Cultural Harmony in Urban Education: 10 Guiding Principles

With thousands of students representing many different ethnicities, Minneapolis has one of the most beautifully diverse school systems across all of Minnesota—providing a wonderful opportunity for us to learn from many unique perspectives.

Yet, we are also living and working in one of the most contentious cultural spaces in America. Amid starkly opposing viewpoints that are being fueled by a constant influx of news and social media, navigating the current climate feels more challenging than ever.

With so much division, how do we create cultural harmony in schools and the workplace, and a society where all people can thrive?

Hope Academy believes that God’s love has the power to create unity across cultures, ethnicities, income levels, and political parties. As our school creed states, “We are a kingdom school”; and Jesus said to his disciples, “my kingdom is not of this world.” This means we have the distinct joy of pursuing a higher calling—to love God and each other, even and especially in our differences. Ten guiding principles have helped us continue this growth as a school community:

Our 10 Guiding Principles

1. We believe our commitment to the supreme authority and truth of the Scriptures deeply impacts our understanding of cultural harmony and should inform both our strategies and tactics of how we pursue the unity of the Spirit together.

2. We believe that perspective matters, and ideas have consequences. Therefore, we believe the Bible gives us a distinctively God-centered way to understand issues of race, justice, culture, equity, and reconciliation. We recognize that while secular resources may be helpful, they are often lacking in truth or love and will need to be aligned to a biblical perspective.

3. We believe that our identity in Christ supersedes all other identities. Recognizing two over-arching, super-bloodlines (we are image-bearers of God and blood-bought members of the family of God) profoundly affects our pursuit of cultural harmony. Submitted to these two super-bloodlines, culture and ethnicity will flourish as beautiful creations of God that should be recognized, engaged, and celebrated because they ultimately help us to know and love God better.

4. We believe that understanding both the original and on-going sin-nature of every human being is essential in our pursuit of cultural harmony. This implies on-going vigilance, self-examination, and repentance for bias, abuse of power, and prejudice.

5. We believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to help us do the necessary work of recognizing historic sins of racism with honesty, humility, and hope. We lament the painful legacy that racism and discrimination have left our society, and we are committed to fighting it in every form, personally and systemically.

6. We believe the gospel of the forgiveness of sins through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit fundamentally infuses our pursuit of cultural harmony with hope when we are tempted to despair.

7. We believe Jesus’ jubilee commitment to lead a movement that “proclaims good news to the poor and sets at liberty those who are oppressed” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Mark 4:18-19) means that our responsibility to prepare servant leaders equipped to practice justice is not optional.

8. We believe the family is a primary institution of faith formation and development. We will leverage the distinctive, God-given role of the family in shaping children’s humble, wise, and courageous hearts for engaging in the flourishing of cultural harmony.

9. We believe that role models are important and necessary in growing up into the love of God and the character of Christ. We will intentionally pursue staff who deeply understand and sympathize with our students’ life experiences because our parents and students have told us this is important to them.

10. We believe that we can maintain the unity of the spirit by “bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) We will expose Satan’s wicked lies designed to sabotage kingdom initiatives and divide the people of God.

Jesus prayed that his followers would “all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.“(John 17:20-21)

As a private, Christian K-12 school—serving hundreds of families in some of the highest need areas of Minneapolis—Hope Academy has a unique opportunity to display God’s love and mercy, as evidenced by cultural harmony within our school community.

We invite you to watch as Hope Academy students recite Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and to join us in praying for and pursuing the unity of our Lord, who calls his followers to peace.