Dr. John Nunes | Where Grace Meets Race
by Aubrey Bowen
It was an honor having Dr. John Nunes, President of Concordia College in New York City, speak during this year’s Lutheran Studies Conference. With Dr. Nunes’ lecture on grace meeting race, came a fresh outlook on his aspirations within the Lutheran community. As I sat with my Creative Non-Fiction Capstone class, Dr. Nunes’ told us, “Jesus is very popular in America, but his followers are divided.” With that being said, it is true that Lutherans are currently the most white, English speaking Christian religious denomination. It is Dr. Nunes’ goal, however, to create diversity within faith. Dr. Nunes then set the stage for how he defined diversity; an acrostic: Different, Individuals, Valuing, Each other, Regardless of, Skin, Identity, Talent or, Years. Both power and grace released from Dr. Nunes as he declared, “We need to try to find a way to live together. We need to creatively disrupt.” As an English major working to find my niche in this world, Dr. Nunes’ explicit proclamations were ones I could hold on to – ones I can include in my writing with purpose.
There is a current notion that with the word privilege comes guilt. However, privilege can also be a way of making a positive change. Dr. Nunes says that privilege is not something to be ashamed of as long as it is being used for good. He wanted it made clear that we should not be afraid to make a stance, no matter what race, gender, or age we are.
As both a listener and supporter of his message, I found his ideas to relate to other prevalent issues arising in America, whether one is religious or not. Police brutality, racism, and discrimination – these are all things in which creative disruption can eventually lead to greatness and justice, if Dr. Nunes’ philosophy is applied. When Dr. Nunes took questions from the audience, a concerned citizen asked how he as an individual continues to have hope. His answer was essentially this—“It is not easy. But knowing that eventually my grandchildren, or great, great grandchildren will live in a life where they do not have to worry about the color of their skin, that’s what makes it worth it.” Just because a change might not happen in your lifetime, does not mean you should give up. Holding on to this idea of creatively disrupting, is paving the way for a positive future. With every movement in history, was a break in pattern. It is with these breaks that hope can be created.