Five ways you can back InterVarsity after #BlackLivesMatter stance

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Michelle Higgins speaking at Urbana 15. Screenshot of Vimeo.

Michelle Higgins speaking at Urbana 15. Screenshot of Vimeo.

A group of evangelical leaders have come out in support of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (InterVarsity). The evangelical college ministry’s Urbana 15 missions conference devoted an evening to addressing race, racism, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Michelle Higgins speaking at Urbana 15. Screenshot of Vimeo.

Michelle Higgins speaking at Urbana 15. Screenshot of Vimeo.

InterVarsity received support and blowback over the move. InterVarsity said in a statement that Black Lives Matter is “a language and experience of many college students.”

Many Black InterVarsity staff and students report that they are physically and emotionally at risk in their communities and on campus…InterVarsity chose to participate in this conversation because we believe that Christians have something distinctive to contribute in order to advance the gospel.

InterVarsity also stated that it did not support all things attributed to #BlackLivesMatters, such as demonizing police officers. Instead, the organization sees itself as “co-belligerents” with a movement that affirms black lives as deserving equality and protection.

InterVarsity’s unabashed support for #BlackLivesMatter may be its boldest move yet

A group of evangelical leaders wrote an open letter to the leadership of Urbana 15 and InterVarsity. The letter thanks them for taking a stand and recognizes that they “demonstrated tremendous courage to display an unpopular, but central tenet of Christian faith, that the bodies of the poor and oppressed are central to God’s work in the world.” Signatories included leaders at evangelical colleges, churches, and parachurch organizations.

But InterVarsity is also receiving less public negative reactions. InterVarsity’s financing comes from donors who support individual staff (that is, each staff person raises his or her own support).

Here are five things you can do to show your support:

1. Watch the video

As with many controversies, most people base their views on reports rather than what they’ve seen and heard. Watch the video of Michelle Higgins sermon (or the entire evening’s video).

2. Sign the letter

The open letter to InterVarsity is not limited to the original signatories. Anyone can view and sign the letter here.

3. Give to an InterVarsity chapter on a racially diverse campus

Here’s where you can put your money where your mouth is. The best way to advance what InterVarsity is trying to achieve is to support its chapters. InterVarsity staff members must each raise their own support. This model has the benefit that your contributions can be focused on campuses and programs that you support. The flip-side is that donors who vote with their wallets can severely hamper chapters.

InterVarsity chapters at diverse institutions (particularly ones whose students & alumni are less wealthy) are particularly at risk.

You can show your support by donating to staff working on diverse campuses. The chapter at my own university (Southern Illinois University), which has a very diverse student body including over 2,600 African American students. InterVarsity at SIU a large chapter that has a long history of multicultural, multiracial ministry.

Click here to donate to SIU’s InterVarsity chapter (the link is to the lead staff members). Your dollars will show how much you support for InterVarsity’s work with all students.

While even $10 would help — I’ll shave my head if the chapter gets more than $10,000 this month from readers of this blog.

4. Give to InterVarsity’s multiethnic programs and staff

Then there are other parts of InterVarsity that you can support. The national organization has funds set aside to support minority staff (who often have difficulty raising support) and for programs for minority students.

Here’s a list of programs. Each one links to its donation page:

5. Stay Informed

There are two ways to keep up-to-date on race, #BlackLivesMatter, & faith.

Sign-up for the email newsletter put out by Faith for Justice. This is the organization led by Higgins. It is active in St. Louis. Faith for Justice works with national organizations on race and justice issues. To subscribe, send an email to You can also follow Higgins on Facebook.

You can also follow InterVarsity’s multiethnic ministries on twitter at @INTERVARSITYmem.

Don’t miss any more posts from the Corner of Church & State. Click the red subscribe button in the right hand column. Follow @TobinGrant on Twitter and on the Corner of Church & State Facebook page.

  • Could you please add and ask individuals to support Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP), Graduate and Faculty Ministries, InterVarsity. This support is for ministry among Black graduate and professional students as well as Black Christian faculty. https// Thank you!

  • Jack

    The premise here is that a lone radical-left fringe group, Black Lives Matter, is the voice for racial diversity, racial equality, and racial justice in America.

    In fact, by even the article’s admission, it is a cop-hating radical group that has hijacked these noble causes for its own purposes.

    Because of its catchy title, it has drawn unmerited support from people across the nation who are justifiably grieved about the inequalities that still exist in our society more than a half-century after King’s March on Washington and the subsequent passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Like other extremist groups that preceded it, it will prove unable to prevent the crazies from embarrassing it and it will disintegrate.

    But the fight for racial justice and equality will continue. Better yet, a third goal, that of racial reconciliation, will resume its advance.

  • Rev Donald Spitz

    This is just more anti-white racism. Intervarsity has lost it’s way and now will end up on the dung heap of liberalism.

  • Jack

    I take a more cynical view. I think the handful of people associated with the organization are unwitting dupes of radical-left white people from lilly-white enclaves who seek the overthrow of American democracy as we know it by pitting American against American through the vehicles of race, gender, and class. The last thing they want is racial reconciliation or societal harmony of any kind.

  • Robert Neville

    I’m very encouraged by the fact that previous commenters share my view that BLM is a left wing political group with very little connection to racial harmony.
    I won’t be supporting IV in this decision.