Minnehaha Academy is committed to fostering an environment that exemplifies racial harmony and peace fueled by our love for Christ and one another. We desire to be a model of God's beloved community, living out the belief of the inherent honor and dignity of each individual as an image bearer of God.
- We welcome and embrace the wonderful diversity found in God’s kingdom.
- We celebrate the uniqueness of individuals and cultures, as we strive toward inclusiveness that Christ demonstrated.
- We prepare students to be bridge builders and peace makers.
We come from different ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds. We are united as a faith community in our relationship with God. We believe that we that we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, we strive to maintain a community that welcomes and embraces the wonderful diversity found in God's Kingdom.
"At every level, students witness the beautiful mosaic that is the kingdom of God through literature, speakers, worship leaders, and community connections. The nationally recognized ethnic heritage months are used as a guide for acknowledging the diversity in our school community. " - Paulita Todhunter, Diversity Director
Students of color make up 38% of our student body. We continue to seek a balanced representation of students from many cultures. We offer students a variety of opportunities to explore their spiritual and cultural identity. One way we do this is through grade-level groups that gather once or twice per month. These groups are organized by our Diversity Director and are open for students in Middle and High School.
BIPOC Affinity Group (Middle and High School)
This affinity group for BIPOC students (black, indigenous, and people of color) is designed to explore spiritual and cultural identity. There will be opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn more about the contributions of notable people of color in history and the present day.
The group's purpose is to provide another space for support for students of color to flourish. This affinity group is a part of maintaining a welcoming environment as outlined in the Minnehaha Diversity Plan and a commitment to our values of a Caring Community, Cultivating Potential, and being distinctly Christian.
Diversity Club (High School)
Our Diversity Club is designed for all students who want to learn more about the cultures and ethnic perspectives in our school and beyond. Students also explore and share their heritage. This group also helps to maintain a welcoming environment as outlined in the Minnehaha Diversity Plan and a commitment to our values of being a Caring Community, Cultivating Potential, and Distinctively Christian.
Becoming God's Beloved Community
The work in becoming a model of God’s beloved community transforming the world must be rooted in living out the belief in the inherent honor and dignity of each individual as an image bearer of God. Moreover, as Minnehaha’s mission intersects with God’s ministry of reconciliation, bringing people to God through Christ, and neighbors closer to one another, Minnehaha becomes a beloved and blessed community where students thrive. To diminish painful divides that threaten to dim the light of Minnehaha’s ministry and the longing for unity, our effort necessitates mutual commitment to fervent prayer, courageous conversations, listening with humility, and a desire for personal and community growth.
As a ministry of the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), Minnehaha Academy benefits from the leadership, rich resources, and fruit of the ECC’s ministry over many decades in racial reconciliation and righteousness. Summarized below is the ECC’s description of racial righteousness, which was formally adopted in 2008.
The ECC and Racial Righteousness
- All people are created in the image of God; however, our perception of the image of God in others has often been deeply distorted by divisions between people along racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural lines.
- God reconciled us through Christ and gave us, as Christ’s ambassadors, the comprehensive ministry of reconciliation through which God appeals to us to pursue righteousness.
- Pursuing righteousness is about truth-telling and acknowledging and challenging systemic and individual sins that cause or lead to oppression. It is about faithfulness to God and just relationships with our neighbors across racial lines. Pursuing righteousness is about seeking change and advocating for change, participating with God in our own transformation and joining with God in the transformation of our world.
- Pursuing just relationships with all our neighbors encompasses more than asking God to forgive us our sins; it calls us to deeply repent and actively seek to heal our broken relationships.
- God alone knows what full reconciliation looks like, when every nation, tribe, people, and language will worship before the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10). Even as we await the fulfillment of this promise, we journey toward reconciliation. Therefore, we are called to righteousness and to join in God’s work to establish the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Definition of racial righteousness
Racial Righteousness begins with the imago Dei (the image of God). In Genesis 1:27 we read, 'God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.' As we unpack the social construct of race, the imago Dei roots us in the biblical truth that all human beings are created equally in God's image and, as a result, all have intrinsic value and infinite worth. Racial righteousness acknowledges that because of sin, we have violated the imago Dei.
