Dear Calvin Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We wish you all a Happy New Year this January and pray daily for our students, faculty, and staff who are travelling and learning around the world and here in Grand Rapids. Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, higher education institutions founded by immigrants, are composed of students, faculty, and staff from more than 60 nations. While 600 of us may claim citizenship in another country, we are all prime citizens of the Kingdom of God and share in a brotherhood and sisterhood that transcends all borders. It is for this reason, this love for our brothers and sisters, that we are deeply troubled and offended by the disparaging comments attributed to the President of the United States in recent days about people who come from Africa, Haiti, and Latin America. These comments sow fear and hatred in our country, and they are wrong. More than 150 members of our community come from these countries, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This response is in no way political. It is in every way biblical. As members of the Calvin community, it is our Christian duty and responsibility to separate ourselves from racist and hateful remarks and sentiments. The world cannot be confused about what we believe. As Christians, we are called to support and promote the well-being of every member of our community and our society regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin. We protect and defend the inviolable dignity of all people. It is our joy to ensure that every person who lives, learns, or works at Calvin knows that they are full participants in our respective missions. When we live according to these responsibilities and duties with “gentleness born of wisdom from above,” (James 3:13) we bear witness to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Monday, we celebrate the life of a follower of Jesus who lived out this call to confront racism and injustice with the strength to love. The vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., articulated in James 3:18, was a “harvest of righteousness sown in peace for those who make peace.” As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, we remember the contributions of a citizen of the United States who understood his prime citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Dr. King stood against evil and racism because he was a follower of Jesus.
We have the privilege of doing the same.
Following Jesus together,
Michael Le Roy Jul Medenblik
Calvin College Calvin Theological Seminary