Diversity and racial reconciliation are words recently heard in many conversations, no matter your background. Glen Kinoshita, the director of Biola’s multi-ethnic programs and development, founded the Student Council On Racial Reconciliation (SCORR) conference 16 years ago, with hopes of continued fostering of reconciliation.

Each year, the multi-ethnic department staff and volunteers plan and prepare for the conference under the leadership of Kinoshita. This year, the theme was “A House of Prayer for All Peoples,” founded on the Scripture Isaiah 56:7. The common question posed in every session and workshop was, “How might our Christian colleges/universities reflect this house of God, a house for all peoples?” according to the SCORR 2012 website.

“As you grow in your diversity process, it’s just like any other developmental process,” Kinoshita said. “You go through sequential stages. You learn more, you connect with others, [and] then you connect with deeper material. The challenge is that we have to try to plan sessions that address the different levels of understanding and development.”

Ivan Chung, Biola’s director of international student services, is thankful to be a part of this conference that affirms God and the Gospel.

“Reconciliation is ultimately loving God and loving your neighbor,” Chung said. “Reconciling means that there was once what the Bible calls enmity or hatred. But what did Christ do? He reconciled us to himself and to our neighbor.”

Hosting more than 100 visitors — including students, staff and faculty — from Westmont College, George Fox University, Moody Bible Institute, Simpson University, Azusa Pacific University, Fresno Pacific University and Cedarville University, making this year’s conference one of the largest yet.

“We were just looking for a conference on racial reconciliation to take some of our student leaders to that would give us a different perspective from what we’ve typically gotten in the mid-west,” said Justin Spann, director of worship ministries at Cedarville University. “It’s giving us exposure to cultural groups that aren’t that prevalent in the mid-west.”

The conference commenced on Friday, Feb. 24 with worship through music and dance. Ray Bakke, the keynote speaker, is a leader in urban ministry development in various cities throughout the world. He has lived in Chicago for most of his life and served as chancellor, distinguished professor of global urban ministry and member of the board of regents at Bakke Graduate University until Dec. 31, 2011.

“Healing and repairing can only happen if it follows a greater understanding of one another and ourselves,” Chung said.

Saturday morning brought Latino-inspired creativity to the stage with a theatrical presentation by Will and Company, a nonprofit theatre ensemble based in Los Angeles.

Performing the standing ovation-worthy Portraits of Courage: Latinos Shaping a Nation, one of Will and Company’s newest performances written by Colin Cox, the ensemble showcased six Latino men and women who were greatly influential in shaping America.

The two performers acted in facets ranging from an undocumented migrant worker to a civil rights activist fighting for love. Covering issues from interracial marriage, to underpaid migrant workers, the depth of Latino influence was seen clearly.

Throughout both Friday and Saturday, students had various workshops to attend including sessions on ethnic identity development, building bridges between the local and global, race and popular culture and Ubuntu theology, reconciliation, and diversity.

Saturday afternoon, students from Azusa Pacific University, Cedarville University and Westmont College led all in attendance in diverse worship through music and dance.

Closing the conference on Saturday evening was Global Rhythms featuring Koshin Taiko. This was a greatly anticipated performance.

Reporting contributed by Lena Smith and Mark Nesbitt.

Written by Abbey Bennett, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.