Whether it’s thoughts on race, diversity, gender or social justice, students and Abilenians have the opportunity to express their opinions through United by Faith’s artistic challenge, A Change is Gonna Come; challenge entries are due March 31.
The challenge is intended to “encourage growing closer to Christ through the understanding, appreciation and encouragement of our rich racial, gender and cultural diversity,” according to UBF’s Web site, www.unitedbyfaithabilene.com.
Tressie Lee, freelance web and graphic designer and member of UBF, said the event was fueled largely by Tim Wise’s visit to campus, which UBF helped orchestrate. UBF hopes to explore how attendees were impacted by his lecture regarding race, diversity, gender and social issues.
“It’s more of a reflection period to creatively express the way it made you feel,” Lee said. “The conversations I’ve had after with students and professors and just hearing the thoughts they had brings about such good and healthy conversation.”
UBF is a local organization of about 30-40 members whose primary goal is “to have an environment where conversations are encouraged that typically don’t happen around the dinner table,” said Dennis Marquardt, educational technology manager and member of UBF. “It’s grassroots, and it’s not exclusive. Anyone who has expressed interest and wants to be part of a diverse community is welcome here.”
Marquardt said although UBF is about 99.9 percent ACU faculty, students and staff, it is open to the community. Members are eager to provide a place for open conversation around the dinner table once a month. Meetings include conversation, spending time in prayer, sharing ideas about what the group can bring to the community and planning for events such as A Change is Gonna Come challenge.
Marquardt said the contest’s name came from a song by Sam Cooke, a gospel, R&B and soul singer from the 1950s and 60s, called A Change is Gonna Come. In the song, Cooke sings: “Oh, there have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long, but now I think I’m able to carry on. It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come, oh, yes it will.”
George Pendergrass, director for the Office of Multicultural Enrichment, covered the song, which encouraged members to ask Abilenians and students to think about changes that can be made now, Marquardt said.
“Artistically, people can express things in a way that can be more provocative than verbally, and we’re encouraging people to write a song, paint a picture, write poetry or any number of things,” he said.
Those interested can submit pieces to their choice of three challenges: written, visual or auditory, according to the Web site. Entries must be e-mailed to email@example.com by March 31. Winners will receive a Nintento Wii, an iPod Shuffle or a Grace Museum family membership.
Lee said entries are trickling in, mostly poems, and she hopes to see more from everyone who is inspired by these issues.
Marquardt said UBF will likely arrange a Chapel to announce winners during the first week of April, although plans have not been confirmed, but he encourages students and Abilenians to take the opportunity to express ideas in a nonthreatening, artistic way.
“The ACU environment has always been a place where respectful conversations are encouraged, and I think as Christians, we’re called to talk about difficult issues,” he said. “We don’t have to be on the same page, but we need to be able to talk about it because no change can happen when you pretend nothing is wrong.”