Blackface – Another Teachable Moment

 

 

In moments like these, the work of bridge building across racial lines stretches me emotionally. But God led me to start Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. for such a time as this. I want to believe that people of the Christian faith start with at least one shared belief. God loves us in spite of our failures.

The endless news about the revelation of Virginia government officials who wore blackface has emerged as yet another teachable moment. When the governor first spoke and offered an apology, I was ready to move into my “Grace and Race” mode. I was able to acknowledge right away, that in his context in 1984, he was perhaps not yet aware of the racist implications of such behavior.  My “grace-filled spirit” paled a bit with the apparent – present lack of knowledge –  exhibited in the now infamous press conference.

My husband asked me what I thought the governor should do – step down or press on? I responded that if he could surround himself with wise counsel from his constituency, he could use this as a moment to become an ambassador for racial understanding. From his position, he  can become a spokesperson for making this 2019 Black History Month, the beginning of a paradigm shift. His apology means nothing without some form of positive action toward change. What investment can he make in providing resources and creating space for constructive dialogue informed by studying and acknowledging white privilege and the continuing impact of the dehumanization of Black people? Is he willing to say, I am sorry, ask for forgiveness, and to press on to become an active agent for change?

God’s grace toward me is a constant reminder, that although I have done things that would not be pleasing to God, God still forgives me and challenges me to forgive others as God has forgiven me.  Sharing well-researched, historically accurate information and creating spaces for healing are important steps in the process of moving forward. The blog from the National Urban League is a useful primer for those who still may not understand and query why the blackface controversy matters.

http://nul.iamempowered.com/content/tbe6-blackface-flaunting-white-privilege

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NSRV

 

 

Ten Ways to Build the Beloved Community

Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 13:58 | Category : Building Bridges of Hope to End Racism
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Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. was founded with the goal of helping to build bridges of understanding to overcome racism and become the “beloved community” envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The most frequently asked question we hear has become “what can I/we do?” Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Hunt has prepared a resource to inform and guide next steps for communities of faith willing to commit to the goal.  The following is a brief excerpt from his writings in The Beloved Community Toolkit . It is my prayer that you will identify a next step for your role as a bridge builder.

A universal human striving is for authentic community. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was among those who framed the conception of community in what he termed the Beloved Community. King asserted that “all life is interrelated.” This interrelatedness was rooted, for King, in the fundamental belief in the kinship of all persons. He believed that all life is part of a single process; all persons are sisters and brothers, and that we all have a place in the Beloved Community. Because all of us are interrelated, one cannot harm another without harming oneself.   King also said “everyone could be great because everyone could serve.” In these uncertain times, churches and our broader society must make a sincere commitment to engaging in acts of compassion and justice as means of living out our faith and loving our neighbors. Individuals, churches, groups, organizations, institutions and even governments can continue to pursue Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community by making a sincere commitment to community- building and social engagement.

 

Here are ten ways that individuals, churches, and other organizations can promote peace with justice.

1. Support and develop community-wide plans aimed at expanding economic opportunities for racial-ethnic persons and women specifically in the areas of housing, banking, and employment practices.
2. Actively participate in programs that reach out to help those in the most need – the hungry, the homeless, and the unemployed.
3. Do your part to assure that every inner city and rural young person can look forward to an adequate education. Adopt an inner-city or rural school. Offer your skills where appropriate.
4. Encourage schools, colleges, and universities in your area to include the teachings of Dr. King and other freedom fighters in their curricula and programs.
5. Take specific actions to deal with the problems of drugs, alcohol dependency, teenage pregnancy, and family violence in your community.
6. Advocate for the removal of all weapons from our streets, homes, and schools. Support causes that promote freedom, justice, and peace abroad.
7. Help extend human rights, dignity, health, and economic well-being to all persons.
8. Actively oppose groups that promote hatred and violence. Vigilantly oppose racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred in our communities.  

9. Sponsor and participate in programs that encourage interracial, intercultural, and inter-religious goodwill and unity.

10. Read the Social Principles of your denomination and strive to make them an integral part of your life and the life of your church and community.

 

You can find the entire toolkit online  THE BeLOVEd CoMMuNiTy TOOLKIT – Rackcdn.com

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Faith is an Action Word!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 0:39 | Category : Building Bridges of Hope to End Racism
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Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, president and founder of Grace & Race Ministries, will be the keynote speaker at The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s Multi-Faith Perspectives on Dr. King’s messages of Equality, Justice & Love. This annual event, which brings together hundreds of people from numerous faith traditions in the Washington metropolitan area, will be held on Sunday, January 13, 2019 from 3:00-4:30pm at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20005.

For more information about this important celebration, visit: ifcmw.org.

*To help prepare homes for the homeless, please bring with you to the MLK service donations of, paper towel rolls, disinfectant bottles, handsoap, etc. Please also visit https://foodrescue.us/ to help.

 

 

 

 

THE BELOVED COMMUNITY…

 Toward the Beloved Community

How God’s Grace Builds Bridges Around Race

MLK Bridges, a collaborative effort of Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. and Kingdom Mission Society  invites you to a symposium event on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 3 pm. at St. Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church, 1244 V Street SE, Washington DC 20020.

We will explore the theme of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Beloved Community  with a special focus on how God’s grace can help us overcome some of the challenges presented by the racial divide.  The keynote speaker will be Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Hunt, Sr. Pastor of Epworth Chapel, United Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Hunt is also an author and  professor of  systematic, moral and practical theology at The Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. He has developed “The Beloved Community Toolkit” which will be shared during the symposium.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in conversation and share opportunities for building bridges of understanding in the faith community. Continental breakfast and  a lunch will be provided.

Registration is $30 for individuals; $40 for teams of 2 people.

You can register here – https://kingdommissionsociety.org/events/toward-the-beloved-community-how-grace-builds-bridges-around-race/1539421200/1539442800/

Grace and Race 10th Anniversary

Saturday, 1 September 2018, 19:43 | Category : Building Bridges of Hope to End Racism
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What a joy it was to gather with some of our partners and friends to celebrate our 10th year of striving to build bridges of understanding across the racial divide! We firmly believe that our Christian faith requires us to respond in paradoxical ways in a social climate that builds walls and creates separation rather than unity.  

We opened our day with scripture, prayer, song and this litany drafted for the occasion. It is our prayer that every reader will embrace the spirit reflected in these prayerful words. 

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Grace and Race 10th Anniversary Litany

Lord, make known to me your will for my life and help me to do it.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me not be used as a bully or a pawn, but let me be an instrument of equality and peace.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me use the word of God as a lamp and a light unto the world, rather than as a tool to divide us.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me be willing to examine my motives and the secret places of my heart when I encounter people who are different from me.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me intentionally invite people, who don’t look like me, to my house of worship, so we can experience the Holy Spirit together.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me no longer be silent about the ills and pain of racism in conversations with my family and closest friends

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let not only my spoken words, but also my written words reflect a new perspective of God’s love for all humanity

BY THE GRACE OF GOD         

Let me commit both time and resources to the amelioration and elimination of racism and discrimination

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me no longer be comfortable living my life “business as usual.”  But let me recognize that the “business” needs to change.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Let me continually seek direction from God to transform me into a change agent to build his beloved community until justice runs down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Amen!

Reverend Renee Williams Thomas, Author