Goals for Interculturality and Race
The heinous death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has angered and saddened us here in the School of Theology and Seminary. We, as a Roman Catholic and Benedictine institution, stand with those who are calling out for fundamental change not only within the police departments of our nation but in American life more broadly. We recognize that this solidarity with our African American sisters and brothers will require change on our part. We must become more aware of how a long-standing racist culture (America’s “original sin”) privileges whiteness and leads us the privileged to be slow to object openly to such violations of God-given dignity and human rights. Listening to the voices of people of color will alert us to the biases and prejudices that keep us from taking concrete steps to bring about change. In order to do this listening better, we commit ourselves to examine our own attitudes, practices, policies, and structures with the help of our students and others in the church and the public whom we are committed to serve. This transformation of ourselves and our institutional culture demands that we take steps day-after-day in a conversion of life.
For steps we are taking in this process of conversion, please see below
Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary (SOT/Sem) commits itself to intensifying current efforts and identifying new ways to fight racism including transformational change in its curriculum, faculty and staff, student life, and practice of worship. Drawing on our Roman Catholic and Benedictine identity, we depend upon God’s grace in this work. The first word of the Rule of Saint Benedict is “listen with the ear of your heart,” ( obsculta); in listening to others we seek the wisdom of those yearning for justice, with whom we stand in solidarity.
We hope and strive for a fuller manifestation of the Kingdom of God that includes and honors communion among diverse peoples and races while acknowledging those places where we have failed to respond to God’s call. As evidence of our commitment, the School of Theology and Seminary comprehensively commits to intercultural humility and an anti-racist culture.
We will accelerate already-existing initiatives including:
- Lead and support the School of Theology and Seminary Intercultural Taskforce in its comprehensive review of curriculum, formation, personnel, student life, and worship for growth in intercultural competency; in light of current events, we will give particular focus to questions of race and privilege.
- Engage our 2020-2022 Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion Grant on “White Privilege and Theological Pedagogy.” Working with a consulting scholar with expertise in theology and anti-racist pedagogy, exploring related texts, and developing individual pilot projects, theology faculty will learn about and experiment with pedagogical practices that create supportive, anti-racist teaching environments for theological education. (read more)
- Reflect critically on results and recommendations related to the Intercultural Development Inventory to cultivate greater intercultural agility that moves faculty, staff, and students from a baseline of “minimization” to a deeper and more complete “adaptation.”
- Honor and learn from student insights in the annual SOT/Sem Community Life survey to promote greater awareness of intercultural, racial, and justice initiatives in the School of Theology and Seminary’s student and institutional life.
- Support training that is drawn from the Vital Worship Grant to advance interculturally sensitive liturgical and worship practices aimed at preparing ministers for worship in diverse settings.
We commit ourselves to long-term and transformational goals including:
- Building an institutional culture that is interculturally agile and anti-racist in areas including curriculum, student life, worship, and personnel.
- Systematically and comprehensively reviewing and updating curricula (including texts) and pedagogies from the perspectives of culture, race, and privilege.
- Implementing formation and programming for anti-racist and intercultural ministry.
- Promoting racial diversity in all hiring processes and decisions including the regular use of a search advocate.
- Regularly assessing institutional progress in these long-term goals, seeking accountability from others, and continually listening to re-evaluate needs and adjust goals.
Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary does its work in community, with a commitment to “conversion of life” ( conversatio morum). With that in mind, we invite your feedback, responses, or suggestions at any time. We hope that alums and friends of the SOT/Sem can accompany us on this journey.
Please provide your feedback, responses, or suggestions in the following form: which will be reviewed by the Dean’s Office and the SOT/Sem Intercultural Taskforce: click here to access the form now.