Our second day at MidAmerica Nazarene picked up right where the first left off. We were treated to breakfast in the student center with our hosts and a number of other MNU students came in to join us. Afterwards we broke up to deliver presentations to classrooms and stayed in the library to talk with students who didn’t have class. The conversations gradually became more and more serious. I found it to be a terrific mix. Students wanted to get to know us as individuals but at the same time weren’t afraid of asking tough questions. We were able to challenge each other and I think everyone walked away from the experience enriched.
Before my group began our Progressive Theology presentation the professors began by announcing his class had been studying progressive theology through the four foundations of theology: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. That was exactly our approach to the presentation! We were able to finish our presentation before the class period ended and fielded questions and concerns from the students. A few hung back afterwards to continue the discussions. One male student told Aaron that our presentation had totally changed the way he thought about homosexuality, that it forced him to throw out all of his preconceived notions about gay people, and think of the GLBT community in a new way.
As our visit to campus wrapped up, the key administrators met with us for debriefing. We shared our thoughts and experiences and offered suggestions on where to go from here. The common consensus amongst the Equality Riders was that MidAmerica Nazarene had modeled a Christlike response to outsiders. They didn’t have to abandon everything they believe in order to listen a viewpoint different from their own.
The MNU pastor thanked us for coming to campus, for pressing these issues, for making the students and administrators examine and develop their faith. They conceded that they might need to take a look at the wording of their policy to determine its appropriateness. We urged them to continue this conversation on their campus after we leave and to continue this conversation with us. I’m hopeful that they will!
And now… off to Denver