SCORR to discuss diversity, God's kingdom
Students from as far away as Wheaton College in Illinois have signed up for the annual Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation (SCORR) conference, which Biola will host on Feb. 25 to 26.
Advancing God’s kingdom through diversity
The conference will focus on the theme of “Your Kingdom Come,” which is found in Matthew 6:10, and will allow students and faculty from schools such as Azusa Pacific University, Fresno Pacific University, George Fox University, Moody Bible Institute and Seattle Pacific University to discuss the issues of not just racial diversity, but diversity in general.
Glen Kinoshita, director of Multi-ethnic Programs at Biola, is heading the conference and said he has been busy all year promoting diversity within the context of furthering God’s kingdom.
“Many diversity initiatives or events of our MEP [Multicultural Ethnic Programs] department are focused on the kingdom of God,” Kinoshita said. “It’s a divine mandate, and issues of reconciliation, diversity and justice are biblically based. The conference takes those themes, and allows faculty, staff and students, both from Biola and from other schools, to be able to gather and have discussion with one another so that SCORR serves a much broader scope than just Biola.”
Larger audience, more diversity
By serving an audience more diverse than just Biola, the conference’s aim is to allow a large audience of people to understand that diversity, and issues of reconciliation, Kinoshita said. This can be seen through the life and teachings of Jesus where he reaches out to the poor.
“He’s reaching out to the marginalized, whoever that might be,” said Kinoshita. “It could be the Samaritans, it could be lepers, the women in society that were discriminated against. In all of these things, Jesus was showing compassion. Jesus was crossing the ethnic and cultural lines to the Gentiles, the Samaritans, and the Hellenistic Jews. He was restoring them, healing them and giving them dignity. Also, he made them feel that they had a place in his kingdom.”
Role of diversity in the kingdom
Kinoshita pointed out that God created people differently, man and woman with different races, different disabilities and different ways of thinking.
“The body of Christ by design is diverse,” Kinoshita said.
Kinoshita also explained the idea of reconciliation.
“[It’s] about loving one another in the midst of a diverse body that God has designed,” Kinoshita said. “It is about bearing each other’s burdens, promoting justice and righteousness. It’s about sharing the gospel. It’s about seeing that no one is neglected in the body of Christ.”
Issues regarding diversity
Yet, Kinoshita said, there is much tension on campus amongst students and faculty based not upon issues of race, but on views of how diversity and reconciliation should be presented within a Christian context.
“[Therefore,] we want to make SCORR a meaningful experience so that people want to come,” Kinoshita said. “We believe we should be addressing pertinent issues that are happening in our society, as well as timeless truths from scripture that we should always be exhorting and learning about.”
Several students said that words like “diversity” and “racial reconciliation” are turn-offs.
“I don’t like it when schools try to facilitate diversity,” freshman Kendra Corman said.“I don’t know if it’s a school’s job to facilitate it. My hope is that it would be just natural, that you gravitate towards who you gravitate towards.”
Despite the controversial nature of the racial reconciliation issue, however, Kinoshita said he will continue having the conference and pushing the idea of openness to the understanding of true diversity within the kingdom of God.
Bringing in different perspectives
Kinoshita said the two keynote addresses will be given by Bryan Loritts and Adam Edgerly. Also, workshops at the conference will allow attendees to hear perspectives from those who have studied Scripture with diversity and reconciliation in mind. They will also allow attendees to practice addressing issues of reconciliation and diversity.
“So you have a combination of presenters who share their insights and experience as having a platform for discussion and for dialogue, which is important in an education context,” Kinoshita said.
The conference will also feature demonstrations of arts of different cultures, including the Taiko fest, a colorful form of Japanese drumming.
“There is opportunity for allowing for the creativity that diversity brings, whether it is music, or drama, or culturally diverse art forms,” Kinoshita said.
Kinoshita said the conference includes arts presentations for the purpose of bringing students and faculty to grow together as they listen to music, watch films and dramas and worship with different styles of music.
“If you just have one view all the time, you don’t learn to think, you don’t learn to grow and you don’t learn compassion,” Kinoshita said.
Kinoshita said he expects the conference will continue to grow, as well.
“As much as we have ideas and vision for the future, it’s still about coming back to the biblical message, and I’m committed to keep that the same,” Kinoshita said. “Regardless of the method, the message is still for us today, and it should be consistent with scripture.”