Spearheaded by the Lake Union Conference Education director Linda Fuchs, an invitation was extended to Dr. Heather Thompson-Day to share on this timely subject with the Lake Union Education team. Dr. Day’s presentation was intended to bring awareness to how the environment of one’s upbringing has the potential for defining our adulthood connections and perspectives of people. She reminded the Education team that we are who we are by virtue of the defined picture of our world, our bubble in which we existed. Dr. Day charged the Education team to personally increase their individual diverse cultural understanding and connections to fully realize the richness and beauty inherent in humanity’s diversity.
Dr. Ruth Horton, associate Education director, shared with the Michigan Conference teachers at their August Convention on the topic, “Promises to Keep. . . Justice, Equity, Love: The Debt Owed Every Student.” Attendees reviewed the societal shifts and realities emerging out of the diaspora — the four great migrations, historical context generating the cultural milieu from which students, their parents and grandparents emerged.
Additionally, Dr. Horton provided a snapshot of the response of the Seventh-day Adventist Church during that critical time in our church’s history; explored the notion of possible blind spots and unconscious biases that can be manifested in the school and classroom settings; and engaged in identifying and suggesting approaches to effectively teach both homogeneous and diverse student populations.
The final segment of this two-hour forum allowed for further reflection on the diverse perspectives of what is taught and how the content is delivered; explored ways educators can prepare students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to participate in a diverse community and world.
Lastly, attendees were encouraged to reflect on how they would safely facilitate and manage differences of students’ opinions in the classroom setting while simultaneously working productively alongside parents and school boards in these matters. In essence, Dr. Horton encouraged educators to emulate the example of our Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, in matters of justice, equity and love. It’s a debt owed to our students.
Moving forward, as the official birthplace of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and stewards of the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus Christ has committed into our hands to reconcile man to both God and each other, we are committed to be conduits of Christ-like behavior and catalysts for change as we pray regularly and take actions to undergird three Lake Union executive committee strategies of leadership development, discipleship training and starting a movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches and communities in this quinquennium. We will continue to engage the Adventist faith community by continuing to resource our local conferences and schools, and engaging and encouraging our health systems to continue to hire employees of diverse backgrounds, especially those persons of African descent who are sparsely represented at the leadership level of our multiple health systems.
Maurice R. Valentine
Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist