Between January 28 and February 1, 2013, the Office of Community Engagement sponsored a focus week called BEYOND COLORBLIND to help start new conversations about race and culture on campus. The week was designed to help the campus community consider how our racial and cultural identities and experiences shape our views of ourselves, others, and God.
Together, we explored questions like:
To accompany the campus community through the week, the OCE invited three distinguished speakers: Dr. Richard Leo Twiss, Vince Bantu, and Dr. Soong-Chan Rah (biographies below). The week was packed with lectures and special events. Each speaker provided a Chapel address, visited classes, and spoke at a Faculty Forum. Each day of the week was bookended with morning prayer in the OCE office and evening student-led peer discussion groups in Jenks.
The closing student-led Convocation provided a joyful time for students to share their stories, tell a bit of what they had learned that week, and worship together. The week ended, but the campus conversation was just beginning.
Shortly after the week concluded, the campus mourned the unexpected death of Dr. Twiss. He had challenged the campus community through his Chapel address and formed strong bonds with Gordon students wrestling through issues of race and culture on campus. His joyful presence at the ALANA-sponsored “My Story” event was a particular gift to the students.
At the LEAD retreat in April, Jorge Rodriguez ’14 and Val Buchanan presented a video of Dr. Twiss made during his time on campus that shared more of his wisdom and gave student leaders an opportunity to remember his legacy.
Dr. Richard Twiss was also known as Taoyate Obnajin, which means "He Stands with His People.” We are deeply grateful that in the last weeks of his life, Richard stood with Gordon too.
Dr. Richard Twiss was a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He and his wife Katherine raised four sons in Vancouver, Washington. They co-founded Wiconi International, which he an served as president until his death. Dr. Twiss was first a husband, father and grandfather. As an educator, university professor, author and respected community leader, he was actively engaged in local community-building efforts in the Native American community in the Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon metropolitan areas. Additionally, he served on several national boards, spoke nationally and internationally, and founded an innovative internship program for young leaders, The Salmon Nation. He passed away on February 9, 2013.
Vince Bantu is a graduate student in Semitic and Egyptian languages at The Catholic University of America. He lives with his wife, Diana, and their daughters, Taina and Naniki, in Washington, D.C. where Vince and Diana pastor DC Shalom Church. Vince received his Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary in Church History and an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has served in urban, multi-ethnic pastoral ministry in Newark, New Jersey through World Impact, and at Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in Massachusetts. His primary interests include racial reconciliation, non-Western Christianity, and theological education in under-resourced communities.
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, and the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (IVP Books, 2009) and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Moody, 2010); he co-edited Honoring the Generations: Learning with Asian North American Congregations (Judson, 2012). He received his B.A. in political science and history/sociology from Columbia University; his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his Th.M. from Harvard University; and his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in theology at Duke University.
Dr. Rah serves on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), Evangelicals 4 Justice and the Catalyst Leadership Center. He was the founding senior pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context. He lives in Chicago with his wife Sue, a special education teacher, and their two children, Annah and Elijah.