Turbans, Religious Diversity and the Promise of America

Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 22:40 | Category : Cultural Diversity, Religious Tolerance
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Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, who serves as vice president for Grace and Race Ministries, Inc., represented the ministry at a press conference on Jan. 26, 2015 at the National Press Club for the launch of a public awareness campaign about Sikhism. Sikhs have lived in America for hundreds of years but a majority of Americans do not know anything about adherents of the faith. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th many Sikhs have experienced increased incidents of violence, bullying and discrimination because of what they wear and others’ ignorance about what they believe.

Grace and Race Ministries supports the Sikh community and their efforts to educate Americans about their faith. Increasing awareness and understanding of Sikhs can only strengthen America and lead us toward full reconciliation and healing from a checkered past of bigotry and prejudice.

Below are Dr. Copeland-Tune’s remarks from the launch of the National Sikh Campaign.


Leslie speaking

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this important event. I am honored to be here with you today representing Grace and Race Ministries, which has as its mission to help foster racial understanding, healing and reconciliation.

It was just before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 when the world as we knew it changed. We could not have envisioned such devastation on American soil. We could not have fathomed such hatred wielded against innocent people. But, sadly, the hatred that drove planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NY did not stop there. It spilled over to Mesa, Arizona so that four days later the life of another innocent person was taken, that of Balbir Singh Sodhi.  He was not killed because of anything that he had done. He was not killed because of anything he said. He was not killed because of his job or because he was serving his country. He was not even killed because of his religious beliefs. He was murdered because of mistaken identity. Because someone simply looked at him and decided his life was collateral damage in a war—not against terrorism—but against those who look different and have different beliefs. Can you imagine living with that kind of daily threat to your life and that of your family? Can you imagine your life hanging in the balance based on someone else’s perception of who you are and what you represent?

 Yes, 9/11 was a tragedy of epic proportions. But 9/15 was also a tragedy and one that tears at the very fabric of American society and values. We are here today because the remnants of that tragedy continue as Sikhs are discriminated against and mistreated because of how they look and what others think they believe. (more…)

Think on These Things

When we are confronted with life’s most difficult situations, it is often easy to go to a default reaction. But, life is complicated and the most serious situations require more from us as Christians. They require us to go much deeper and to tap into the well of living water. With the issue of race once again rising to the forefront of our consciousness, I urge us to challenge our own thinking and responses even as we strive to reflect the mind of Christ.

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true,whatever is honorable,whatever is just,whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing,whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and sen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

This poignant reflection by Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune provides transformative insights. Think on these things: Every Life

Grace and Race?

Tuesday, 2 December 2014, 0:02 | Category : Grace, Racial Justice, Reconciliation Reflections
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By Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Founder & President

When I adopted “grace and race” as the words to help define my personal ministry, I believed that through the faith in the unmerited favor of God, we as believers in Christ can work through everything that confronts us in life.

The notion that providing safe, informative spaces to explore our deepest concern and fears about race, especially in the context of Black America, felt like a calling.

But from the troubling, tragic death of Trayvon Martin until the issuing of the Grand Jury decision not to indict in the death of Michael Brown, during these distressing months and weeks I have been choking on my own retreat into silence.

Silent because the question that continues to haunt me is “Is grace enough?” The words linked by the conjunction “and” are now heard as an oxymoronic statement. Silent because though these words share the same letters of the alphabet, in our current climate many will ask, what is the role of grace in these circumstances. Silent because I don’t have answers to the questions, “What message do these tragedies send to the boys of color across our nation?” “What good can possibly come out of the continued, loss of the lives of young African American men?

And yet, even without answers, I still trust in the power of God to help us move beyond these painful moments. I trust God to use the pain of today as building blocks for justice as the pain leads to constructive community engagement in the quest for justice. Through grace we can honor the wishes of the father of Michael Brown and supported by President Obama:

“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

I pray for grace. Grace is a gift from God. Through grace we will put our faith into action. Through God’s grace we find the strength to move mountains of pain and despair. Through grace, we will work for peace in the midst of injustice.

Grace matters.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

A Call to Prayer

Monday, 19 August 2013, 21:34 | Category : Events, Racial Justice
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In commemoration of the Historic August 28, 1963 March on Washington we invite you download the  March on Washington 50th Anniversary Prayer Walk Guide and Devotional

Not I

Thursday, 7 February 2013, 0:53 | Category : Ambassadors Call, Grace, Reflection
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By Pastor Kathleen Card

Author of Pray. Act. Pray Again.: A 40-Day Walk with God (with Dr. Dianne Martin)

From 1 Corinthians 15.10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me.”

So, I woke up recently with the words, “Not I” on my heart.  My search of scripture for that exact phrase revealed twenty places where it is used.  Joseph says it to the Pharaoh, the apostles use it to assure Jesus they will not forsake him, and even Judas uses it to deny betraying Jesus.  But none of those uses seemed to fit what was in my heart.  Then I happened upon the 1 Corinthians quote.  During a retreat, members of my staff and I were trying to convey how much we feel it is not what we decide to do that works in the church—but what God does in us.  We talked about how we really, at times, need to step aside and be still.

Now in a world that encourages us to “take charge” or “take control” this is complicated.  Waiting on the Lord, so to speak, can be used as a way to avoid work.  However, listening for God’s way is, in itself, a quiet task of reflection that will, as Paul describes, cause us to work harder. So my wake-up call, so to speak, fits right in with a call to prepare for a Holy Lent.  Not I, but Jesus will show us how His time walking to the cross has blessed us.  Not I, but Jesus will give us strength to complete this walk with him.  Not even we the church will accomplish any ministry if it is not undergirded by the power of God’s most holy Trinity.

So my challenge this day is to embrace the means of grace we receive through the Holy Fellowship of a Community of Faith—understanding that it is “Not We” who do good deeds, but the Power of God in us that enables us to work harder and brings us joy!

Recap Prayer and Challenge: Dear Lord, The church is one of many ways that you deliver your grace to us—help us to know that this work we do is not by our power—but by your power in us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.