How ACU AFA Came to Be
My name is Ryan Clements. I am a graduate of Abilene Christian University (ACU) and an openly gay Christian. In the past few weeks my alma mater has taken actions and proposed policy changes that have crushed and enraged me.
A married couple was hired to serve as university chaplains and were fired only a few days before starting the job (though not before starting the process of moving to a new city) all because of their affiliation with a pro-LGBTQ church.
Then came news of a policy change. ACU Senior Leadership announced they were clarifying the employee policy to include same-sex dating relationships as grounds for termination, including of student workers. Although no longer a student, if this policy had been in place when I was at ACU it would have put me at risk of being fired from opportunities that helped mold me into who I am today. I felt the pain of previous discrimination dig itself out from underneath scabs of healing and slap me in the face.
Do something, it said. So I did.
My first step was to create a private Facebook group to give myself and others a safe place to discuss the harm this policy would cause students and discuss what we could do about it. Within 24 hours the group had 100 members. By the end of the third day more than 1,000 people had joined the group.
Because all of us can do more than one of us, I assembled a team of friends and mentors, many of whom have a long history in community organizing and activist work, to advise me on how to turn this group of people into a force for good.
A strategic plan was created and we began to organize and build teams. I found other groups associated with ACU Alumni that were pro-LGBTQ and began sending emails and making calls, connecting with complete strangers who were willing to talk and listen.
And that is how ACU Alumni and Friends for Action came to exist.
Our vision is for ACU to be a place of love, hospitality, and formation of “Christian service and leadership throughout the world,” regardless of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability, age, or national origin.
Our mission is to hold ACU accountable to its own promise of being “a supportive, welcoming, Christ-centered community.”