Note: The Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network exists to help Anglicans in North America better reflect the diversity of the body of Christ in local churches so that our churches’ ethnic make-up manifests the universal saving power of the gospel and its ability to unite all people under the lordship of Christ. Part of that work involves dealing with the historic causes of alienation between different ethnic groups and seeking godly reconciliation. To that end, they are offering a series of resources entitled: AMEN Reads. The book they have chosen for the first edition of AMEN Reads is Gracism: The Art of Inclusion by Rev. Dr. David A. Anderson, pastor of Bridgeway Community Church. AMEN and AnglicanPastor are encouraging churches, small groups, and individuals to read this book during the season of Epiphany which begins Jan 6th, 2018.
How do we reply to the calls for justice in our world, racial and otherwise? One of the answers is to be more inclusive.
Gracism by David Anderson has aided our staff in replying to a world that is consistently being divided. It has aided our staff in having language for communicating with common language feelings and thoughts. It has aided our staff in applying the very grace that we can too often take for granted, even though we have received it, we can better appreciate its ability to unify under the banner of underserved merit, poured out from the Father, through His Son, and administered through the Holy Spirit.
In today’s world, inclusion has positive connotations, and at the same time, it can send shivers up the more orthodox of us, especially when it comes to theology, and even more so, when it comes to practice.
At Uncommon Grounds Café, a ministry of Church Army USA, we celebrate diversity and welcome the stranger, no matter the ethnicity, social status, or theological standing. Our staff is multicultural and represents different versions of the same faith background of Christ first. From Anglican to Presbyterian, from Russian Orthodox to Pentecostal, we saw the culture responding to the recent call for a greater awareness of the treatment of minorities by the majority culture.
In searching for an understanding of culture of oppression, our staff was faced with how to communicate the privileges we each experienced, and at the same time, listen with the intent of welcoming the diverse experiences we each brought to the table. We saw that we all had various views on both of these buzz words; privilege and oppression.
Since we are intentional about working through conflict, with the love of Christ and His grace, through the Holy Spirit, we felt led by God to work as a staff through Gracism. We worked through this as a staff at the beginning of 2017, following on the heels of the riot of 2016 in Baltimore and a very charged environment.
Pastor David Anderson is also the author of Letters Across the Divide and Multicultural Ministry. What Anderson does is weave the reality of the gospel of grace with a solution to racism as we understand it in Western ideals.
In the introduction Anderson offers a definition of GRACISM: Gracism focuses on race for the purpose of positive ministry and service. When the grace of God can be communicated through the beauty of grace, then you have gracism.
At first I wasn’t sure if our staff was mature enough to handle the material, the conversation, the very real and practical application of the material, but I was grateful to see them not only engage, but to repeat several themes throughout the weeks following.
Each of the chapters followed with very real questions, not only for reflection, but also for implementation. There was an encouragement to journal about a time when someone else stood up for your reputation. This and other very useful tools gave life to the already lively discussion.
Each of the chapters is a progression of what it means to be a gracist, a term that is a bit naughty to say, and even in letting the words come out of our mouth, we felt a bit rebellious. For Pastor Anderson, it simply means “positively extending favor to other people in spite of–or sometimes, because of–color, class or culture.”
There are seven sayings of a Gracist;
- I will lift you Up.
- I will cover you
- I will share with you
- I will honor you
- I will stand with you
- I will consider you
- I will celebrate you
As we entered each of the chapters, we felt a call to understand how the grace of God could have very tangible implications on our world. Come, be a gracist
Rev. Herb Bailey is the Executive Ministry Director for Uncommon Grounds Café; A Base for Church Army USA. He is looking forward to breaking ground on the community park in Aliquippa. Uncommon Grounds Café is run by Evangelists and volunteers. We reach the least, the last and the lost with the gospel of Christ through listening and offering dignity. We are a space for Churches to learn and practice the Great Commission through volunteering, work missions, and training. We are a space for transition from isolation to community.