Discussions on Race and Christianity
Just before spring break, a small group of Covenant students and staff members traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, to attend a discussion between the Rev. C. Edward Rhodes, II, of Mount Helm Baptist Church, and Dr. Anthony Bradley, associate professor of theology and ethics at The King’s College, on the future of Christianity in African American communities in light of the history of racism in the South. Other participants included Dr. Ligon Duncan, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, and Rev. Bobby Griffith, Jr., associate pastor of City Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City.
“The topic is fascinating and crucially important for the Church at large to learn about, so I wanted to go,” says David Vilches ’13, one of the students in attendance. “It was encouraging, influential, informative, and it stretched me.”
“It was kind of an historic moment, actually,” says Christiana Fitzpatrick, special programs and mentoring coordinator, who heard about the event and initiated the trip. She called the discussion “an honest, open conversation on races and their histories. This was a true sign of God’s grace and the movement of the Holy Spirit.”
Following the trip, a student panel discussion was held on Covenant’s campus, featuring five students, two of whom attended the event in Jackson. “They discussed the need to continue to address racism, as it often is seen as something in the past, but really is right below the surface and in our hearts,” says Fitzpatrick. “They were open in sharing their own experiences here at Covenant. Students in the audience also contributed with questions and their own thoughts and experiences.
“While conversations like these may not fully address the structural racism and power differentials that exist in our communities, it's always good for students to talk with each other, to feel free to ask questions, to address the issues they see as important. I am always so impressed with our students and their ability to apply a redemptive perspective to issues as complex and challenging as racism in the Christian community.”