ACU president calls for cooperation; apologizes


By LORETTA FULTON
Senior Staff Writer,
Abilene Reporter-News
Feb. 21, 2000

A repentant and humbled Dr. Royce Money called on his fellow members of the Church of Christ Sunday night to move into the new millennium with a spirit of cooperation and unity.

Money, president of Abilene Christian University, offered an apology for past racial discrimination in the school's admissions policies and also urged his Church of Christ brethren to be more ecumenical minded.

"We don't have to condemn other Christians who make other choices," Money said in the opening address of the 82nd annual ACU Bible Lectureship.

Money acknowledged that members of the Church of Christ often get nervous talking about endeavors outside their own boundaries, but he said the time has come to participate more fully with all Christians.

"Our calling is to be at the table," Money said, "Not in the corner or out of the room all together."

Money's comments were endorsed with numerous rounds of applause, but perhaps none so rousing as when he offered an apology on behalf of the university for past discriminatory policies.

Up until 1965, ACU did not admit black students.

The apology was formulated after a meeting in late October on the ACU campus attended by Church of Christ ministers and school officials, including about 25 blacks.

The apology was read by Money on Nov. 21 at the Founder's Day program at Southwestern Christian College, a historically black Church of Christ institution in Terrell.

At Sunday night's lecture, a video of that address was shown, including a response from officials at Southwestern who called the apology a "bold step."

Money's address Sunday night was the first of seven lectures to be held in Moody Coliseum through Wednesday.

In addition to the morning and evening addresses, the annual lectureship also includes daily classes, exhibits, awards luncheons and special presentations.

Up to 15,000 people from across the United States and abroad are expected in Abilene for the lectureship, which is one of the largest of its kind in the country.

Money's remarks prompted a standing ovation at its conclusion.

A black psychology professor at the university, Dr. Sonja Barcus, said Money's remarks left her with a sense of hope for more change in the future.

Barcus graduated from ACU in 1988 and said the atmosphere at that time for black students was good, but that she expects it to be even better for future students. Money's openness in talking about racial issues can only help, she said.

"Just that it's being said shows change," she said. "For it to be spoken outwardly is wonderful."

Money said the theme for this year's lectureship, "Unfinished Business: Challenges for the New Millennium," caused him to think seriously about the church of the future.

"There's unfinished business in the church when there's reconciliation to be done," he said.

Money said he was pleased with the focus on unfinished business.

The word "unfinished," means "we're in a process," he said.

"It's ongoing, we're not there yet." And the word "business" means that the task is serious.

Money said the last serious attempt at racial reconciliation came in 1968 and that nothing much had been accomplished since then.

But he pledged that ACU will be more proactive in the future, beginning with the apology.

Racism takes a more subtle form today than 30 years ago, he said, but it is still present.

It is the duty of Christians to recognize it and eliminate it, he said.

"We as Christians must become more aware of what's happening and make the necessary corrections," he said.

Loretta Fulton can be reached at 676-6778 or fultonl@abinews.com

Copyright ©2000, Abilene Reporter-News / Texnews / E.W. Scripps Publications

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