Westmont’s ninth annual “The Next Step” workshop

Megan Bowman, Staff Writer

Nine years ago, the Intercultural Programs at Westmont created a workshop to help encourage students to advocate for change, face issues of racial injustice and help minority groups.

This past week, students, faculty and staff had the chance to attend the week-long workshop called “The Next Step.” Although the event is traditionally held in person, this year, several events were held over Zoom for all. The webinars and discussion groups gave space for reflection and conversations about racial justice by focusing on the question: “What’s the Next Step for the Church towards racial justice and conciliation?”

The panelists for the week consisted of Dr. Vince Bantu, Joel Goza, Dr. Marcus Goodloe, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Lisa Fields and Dr. Michael O. Emerson. The diverse ethnic backgrounds provided broad viewpoints, giving a rich learning experience. 

Sam Stroming, a senior, believes events like these are important, especially for students at Westmont. Stroming said, “Taking time to engage in conversation about racial injustice in America today is essential since racism permeates every institution, and Westmont is no exception. Workshops like ‘The Next Step’ provide a brave space for education, listening and conversation.”

Starting on Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, attendees began the workshop with a full-day schedule of two webinars, a workshop with a variety of topics to choose from, a discussion group, and a question-and-answer session with Goza and Dr. Goodloe.

Jessica Yost, a senior, particularly enjoyed Goza’s talk on “Making an Anti-Racist America.” “He talked about how Jesus was the perfect image of goodness, but that goodness also involved justice, and I thought that was really powerful.”

This was Yost’s first year attending, but she wishes she had gone the past few years and encourages students to participate in this event in the future. “I think a really important step in becoming an anti-racist person is educating yourself, and it’s through educating yourself that you are able to have honest conversations and begin to take action.” She recommends this event to any student “who wants to live in a world where there is more love and justice.”

For students who did not attend the workshops, Westmont ensured that all students would get a glimpse of what was discussed through Wednesday’s chapel. On Jan. 20, David Bailey spoke on “why ethnic identity matters to your Christian call.” Bailey gave different examples from the Bible of people of different ethnicities spreading the good news of God. The chapel video reminded students that people from all ethnic backgrounds are called by God to become believers and be a part of the Great Commission. 

The week ended with discussion groups to allow attendees to process all they learned and to look forward to how they’ll use that knowledge in the future. 

Stroming expressed how this knowledge helps our community and why students should attend these events in the future: “In understanding and reacting to racial injustice in America, “The Next Step” meets you where you are at and pushes you to go further. It challenges you to question the policies maintaining oppression in your community and to advocate for change.”

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