Shorter became a part of my life in 1977, when I began working in the Registrar’s Office. It was a great place to work because there was a feeling of family, not only with the faculty and staff but also with the students. Of course there were fewer students at the time. I watched as the college grew in number of students and faculty/staff.
I can remember that after I started to work there, the rumblings of the fundamentalist movement started to be heard. I was not that familiar with what they were talking about due to being brought up in a Methodist family. I had recently joined the Baptist faith and saw there were differences in the governing body but the Christian love was still the same. According to the Bible, God intended for His love to reach out to all of His human creation. We read in Acts 10:44-45 that while Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. It goes on to say that all the circumcised believers who came with Peter were astonished that the Holy Spirit had been poured out to the Gentiles. Because God created and loved us He intended for all of us to work together to spread His love and not segregate to only one group that has total knowledge of His word. Where would we be if God had not given the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles?
Shorter College/University has been a Christian centered institution from the very beginning. It has been open to many different denominations. We had many international students while I was there who had very different thinking. These differences were accepted, and we learned from each other.
What bothers me most of all is the faculty/staff being forced to sign the personal faith statement or lose their jobs. I question how a group that is pushing for a Christian centered institution is interpreting the passages in the book of Acts?
Christian love does not demand that someone become something they are not but is a love that is open to overcoming cultural, institutional and even supposedly biblical prejudices. Our mission in life should be to intentionally work to overcome our prejudices, a work worth doing, that God’s Spirit will help us to accomplish. We need to become more inclusive and accept Christ’s command to show inclusive love.
My prayer is that God will open the eyes of the current administration/trustees to see what Shorter College/University has been through the years: an institution of learning with Christian based ideals. A place where students were given the freedom to learn without being restricted by certain regulations put forth by trustees and administration. How can we minister to those who do not know about God’s love and forgiveness if our education is limited to just what a certain group interprets the message of God to be? After all, Jesus’ command is to go forth and bring all to Him.
Are we going to let the dedication of previous faculty and staff be forgotten and the Shorter that we have all loved and admired be for naught? I hope not. Our city, state, and nation continue to need young men and women who have received a well rounded education like the many previous alumni.