Prayer For Our Divided Community

Professors and students gathered to pray for healing in the LGBTQ community and SPU’s community as a whole

Mary Bruggeman, Staff Writer

Chaplin Lisa talks to attendees over zoom, those who participated were given the option to go on a walk around campus while they listened. (Marissa Lordahl)

“Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Rainbows serve as bridges between different realms: heaven and earth, east and west, queer and non-queer,” Assistant Professor of Music Education, Christopher Hanson, read at a prayer walk on May 6.

33 professors and students gathered on Zoom and in Tiffany Loop on Thursday to pray over the hardships facing the LGBTQ+ community on the National Day of Prayer. Attendees were encouraged to listen to the prayer while walking around campus.

During the prayer, some people walked a chalk arrow path drawn around campus starting at Tiffany loop, while others walked on their own off campus.

Chaplin Lisa Ishihara opened the gathering by describing the progress SPU has made this past year towards more understanding, but she said this work must continue.

“There is still good communal hard work to be done wherever all of this lands,” Ishihara said. “But let us continue to meet together and continue to lean into each other.”

Education Librarian Cynthia Strong and Student Financial Services Counselor Emily Huff read a prayer that repented the fear and conflict that people have created.

The route for the prayer walk was outlined in chalk around campus. (Marissa Lordahl)

“We need you [God], for in our diversity we reflect the divinity of the creator,” was repeated several times throughout the prayer.

Associate Professor of Old Testament Theology Bo Lim pointed out that God is the God of minority groups through his prayer.

“God of the social-political minority, God of the economic minority, God of the ethnic minority, and God of the sexual minority, we come to you today seeking your presence, seeking your love, seeking your justice, seeking your deliverance, and seeking your help,” Lim said. “Your word says that you desire to have all people worship you. Your word says that you gather people who are considered outcasts.”

The event focused on the value of all people, especially those in minority groups.

Huff, one of the event planners, said that this was intentional. She said that because of the recent events, she wanted to be really sensitive about who was chosen to speak during the prayer time.

“We tried to bring different voices together,” she said. “I also wanted to be really careful and honoring of people in the LGBTQ community because many of them expressed some concerns to a couple people in our group about how they’ve been hurt by the church. So, we wanted to be really mindful of who we asked [to speak].”

Provost Laura Hartley, Professor Patrick McDonald and Professor Jeffrey Overstreet listened to the zoom while they did the prayer walk, stopping at various points around campus. (Marissa Lordahl)

Another person who prayed during the event, SOT Lilly Grants Budget Assistant Levi Clum, read, “God of Peace, we lift up our LGBTQ siblings. We ask that you sooth the wounds of pain, depression, trauma, and suicide caused by the actions of the church and society.”

The prayers focused on repentance and acknowledgement of the struggles of other people in the SPU community.

Chemistry Lab Coordinator and member of the Repentance and Reconciliation Subcommittee, Kristi Holt was another organizer of the event. She explained why the prayer time had such significance for her.

“What was so special about this space is that it felt like the right time and a safe place for me personally to come out to the larger SPU community,” Holt said.

Holt and Hanson represented the queer voices at the event.

“I was blessed to be able to do that with Chris [Hanson] by my side so that we weren’t alone in representing the very real voice of a people invested in the SPU community who are faithful Christians and identify as queer,” Holt said.

Holt prayed a personal prayer and Hanson read the Rainbow Christ Prayer, a prayer connecting God to what each of the colors of the rainbow represents.

Huff pointed out that there has been a lot of conflict on campus the past few months and that’s why the prayer time was so important.

“We all can agree no matter where people land that SPU needs help,” she said.

Huff was encouraged by the event but said that prayer and gathering to discuss current issues needs to continue.

“This is just one little seed, right? Like I don’t feel like ‘oh good we’re done’ at all. What I recognize is that this is just one part.”