Addressing Racial Injustice in Our Community

The sin of racism continues to plague the nation and our community. Our Black brothers and sisters here at George Fox and in our country are suffering, and we have an obligation not only to acknowledge their pain and the structures and policies that have caused it, but to take action to address these issues. Black lives absolutely matter to Christ and Black lives absolutely matter to George Fox University.

Current Work

We will continue the following ongoing work. This is far from a comprehensive list, but provides some highlights:

  • We will continue our search advocate training and HR protocol changes which have helped increase our numbers of employees of color. We realize there is still much work to do, but by this fall we will have the most diverse  leadership team in our history. 
  • We will continue to invest in the  Act Six urban leadership program, which has provided full-tuition, full-need scholarships to more than 100 graduates. 
  • We will continue the  LEAD Mentor program where first-year students of color are paired and mentored by junior and senior students of color.
  • We will continue to fund and host the  Voices Project, a student multicultural leadership conference. 
  • We will continue to financially support sending students and employees to the  Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation (SCORR).
  • We will continue our annual diversity training for faculty and staff.

We Understand that Actions and Change Are Required

The university has been at this work for many years, and we acknowledge we've had failures alongside our successes. Work we said was a priority was not always treated as such. As a community, we own that. We must do better.

New Diversity Initiatives (Summer 2020)

Below are several highlights. You can read the entire plan here.

Campus Culture

We will actively cultivate a climate that encourages students, faculty and staff to have difficult conversations that recognize each individual’s God-given worth. The culture should be characterized by vulnerability, humility, trust, honesty and grace. To this end:

  • We will provide all employees with a copy of  Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion: How the Bible is Good News for People of Color   and bring its author,  Dr. Antipas Harris , president and dean of T.D. Jakes Divinity School, to co-lead a discussion series on campus with  Dr. MaryKate Morse , dean of Portland Seminary. Additionally, we will engage employees in small-group discussions on racial issues.
  • We will create learning opportunities to aid professors and staff in developing confidence and skill in navigating conversations about race in the classroom and among employees in general conversation. Avenues will be provided for common reading and dialogue to further understanding of race and cultural issues in American culture. Pre-tests and post-tests will be used to examine growth of the community over time.
  • The faculty will develop expected student learning outcomes during the 2020-21 academic year to be included throughout the curriculum of the university – especially in the undergraduate program – to address issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Community and Police Engagement

We will collaborate with Newberg city officials to develop a community that embraces diverse views and people. In addition to encouraging key staff to serve on city committees in service of a diverse community, we will identify student representatives to also serve the community and specifically engage with the police force to build understanding and more effective relationships. We already have a commitment from Newberg’s mayor to assist our students of color in sharing their experiences with the city’s police force.

Board of Trustees

Acknowledging we need greater diversity of perspective in our governing body, we will work to recruit three persons of color to fill open positions on the university’s board of trustees.

Presidential Speaker Series

We will bring diverse voices to campus through the  Presidential Speaker Series .

Contributing to the Conversation

Keith Depsey video

Dr. Keith Dempsey


Keith spoke with KGW-TV and offered guidance for white individuals on how best to reach out to friends, neighbors and colleagues who are Black.

Carol Parker Walsh video

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

IDEA Center

Carol shared three pieces of anti-racist work that can be done in the workplace with KATU-TV.

Mark Strong video

Things are not fine

Dr. Mark Strong

Mark Strong, pastor of Life Change Church and a member of our Portland Seminary regents, shares a message on how the white community can respond to racial injustice.

Theological Statement

Theological Mandate

George Fox University is a Christ-centered institution that values diversity as an essential dimension of what it means to be human. As a community we believe that racism and other forms of division are destructive to redemptive community. Scripture is clear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit following the resurrection of Jesus Christ enacts a form of community that at once embraces and transcends our differences. In Jesus Christ our unique, individual identities are both preserved and liberated to engage in redemptive community and in the reconciling work of Christ in the world. We believe that God values each of us in our uniqueness. Therefore we seek to be a community that celebrates the uniqueness of each of its members, including one’s race and ethnicity.

We also acknowledge that our attempts to honor diversity in the present time arise from the recognition that we have sometimes failed to do this as well as we should have in the past. But God, through grace, reaches out to each new generation of human beings and attempts to show us the light of truth. We grasp pieces of this truth but miss others. Our knowledge is partial and incomplete (1 Corinthians 13:9). God lovingly prods us and shows us what we are capable of seeing, and we do our best (intermittently) to respond to the light that we can see. Yet we know from our own history and from the scriptural record of God’s relationships with human beings that we also miss the mark in some important ways.

Here we present a theological basis for our commitment to diversity – a statement that grapples honestly with both the high points and low points of our Quaker heritage and with the ambiguities regarding racial and ethnic diversity in Scripture.

Theology of Racial and Ethnic Diversity