There are few men that I can say I admire, though many I respect. Chief among those is the President of Abilene Christian University, Dr. Royce Money. I don’t really know Royce, but I know enough about him that he makes my short list of “Admiration Worthy Men”.
I remember my freshman year of college. Dr. Money, along with his wife Pam, stood in front of the cafeteria and greeted every new student and their parents as they arrived for orientation. I also recall my Junior year when Dr. Money invited the entire Students’ Association Senate to his home for dinner. And I’ll never forget the Senate meeting, after we students had mismanaged about $27,000 on an ill-fated concert, when Dr. Money lovingly rebuked us telling us to get out of the concert business and into the people business.
As far as I can tell Dr. Money has always been about the people business. Not only that, he has demonstrated that being in the people business means doing what is best for people whether they like it or not.
Several years ago, Dr. Money made a public and full confession of ACU’s sin of racism and exclusion. Though he wasn’t President of the university in the 50’s and 60’s when blacks were denied admission to ACU, he felt that healing must begin with confession and repentance. He said that they (those currently governing the university) may not be responsible for sins of the past, but they could be accountable. It takes a real man to say something like that; a man worthy of admiration.
It didn’t just stop with words though. ACU set about a pretty rigourous attempt to hire more qualified, competent African-American professors, and sought out African-American students with new vigor. When I walk campus today I see nearly twice as many minority students as were here when I was a student. There are a ton more faculty too. You see, I don’t really know Royce Money, but the people who do apparently have little trouble following him. If he thinks ACU should be more diverse, it becomes more diverse.
Recently an organization associated with extending the gay and lesbian agenda contacted ACU and said that they would be visiting the school this school year. Their goal is civil disobedience toward institutions who disagree with them–particularly religious groups. The group announced that they would protest ACU’s stance on gay and lesbian relationships. ACU is one of ten schools the group will be visiting on their tour. ACU is also the only school willing to engage the group in open dialogue. The other schools are looking at how to limit the group’s engagement on campus, perhaps even how the police might become involved. ACU is willing to encounter the group, to open honest discussion, to give them access to administrators and have students tour them around campus. Though the administration in firm in its conviction, they are determined to meet the group in love, openness, honesty, and grace. Do you know why? Because Dr. Money thinks that what Jesus would do.
This past Sunday night, Dr.Money took another bold step. At the beginning of this year’s Bible Lectureship, Dr. Money was joined on the stage by Dr. Don Jeanes. Dr. Jeanes is the President of Milligan College, a Christian Church school. For those unacquainted with churches of Christ, the independent Christian churches are our cousins. We share the same roots, but our church had a major split in 1906. For most of the last hundred years we have been separate groups. What’s more, we liked it!
However, the past several years have given us a growing dialogue about unity and oneness. At Christian Church and Church of Christ events, there has been growing discussion about why we split, why disunity is against the Spirit of God, and what we can do to have unity without trying to force uniformity. Well, Sunday night’s joint keynote heralded the dawning of a new day for both our movements.
Dr. Money–as the President of the largest church of Christ university in the world, as well as the university that produces the best preachers, teachers and ministers in Christianity–proclaimed that the next hundred years will be different. You know what, since Royce said it, I bet the next hundred years will be different.
I was proud to be a part of the ACU community Sunday night and I’m excited about the future of our fellowship. How could I not be, when we are lead by admiration worthy women and men like Dr. Royce Money.