For years, diversity has been a buzzword in many areas of American culture, including education. At Southwest Christian School (SCS), we feel called to teach our students about diversity through the lens of Christ. Based on scripture, we know that God created diversity for a purpose, specifically that of getting to know him and serve him deeper. Therefore, we want to be a school that is Biblically diverse with a Kingdom approach to differences. We want to be a community that glorifies God at our school and beyond by the way we interact with diverse people and ideas. Our school has made Biblical Diversity a priority, and we are making moves to become a more diverse school.
To enact this priority, SCS established a Kingdom Diversity Committee. This committee impacts various areas of the school; one area of opportunity that was identified early on (and one area that will hopefully be beneficial for you to assess at your institution) was that of chapel. The chapel suggestions mentioned below are things we are currently doing and things we are planning to do as a school.
At SCS we have an all-school chapel once a week, led by our Spiritual Life Director and our student-led praise band. Typically, our chapel format includes prayer, the pledge of allegiance, praise and worship, and a message. Normally, teachers in our Bible department, other school staff, or local youth pastors speak at our chapels. While it is oftentimes easy to continue doing what has always been done, the Kingdom Diversity Committee has discussed new ways for our chapels to showcase the beautiful diversity that God has created.
Going forward, we are committed to intentionally seeking out and inviting Christian leaders of color and from diverse ethnic backgrounds to speak in our chapels. Studies show that not only do students of color learn best in environments that include teachers and leaders who look like them, but we know it is also important for all our students to hear from people bringing a range of perspectives and experiences to the table.
Another way we can celebrate diversity is in our understanding that worship styles are oftentimes created by culture. In order to diversify worship while staying true to the heart behind our praise, we plan to incorporate different genres of music. This new plan will be led by our current praise band or by guest groups.
Chapel is also a great time to celebrate as a corporate body the contributions that varied cultures have made to our country and community. Currently, we have a chapel recognizing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During Black History Month, adult speakers, along with students who volunteer to speak, share not only on MLK, but also on other Black individuals who have been inspirational. In the beginning, only our black students spoke, but there is now a diversity of students presenting on the importance of Black History to them. Our next step in chapel is to recognize the celebrations of cultures represented at our school, such as Hispanic Heritage month (September 15th-October 15th in 2020) and Chinese New Year (Friday, February 12th, 2021).
Chapel is a great opportunity to celebrate the mosaic of human culture. Although we are all different in many ways, we are all created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). My goal for our chapels is to replicate the beautiful picture described in Revelation 7:9-10:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
My hope is that what we have been doing at SCS will inspire you to look at your programs and events to imagine how diversity can become part of the fabric of your school.
This article is part of a series on diversity in the Christian school.