Racial Righteousness is a discipleship pathway that exposes the sin of racism and illuminates how we can honor God by faithfully loving our neighbor across lines of racial and ethnic differences.
Racial Righteousness empowers us to reimagine life together amid division, gives us tools to seek the Kingdom first, and demonstrates that we are disciples of Christ through our countercultural love for one another. Racial Righteousness enables the Church to become better neighbors, more effective in mission, and more faithful disciples of Jesus.
Definition courtesy of Dominique Gilliard, Evangelical Covenant Church Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconcilliation
The work needs to be done personally and collectively. It will be uncomfortable...but we need to become comfortable with the discomfort and be willing to say things that interrupt an injustice when we can. – Sarah Swanson '89, Parent, Trustee
Opening Spaces for Diverse Voices
Who will we be listening to? Where will we make space for these voices?
A handful of students cheer while others groan as Sita Baker reads the second Kahoot* answer for the packed auditorium: When were Native Americans considered citizens of the United States? 1924.
This is one of the last student-led assemblies pre-COVID. Before a tumultuous political season revealed just how divided we as a nation are. It's a normal day at MA, and today Upper School students walk out of assembly better understanding the history behind the conflicted emotions their American Indian classmates experience when others refer to "us Americans."
Sita, her younger sister, Grace, and Nora Thomey (all members of the school's Diversity Club) planned and led this school assembly. For Sita and Grace (who are Dakota, Lakota, and Ojibwe and grew up surrounded by the American Indian community) this was a chance to share their culture and the history of the peoples they came from with their classmates. In spite of the school's location situated just five minutes from the hub of American Indian life in the Twin Cities, many MA students have never held a face-to-face conversation about culture and history with an American Indian student. For Nora (white American) it was a chance to support her friends and also to challenge her classmates to do the thing she is most passionate about right now: Listen to and learn from those who are unlike herself.
"Minnehaha is situated physically in such a diverse area, and we are in a diverse world, so [I would like to see us as a community] listen to other perspectives and not dismiss them. You don't have to agree with everyone's opinion, but do listen with respect," she says. For Grace's part, she felt encouraged at the warm student response to the assembly, sharing that she felt heard by her peers.
Assemblies and chapels are just one arena where the school wants to open more spaces for diverse voices. Those voices might be students with unique personal experiences to share; ministers, authors, faculty, and business people of color; or alumni who resonate with the struggle of wanting to feel heard.
Looking forward, both Grace and Nora see room for growth but also see signs of increased positive student engagement: "There's a lot more conversation [happening]," Grace says, explaining that she's seen discussions about issues related to race and ethnic identity or struggles trickle out of the classroom and into personal conversations. Nora also sees signs of increased student curiosity and willingness to talk. "There's been a huge uptick in people starting these conversations....[When] Diversity Interns put out resources people were also looking at them. That's been super inspiring, coming into this school year."
Where Do We Go From Here?
Scripture calls on us to "rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." For so long both the rejoicing and weeping of brothers and sisters of color has either been absent or given token spaces in schools across the nation.
We as a school have a chance to honor the 1/3 of our student population who are students of color by rejoicing with them over the accomplishments and moments of beauty in their stories as well as to weep with them over the pain they have experienced.
We want to create an atmosphere where every student feels heard, and points of disagreement are not swept under the rug but instead taken out and examined respectfully and carefully.
We want to celebrate the joy of the many cultural nuances that make up the family of God, and take these as an opportunity to learn more about God himself.
Finally, we strive for the humility that continually brings us back to the table when we see areas that need growth.
"What continues to draw me is the ability to be honest that we are still trying to figure this out, and we will never arrive because we are constantly on this journey," says parent and leader of Mosaic's parent group Jesse Ross.
As believers, the journey towards deeper fellowship is not just a choice, but a calling. For Minnehaha Academy, listening is the first step. May we continue on together.