by Anna Hartge

But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste! Corinthians 15:10-11 (MSG Bible)
I read an article on our church website which challenged us to think of one word to symbolize our resolutions for the New Year. I chose the “word “grace.” Practicing grace is not just something God does; it is something we can all demonstrate. It may help to read the Encarta World Dictionary definition of grace to see “grace” in a practical application.

1. Elegance: elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form or movement
2. Politeness: dignified, polite, and decent behavior “She fended off queries with her usual grace.”
3. Generosity of spirit; a capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people

As we begin a new year, I pray we will all examine the role of grace in our daily lives. We often make grace seem so divine and mysterious that it lacks applicability to our daily lives. In church talk, we speak of grace as the “unmerited favor of God.” But as those who have accepted Christ, we are called and empowered to show grace to others.

When I was inspired to begin Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. many people asked me how I chose the name. The best answer I could offer was – it takes grace to deal with the issues of race and racism in our society. As a Christian believer, I know God requires us to respond to issues in ways that may seem unusual to others. But even some of my Christian role models seem to stumble and stutter a bit when we engage in conversations about race in America. My friends and family try to encourage me in this ministry, even if they distance themselves with phrases like, “I’m just not there yet,” “things are better than they used to be,” or “I don’t know how to help.” Quite honestly, more than a few acknowledge a spirit of frustration and hopelessness about the state of race relations in our nation. On the other hand, my husband finds some article or news event almost every day that he says I should do something about.

Race and racism still pose major challenges in America. But you and I can make a difference. We benefit from leaving our comfort zone to examine issues in their proper historical and social context. We must not give up on the possibilities for positive change. We may fail in our flesh but “by the grace of God” we can put race in its proper perspective, as a social construct rather than an insurmountable systemic obstacle. God’s grace working in us can transform us into more gracious and caring people with the ability to show respect to all persons.

Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. will continue to provide opportunities for shared learning to build and strengthen bridges of understanding and promote racial reconciliation

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1 comment

Bernadette Fowler January 11, 2012 - 10:38 pm

Thanks for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on our experience. You’re so right about the disconnect between our spirituality when confronted with race — it happens sometimes. I think it’s so important to continue to talk with one another of all races about race because we discover our differences, but more importantly, we discover our similarities, and there are so many more similarities.

I’m a native Washingtonian. During this time of great transition in the Washington, DC, area, I find myself experiencing the grief of losing a loved one. One day I miss the Chocolate City and the next day I acknowledge that it hasn’t gone away but has just moved on to a better place and if I examine my own life closely, it hasn’t changed much at all as a result of the new DC.

I moved from Washington, DC, to the suburbs over 20 years ago. On my block alone, there are families of many nationalities, African American, White, Hispanic, Korean, Indian, and an inter-racial couple. I like living in a diverse community. However, when I see the type of change occurring in Washington with the fast growth of one population, white, and an increase in the cost of housing, it concerns me greatly.

I have a concern for the young people in the African American community. Will they have the same job opportunities we had once a whole new city of non-African Americans floods the job market? I just received several applications from attorneys in NY to work here in human resources! In all of my years in the field of HR I’ve never seen this happen but it appears that people from all over the country will take any job they can find to relocate to the new Washington. Have we grown enough in our race relations that the young African Americans who have lived here all of their lives will be able to compete and be hired based upon their education, talent and potential like anyone else?

In the end it is faith that carries me through. I pray that God will continue to lead me in the direction that will allow me to do whatever work He would have me do.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Thanks so much Reverend Brenda for inspiring a moment to reflect on change.

Peace and Blessings,


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