
We don’t look for tough times, but when they come, we trust that God will use them for good. Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It’s in this knowledge and faith that we move forward doing the work that God has called us to do as an anti-racist, inclusive school community. As our superintendent, Tom DeJonge, noted in his letter last week, we will build on our previous work with the Cultural Intelligence Center as we form a partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The Foundation’s support will allow us to form community partners like Julian Newman and Culture Creative who walk alongside us as experts in the field of diversity and inclusion.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers as we seek to be a more inclusive, culturally competent community for our students. Please watch for dates soon for our community to come together and dialogue.