Employees Commit to Living Out Micah 6:8

At the heart of a series of employee workshops called Micah 6:8 Training is the biblical mandate to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

By Michelle Westlund '83, senior content specialist

June 03, 2021 | 11:30 a.m.

Micah 6:8

Micah 6:8 Training provides an ongoing opportunity for Bethel employees to learn and reflect about cultural humility as children of God.

A society marred by injustice and exploitation. A nation weakened by internal strife, dividing it and turning people against each other. The description fits American culture today—and it also describes the culture of the biblical prophet Micah, who called for justice and mercy in Israel. His message couldn’t be more clear: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV). In an effort to live out these words in our contemporary context—and more specifically, right here at Bethel—a recent set of workshops called Micah 6:8 Training offered support for Bethel employees seeking to act with cultural humility and authenticity.

As part of Bethel’s commitment to the core value of reconciliation, Micah 6:8 Training was in the planning stages more than a year ago. The events of summer 2020, including the death of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide outcry to address racial injustices, added increased urgency to the conversation. The objective of the training is to provide an ongoing opportunity for Bethel employees to learn, reflect, and think about cultural humility as children of God. It aims to increase cultural humility and culturally responsive teaching and communicating, and decrease unintentional racial bias. The focus is ongoing, and part of a larger emphasis on the integration of faith in the classrooms and culture of Bethel. “We’re not doing this for social or political reasons,” says organizer and trainer Judith Landrum, dean of education and Christian ministries in Bethel’s College of Adult & Professional Studies and Graduate School. “We’re doing this for biblical reasons, in response to the commands in Scripture.”

Approximately 200 Bethel faculty and staff participated in a set of three training workshops based on the three tenets of Micah 6:8—to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. The “Walk Humbly” workshop explored cultural bias. “Love Mercy” taught attendees to engage in authentic conversations. “Do Justice” emphasized honoring culture in documents, communication, and syllabus design. The training included debrief sessions for more discussion, follow-up, and practical action steps.

For Shaune Younkers, a specialist in Bethel’s Office of Human Resources, the sheer number of people at the training was encouraging. “In my role, I work to make sure people feel safe, welcome, and respected at Bethel University,” she says. “When I saw how many people signed up for the training, I was thrilled! To me, that represented Bethel employees wanting to learn more and equip themselves to increase cultural humility and decrease unintentional bias.” Younkers says she was encouraged and inspired by the example of the workshop presenters, who represented a diverse group of leaders and practitioners at Bethel and beyond. “When leaders are willing to meet you where you’re at and instill hope that every person can gain something from this kind of training, that creates an environment where people can prosper.”

Kent Gerber, digital initiatives manager at the Bethel University library, was impacted by the rich knowledge and personal stories shared by the presenters, and is now motivated to practice and build on the skills he learned. “I plan to practice the intergroup dialogue skills I learned in order to give more intentional introductions of myself, and be a more active listener and a more strategic speaker,” he says. “I also intend to pursue more training in identifying my own biases so I can better engage in the issues of race and ethnicity.” 

Ultimately, the training—like the Micah 6:8 passage it is named after—relies on what God has already shown humanity through His word. “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” is a starting point for biblical reconciliation, in Micah’s time and today. And reliance on God’s Spirit is essential for that, says Landrum. “We are the tool and instrument,” she explains. “But all of this is by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Reconciliation: A Bethel Core Value.

At Bethel, we’re called to create a more equitable, just, and hopeful future—together. Our vision for diversity is rooted in the concept of shalom, a Hebrew word that describes the wellbeing of all people under the just and loving rule of Christ. Through programs, partnerships, and resources, we’re committed to ongoing diversity and reconciliation work, providing support and development opportunities for students and employees.

Learn more