by Abby Totten, Student Public Relations Writer
Amidst racial tensions that continue to plague our culture, Cedarville University’s Kingdom Diversity Advisory Council is seeking to spark conversations on campus that instill a greater understanding of what the Bible says about race and diversity. Through a strategic book club initiative, Cedarville students now have a springboard from which to launch into these difficult conversations.
Dr. Kevin Jones, dean of the school of education, and Carolyn Barnett, associate professor of nursing, lead separate groups of students through books like “Talk about Race: Gospel Hope for Hard Conversations,” by Isaac Adams and Jones’ book, a biography on Olympic medalist Jesse Owens, that address various race-related topics. Jones and Barnett provide a safe atmosphere where students can ask questions and learn about topics like diversity, race and unity.
“Our meetings are not just about reading a book,” said Barnett. “We have become more than a book club; we have developed deep cross-cultural friendships.”
Jayla Martin, a sophomore nursing student from Dayton, Ohio, has felt supported as a member of the kingdom diversity book club.
“My classmates have not only shown that they care about these topics through their words, but they have also shown it through their actions as well,” said Martin. “What I love most about this book club is that I am challenged to walk alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ, talking about our struggles and pointing each other to Christ.”
Outside of weekly meetings, Barnett’s group have met three times for weekend fellowship events, including watching movies. The movies have included “Till,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Just Mercy,” sparking discussion amongst the group.
Noah Tang, a second-year graduate student studying biblical leadership from Florham Park, New Jersey is also a member of Barnett’s book club.
Jones’ book on Owens provides perspective into the athlete’s life and the injustices he experienced.
“I wrote this book so that we wouldn’t forget this man,” said Jones. “In our discussions, this serves as a reminder that there’s a lot of work to do and it can be an intimate, slow process.” This book has helped students rightly remember injustices and how Christians are called to build up God’s diverse body of believers.
The Kingdom Diversity Book Club is just one effort Cedarville is making to encourage healthy conversations about race. This past fall, the history and government department launched the Civil Rights Bus Tour, a class that gives students a glimpse into civil rights America as it was in the 1960s.
Esther Fultz, a junior social work major from Springfield, Ohio, has seen the importance of implementing these conversations.
“I have grown in my ability to understand and celebrate the differences created within the body of Christ and have been reminded of the unity and identity that all believers can find in Christ,” said Fultz. “Book club has provided me with practical ways that I can pursue unity and better live out Christ's love in the way that I interact with my brothers and sisters in Christ.”Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,082 undergraduate, graduate, and dual-enrollment high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.