“If pride comes before a fall, then I think that humility precipitates grace.”
Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the #iNGREDiENTS podcast!
In Episode 008, I had the privilege of speaking to Atlanta, GA native Garrison Hayes. We recorded this discussion on February 27, 2017.
Garrison received his Bachelors Degree in Film Production from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN and is currently pursuing his Masters of Divinity at the Andrews University Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI. Garrison is passionate about ministering to young adults and building social consciousness through open and honest dialogue.
The backdrop to this conversation has been well documented, but I will share a brief synopsis with you (for a more full synopsis, check out this article in Spectrum Magazine).
On February 9, 2017, Dr. Jaime Kowlessar delivered the first of three messages that he would be presenting on the campus of Andrews University during their Black History Month Celebration during that weekend. Apparently, there were some who attended the Thursday chapel that thought Dr. Kowlessar was insinuating that it was impossible to be a Christian and also support Donald Trump. At that point, he was advised to try and steer clear of partisan speech during the remainder of the weekend and he agreed to not mention Trump by name again.
Prompted by an e-mail he received which accused him of trying to be divisive, Dr. Kowlessar read a public response on the next night before delivering his second message. That did not do much to appease the hurt feelings of those who were offended by his messages, and over the course of the next week, the AU administration received numerous complaints from students (and some of their parents) criticizing what they viewed as inappropriate partisan speech.
On February 16, during the next week’s Thursday chapel, University Provost Dr. Christon Arthur issued a public apology to students who were offended by Dr. Kowlessar’s messages during the previous week. Students on campus who felt empowered by Dr. Kowlessar’s messages saw this apology – just one week after the February 9th chapel – as a betrayal of their trust in the institution to include their stories in the narrative of the University’s discourse & worship. They decided that they needed to make a swift, powerful and public response.
On February 18, 2017, two days after the apology was given by the University Provost, University Chaplain Michael Polite and 9 University Students: Garrison Hayes, Esther Battle, Angie Powels, Warren Gillin, Leah Wooten, Ben Lee, Jannel Monroe, Joy Chikwekwe and Danni Francis released the #ItIsTimeAU video on Youtube, as well as Facebook (the group decided unilaterally to take the Facebook video down, while the one on Youtube still remains).
There was a lot of dialogue in the wake of the video’s release. Ultimately, it led to the University holding a special chapel on the following Thursday, February 23, 2017, in which University President Dr. Andrea Luxton made powerful remarks and introduced an amazing 7-minute video responding to the #ItIsTimeAU requests.
This definitely gave me several things to talk to Garrison about.
In Part One of my discussion with Garrison, we talk about his journey from Southern to Andrews and the similarities/differences between the two institutions. Garrison talks about how his journey at Southern, as well as some of the conversations around racial tensions on that campus last February, helped inform his participation in the #ItIsTimeAU project. Garrison opens up about the conversations he has been trying to create both individually and on the campus at-large that reach across racial and political lines.
Garrison is open about the impetus behind the video’s creation, and why he, along with Chaplain Michael Polite & AU Student’s Angie Powels, Warren Gillin, Esther Battle, Leah Wooten, Ben Lee, Jannel Monroe, Joy Chikwekwe and Danny Francis decided to make the video before attempting to have a meeting with AU’s administration. Garrison also talks about the leadership of Chaplain Polite as well as the bravery of all of the students involved in the video. To close out Part One, Garrison gives us a look into his Facebook comments/inbox, and the text messages & e-mails he received in the wake of #ItIsTimeAU‘s release.
Part 2 will be coming your way very soon!
Our Podcast logo creator Jonathan Jacobs wrote a great blog about the comments section: www.johnyjacobs.com/blog/itistimeau.
For more on the University’s response and the steps they will be taking moving forward, feel free to go here: www.andrews.edu/agenda/44898/.
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