In the midst of heightened racial tensions around United States and within the church, the website ChristianPost.com has recently posted two misleading articles1, 2 concerning Dallas Theological Seminary and the experience of one of its graduates. Our immediate response to the initial article was the following:
We are deeply saddened to hear of the pain our graduate Jimmy King has experienced from racial tensions in the church, and since this article was posted we’ve reached out to him to better understand his experience. The director of placement at the time Jimmy graduated has since passed away, so we cannot verify the details of their conversation, but Kevin Hawkins, DTS’s current alumni and placement coordinator for African-American students, indicated that DTS’s placement statistics show that African-American graduates have been referred to ministries without distinction, including predominately white churches, in the years before and since Jimmy graduated. Dallas Theological Seminary condemns racism in all forms, and we believe that racial reconciliation is a critical ministry of the church. Many of our graduates serve in mosaic and multi-ethnic churches, and we are humbled by the way they serve Christ and his Church world-wide.
Jimmy King (ThM, 2006), the DTS graduate referenced in the original article, was disappointed in the story and posted the following:
"[I], Jimmy King, the graduate who started this fire, never encountered any racism while attending DTS. The issue has been missed because of the spin of the subject which placed it in a context concerning DTS and not where it was intended which is to the Churches. Once again the question is how can the unreconciled church, whose ministry is reconciliation, reconcile the races in society if we don't first address racism in the Church? I have communicated with the placement office and assured them that my [intention] was not to highlight DTS as racist in anyway, but to merely use my experience to highlight the issue of racism that we have amongst the churches. When churches solicited graduates from DTS they usually put 'any' when it come to which specific race they desire for their church. Therefore, DTS then sends out resumes of all races to those churches, but at the time I was in the pool of applicants the placement office merely informed me that never had they successfully placed a black to any of the churches which solicited them. Again, the rub is not DTS but the churches. I will say, had I not gone to DTS I may not have such a conviction about this because my training at DTS has afforded me the opportunity to interpret the scriptures properly and correctly to the point where I know this matters to God and therefore to the people of God. If the Christian Post got this wrong then what other stories have they slanted for the readability of the story[?] I would hope that we would be able to leave this venue and create one that tries at all cost to get it right. Face to face works for me. Lets talk about racism in the churches and let’s hear some possible solutions. I'm ready are you?"
DTS condemns racism in all forms, and it does not discriminate on the basis of race or sex in hiring staff or faculty, nor in referring alumni to ministries. DTS regularly addresses issues of race in classrooms, podcasts, and chapels, including the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. chapel series.
Every year President Mark L. Bailey reads this statement:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel Announcement
We at Dallas Seminary want to be continually conscious of the cultural sins of our American forefathers and seek to speak to the injustices of the present. The trade and treatment of slaves was unrighteous and has caused unwholesome and unnecessary divisions in the nation and even within the church of Jesus Christ.
This special chapel also gives me, as the President of Dallas Theological Seminary, a public opportunity to reaffirm our institutional apology for all real and any perceived prejudice that was experienced prior to or since your admission that may have discouraged others from applying and thereby kept full Christian reconciliation and mutual respect from being what it always should be – the biblical order of the day. May we who study and serve at DTS always celebrate our family identity and unity in Christ as the truest definition of our community.
While DTS is saddened to hear of Mr. King’s treatment in churches and for the misunderstandings spread by ChristianPost.com, we are grateful for the chance to reiterate that racial reconciliation is a critical ministry of the church today. We stand strong on our years of creative initiatives to attract, equip, and deploy African-American men and women into the ministry, and we are humbled by the care and grace many of our graduates exhibit when writing and speaking on racial issues.