In July 2007, the Seminary initiated the new Office of Multicultural Relations. Victor states that its goal is to “build bridges within the institution” of Princeton Seminary. Victor describes American culture as a “unique myriad,” whose character is not “one size fits all.” In the United States, a country built on diversity with many contrasting religious ideas, lifestyle practices, and perspectives, there is a “constant need to be aware of what it means to be unique”—to be an unparalleled and exceptional individual. Victor hopes to bring this awareness to Princeton Seminary through the Office of Multicultural Relations to further the Seminary’s mission statement to “embrace a rich racial and ethnic diversity,” and “equip (students) for leadership worldwide in congregations and the larger church.”
Victor acknowledges that some people may experience this larger, and at the same time shrinking world, as a threat to community and identity: “The dominant culture tells us to hold on to our identity, or our integrity is jeopardized,” he says, but “‘multicultural’ means all cultures, not just immigrant groups; we are all from different cultures, and our question is how to create a better atmosphere for dialogue. Whether one’s ancestry is European, South American, Asian, or African, we all have something to bring to the table.” Facilitating these opportunities throughout the Seminary will be one of Victor’s major goals.
Rather than focusing exclusively on diverse populations as an add-on, churches are rethinking and refocusing their ministerial approaches and mission directives. As a result, it is imperative that we as an institution of the church increase our capacity for educating ministry students to function in a diverse, multicultural, and interdependent global society. Thus, according to Victor, “the major shift of our pending initiatives is the recognition that understanding diversity, negotiating diversity, and taking grounded stands in the face of differences is of benefit to all students and indeed the church.”
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