Calvin College: Institutional Racism?

Here’s a post I read this morning from Reconciliation Blog.
My dad just came back from Calvin College this weekend where he was attending the symposium on Worship. Calvin (and the CRC in general) strikes me as an institution that is into the idea of cultural diversity in the church (more than my own denomination’s college perhaps). Some of their worship resources have that scholarly vibe of the patchwork quilt of diversity. So it seems odd to me that they would be so off the mark on this issue, and so apparently clueless about racial dynamics.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they probably see the issue as “one of our faculty members wants to worship at a BAPTIST (gasp!) church.” But, of course, the reality is that this woman just wants to be in a church where she does not experience alienation on a weekly basis.
Lord, if only their were reformed churches in Grand Rapids that had anything to offer this African American woman. Lead us, Jesus!
-I’m interested to here Heidi’s thoughts as an alumni of Calvin.
-I’m also interested to here my dad’s take on the symposium.
-I’m surprised that Anthony over at the Institute hasn’t written a post about it yet.

  1. #1 by Heidi Vincent on January 31, 2008 - 9:28 am

    The reality is that the issue of professors being required to attend a reformed church has been a major area of contention since WAY before my time. Calvin’s inability to support professors associated with non-reformed churches is VERY disturbing. When I attended Calvin, I went to the Catholic church (mass) for most of my freshman year and received little heat from it, but-keep in mind that I’m not a professor required to teach reformed theology (which is really what all the profs teach regardless of the field). As far as discipleship goes, I’m not sure how I think dictating a professor’s church family is going to foster discipleship. At this point, my concern-as it has been from the moment I attended my first mosaic meeting-is that the CRC, has a dangerous habit of choosing tradition over true reconciliation. I believe that is the case with the Isom decision as well as their position on woman in the church…I won’t go into that on your blog, but it too needs to be considered.
    I will say that I was very blessed at Calvin. It is an academically excellent school, and the professors are some of the most nurturing and brilliant people I’ve ever met. I should also say, I had a very culturally stretching experience. With that said-I should mention that I had a very unique living arrangement that allowed it. When I joined Calvin I signed up to be part of a new “project”. I was one of the first members of an intentional racial reconciling community called “The Mosaic Community”. The Mosaic Community was a small group (50 men and woman) of men and woman, from different countries and cultural backgrounds dedicated to living together in order to address difficult cultural and racial issues. We ate together, attended seminars on racial issues, prayed together and fought together (by fighting I not only mean we fought issues but we fought each other too!) It was hard. Most conflicts I encountered were issues of African American and white Americans “missing each other”. During that year the community really worked through some tough issues and taught naive people like myself a lot about white privilege and cultural sins. Overall, many of us would say ethnic minorities often unheard and frustrated on the whole during their Calvin experience. I remember once talking to one of my favorite professors of all time, Professor Jelks about frustrations with the lack of dialogue on campus outside of the Mosaic community to see if profs felt the same way. Actually, if you don’t mind I’d love to direct him to your blog to see if he’d like to comment. He was a brilliant professor at Calvin very involved with the African American students…He, being an African American professor, brought a lot of wisdom to Calvin that I miss hearing.
    I should stop typing…this is way too long (nutshell version?)
    Thanks for posting on this.

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