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At Gordon College, we are committed to shalom—a right ordering of relationships and actions resulting in the affirmation of human dignity and the flourishing of community. We believe that human diversity as attested to in Scripture is one expressive element of shalom and is an essential component of a Christian learning community such as ours. We define this diversity as the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10), expressed through His image present in human beings at creation, and articulated in human heritages, cultures and histories. As a necessary part of this, we affirm the importance of diversity in our community for the following reasons:
Scripture indicates that the presence of those in a community with broad diverse experiences and expressions of humanity (arising out of diverse cultural, historical, and ethnic communities) is evidence of the kingdom and a reflection of its true nature. This is articulated, for example, in the inherent presence of diversity as defined above, the necessary interdependence of all of the members of God's kingdom as stated in
I Corinthians 12, and the eschatological vision of all persons before the throne of God in Revelation 7. Diversity also provides an opportunity to learn how to walk with others in a way that challenges presuppositions about how the world works and how God works in the world, and challenges us to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in our actions. We are not called to live according to the law (that is, by compulsion of outside structures) but by the Spirit (following the motivations of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us).
Therefore, diversity is required in order to properly fulfill our mission. Gordon College was founded as a missionary training institute with a global dimension to its mission. While the execution of this has been imperfect, and its intentionality regarding this dimension has varied over its history, our current context requires that we reinforce this missional aspect and find the best ways to honor it.
We believe the conversation around diversity draws attention to the ways in which we need to grow in our understanding of personhood and community, and to model it in the church and the greater society. This will be an ongoing process in light of our dependence on Scripture and the continually changing context in which the College exists and where it serves.
The journey to realize this vision of community is an arduous one, with many challenges and obstacles along the way. In considering this statement, we move towards a more expansive vision of community, one that offers a means of affirming the image of God in others and seeks the full expression of each other's humanity. With this in mind, we commit to the following.
Our commitment to shalom is linked to our mission: to graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide. Closely considered, it is connected to two important concepts: the image of God (Imago Dei) and the work of God (Missio Dei).
A. The commitment to shalom in developing men and women of intellectual maturity and Christian character: understanding diversity as a reflection of Imago Dei
At Gordon, we commit to:
Frame all discussions of identity initially out of the biblical reality of the Imago Dei, the fact that we are all created in God’s image, and as such are worthy of dignity and respect as persons. We are all made in the image of God, embodied in culture and communities, and God says that is good.
Have all our members contribute to the health and right functioning of this learning community. At Gordon, we are called to interdependence, consistent with the
Trinitarian One in whose image we are made. We intentionally acknowledge that by virtue of being made in God’s image, all our members have a role to play and a contribution to make.
Pay close attention to marginalized voices because their contributions are an essential part of our calling to become persons of intellectual maturity, of Christian character, committed to service and prepared for leadership worldwide.
B. The commitment to shalom as a learning community in forming lives committed to service and prepared for leadership worldwide: understanding diversity as action (Missio Dei)
At Gordon, we commit to:
Intentionally bring together Christian students, faculty, staff, trustees and guests from diverse contexts to become members of our community. The resulting richness strengthens and brings creativity to scholarship, teaching and learning, making our graduates better prepared for service and leadership worldwide.
Educate, serve and lead across human-made lines of division and separation imposed, in part, by our sinful human condition.
Nurture a diverse learning community that actively engages in acts of repentance, reconciliation and restoration.
We are under no illusion about becoming a perfect community, because of the fallen nature of humankind. But we are committed to an ongoing process that pursues a biblical vision of community and honors the image of God present in each person. In this community, Christ is the head by his sacrificial death on the cross, which has made relationship to God possible; interdependence is essential; and the Holy Spirit provides the ability and courage for ongoing reconciled relationships. These are the preconditions for shalom and the hope that we have not only for restoration within the Church, but for healing within the broader society.