For 36 years, Little Rock Christian Academy has been intentional to flesh out the biblical mandate that in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) Unity in diversity flows from a biblical worldview, the backbone of our school.
In 2007, we put it this way: “LRCA seeks to be a pre-eminent K4-12 academic institution that offers an excellent college-preparatory curriculum while serving the greatest portion of the body of Christ … within our community.” In 2008, we enthusiastically adopted the educational motto: “The difference is a gift.” In 2011, the strategic thinking of our board identified the need to define our school culture and anchor it to our core values of excellence, truth, partnership and love. And, as part of that process, we recognized the need for our campus to more accurately reflect the body of Christ and His Kingdom.
We have recently defined Kingdom diversity as a compelling spectrum of ethnic, socio-economic, denominational and learner differences lived out in our school community. I applaud our board of trust and school community for understanding the truth of Scripture, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (I Cor. 12:14)
Our tuition assistance fund and our learner differences program illustrate our earnest initiative “to serve the greatest portion of the body of Christ within our community.” At the same time, we are quick to recognize that there is ample room to grow in terms of diversity among us.
In 2012, a diversity team was formed by the board of trust to formulate and propose a plan of action. The diversity team, including Mark Leverett (Chair), Drew Harper, Tad Fiser and Harry Li, prayerfully and humbly sought wise counsel. Our research discovered that Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano, Texas had walked this very path a few years ago and had made remarkable progress in a similar school setting. The LRCA board of trust brought the PCA head of school, the PCA diversity director and a PCA minority teacher to our campus to advise us on how to make our compelling vision as inclusive as possible while forging ahead with our core mission.
Yes, we can document progress in serving diverse families. Our percentage of minority students has risen from 2% to 7% (100+) since 2008. Still, in a community of 900 families and 210 employees, the diversity of LRCA can be significantly expanded to reflect God’s kingdom, especially as it relates to our community. To help our children prepare for a more diverse world, we recently hired an Asian teacher to teach Mandarin in the high school next year and Dr. Henry Parker of Arkansas Baptist College joins our vocal arts faculty; both outstanding additions to our faculty.
To nurture our biblical diversity in a unified manner, we have engaged Dr. Harry Li, The Campus Pastor of the Mosaic Church in Little Rock, to guide LRCA leadership in these endeavors. Harry Li, with Mosaic’s Directional Pastor, Mark Deymaz, co-authored the book Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity Into Your Local Church. I love their model of biblical unity and inclusion. The cross is the only hope for unity in diversity. As we focus on the cross and open our arms to one another in love, God is pleased, community is strengthened and children prosper.
The bottom line is this: the most important action a board of trust can accomplish is to advance and protect the mission of the organization. This is our singular, generative priority. In 2007, our strategic thinking focused on communication and the master plan. In 2011, our strategic thinking shifted to curriculum and culture. The result of each major phase of mission advancement is best illustrated by the earned designation of a National Blue Ribbon School (K-12) for Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Bible tells us we must ‘live up to what we have already attained.” (Phil 3:16) In the same breath, the Bible commands us to “press on” (Phil 3:13) “until we all reach unity in the faith.” (Eph. 13)
We are eager to obey.
Gary B. Arnold, Ed. D.
Head of School / President