Published on December 7, 2016 by Philip Poole  
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by Olivia Halverson 

Student leaders from across Samford University’s campus recently gathered for a multi-ethnic leadership training hosted by ReNew Partnerships, an organization with a mission to foster ethnic unity in the body of Christ. Since 2006, ReNew Partnerships has provided training programs for leaders of churches, colleges and ministries that seek to grow in cross-cultural competence. The program equips leaders with motivation, knowledge and skills that enable them to create positive change in their organization. 

Students represented leadership from Diversity Ambassadors, greek life chapters, Student Government Association, Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) and others. These groups share a common goal of building healthy, multi-ethnic organizations. Prior to the conference, students were asked to prayerfully prepare for the training and to consider goals they would like to see accomplished within their organizations. 

Chad Brennan and Michaela Gregory, staff from ReNew Partnerships, facilitated the training that took place over a two-day period. Students sat around intermingled tables, allowing them to interact with students representing different campus organizations from their own. 

Throughout the training, students engaged with scripture passages that exemplified Jesus’ servant leadership and his ability to unite diverse peoples. The training also included videos, exercises and dialogue that allowed students to practically apply their skills. The scripture-led training shed a new light on approaching topics of race, diversity and inclusion. 

Maria Aguilera, a representative for MAC, Student Judiciary Council and Alpha Delta Pi sorority said, “I really enjoyed this event because it approached diversity and understanding from a biblical perspective, and taught us practical ways to approach race and ethnicity problems on campus.” 

The discussions of scripture and faith-based leadership gave trainees a common foundation from which they were able to have conversations with each other about race and ethnicity education specific to Samford. Courtney Jenkins, a representative of Diversity Ambassadors and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. said, “It’s crucial to our growth and development as a university to be uncomfortable and have these types of conversations with action to follow up.” 

From this training, students learned the value of conversations, the power of relationships and the necessity of intentionality. SGA chaplain John Kegley said, “ReNew was an incredibly insightful experience. It provided me with a biblical understanding for how to engage and partner with people of different ethnicities, cultures and races.” 

Brittany Morgan from MAC said, “I appreciate having a new outlook and perspective of multicultural facets of life in relation to the Bible.” 

Olivia Halverson is press secretary for the Samford Student Government Association and reported on this event for the Division of Marketing and Communication.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.