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Corey's Corner: multi-ethnic programs at Biola University

On Easter Sunday, I was in Memphis, Tenn., speaking at Fellowship Memphis. Pastored by Talbot grad, Bryan Loritts — who also serves on Biola’s Board of Trustees — Fellowship Memphis is one of the most profoundly multi-ethnic churches I’ve ever attended. The Easter Service was held in the Cannon Center, downtown and a few blocks from the Mississippi River. It was also a short walk from the National Civil Rights Museum, located on the site of the Lorraine Motel. I took that walk later on Easter, stopping to reflect on what happened 46 years ago on the balcony of this motel’s room 306 where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

On the one hand, I was walking through the city where King was killed nearly a half century ago. On the other hand, I was preaching at a pulpit where black and white worship as one. Though we have a long way still to go in racial reconciliation, I have seen how far we’ve come. It seemed so right to be standing on the stage with an African-American pastor, a Columbian guitarist, a Nigerian song leader and several women. The worship was beautiful, not simply because of the quality of the musicians or the voices of the several thousand in the congregation. It was beautiful because in a heavenly way the people of God from diverse backgrounds gathered on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrected and exalted Christ.

As I returned to Biola the next day, the inspiration lingered from what I saw and experienced in that truly multi-ethnic Memphis church. I began reading that weekend a new book edited by Pastor Loritts, “Letters to a Birmingham Jail.”  It’s written by Christians from a range of ethnicities and ages, and it compels the reader to lift high the gospel calling of diversity, of justice. Heaven will look a lot more like Fellowship Memphis than most churches in America today. I want Biola to look this way too.

At Biola, one step we have taken in this direction is the construction of the Mosaic Cultural Center in the heart of campus. One year ago we celebrated its opening, and I look forward to the day when it no longer feels new but is a natural fixture of our campus life. We are getting there. May this space, this center, be a nurturing ground for many to grow to become women and men of influence and deep convictions for justice, mercy and humility.

As a newcomer nearly seven years ago, I sensed at Biola a desire to understand God’s view of the world in all its breadth. I still stand on what I said when I first arrived, challenging myself and challenging all of us to embrace our diversity as a gift from God.

This month, I challenge students to learn more about Asian Pacific American Heritage through activities and events throughout May.

May we celebrate the multi-ethnic mosaic of this campus, and may we increasingly be a community defined by the image of God that is beautifully formed in each of us.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Erick Roebuck

    This makes me happy to see my alma mater at the forefront of biblical diversity in the CCCU! May 1, 2014

  2. Josh Kristianto

    Sadly, I don't think most students will read this article. :( May 3, 2014

  3. Nancy Davong

    Asian Pacific Heritage Month on Biola's Campus

    May 3, 2014

  4. John Felix

    That's great. I still love Biola. (class of 1997, SICS) May 15, 2014

  5. Gary C. Stafford

    It is always great to hear what is going on with alums. I am of the class of 1961. Our first daughter Brooke (Biola '78 or '79) was born the day before I started my college studies at Westmont. I transferred to BIOLA because of the $8. per unit cost. Our second daughter, Cindy, was born my first Jr. year. A year later #3 daughter (Robin, Biola '81) was born. Colleen came along 7 months after graduation. Grandson Kyle Morgan attended Biola for a year or two. His older brother, Grant, graduated from Biola with the class of 2013. He and his wife are currently serving the New Life Church of Sweeden in the area of music and graphic arts.

    I was a navy veteran and was 27 when I graduated with a Dr. James O. Henry History degree. I pastored for 19 years (Ev. Free) and taught both public school and Christian. I retired in 2005 from Woodcrest Christian School in Riverside, CA. I was Vice Principal and Counselor. At age 80 I am still subbing at three Christian schools.

    Having a great life with my wife of 59 years, Mary Lou. We live in Sun City, CA. May 16, 2014

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