We live in profoundly troubling times. As I have watched in horror the recent news related to the senseless and violent killings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, I have been reminded of the deep-seated injustices, racism, and evil that surround us. We know the names and the stories of those two people, but do not know the names or have forgotten the stories of so many others who have lost their lives as a result of the wickedness, fear, and hatred of racism.
As followers of Jesus, we at Rochester University are committed to love, to justice, to peace, and to mercy. Following the example of Jesus, we are committed to loving and valuing every human as a bearer of the image of God. Also consistent with that example, we are dedicated to standing with the oppressed and marginalized, contending for justice, and doing all in our power to create a welcoming, loving, and peaceful space for all of God’s children. The time for drastic change in our society is long overdue. Rochester University is committed to fighting for that change. A history of over four centuries of racism is the great cancer eating away at the heart of our country. White supremacy and white privilege are two of the “principalities and powers” with which the followers of Jesus are at war. At Rochester University, we unabashedly declare our opposition to those evil forces.
The commission of Jesus is clear. In these times, a Christian university must become aggressively anti-racist. For many of us, and starting with me, the first step must be a ruthless and ongoing self-examination of our own racism. But, that can only be the beginning. True believers act; they don’t stop at self-examination. We must repent of our racism and act strongly against it, wherever we find it. At Rochester University, we declare our commitment to do just that. May God help us.