In the last year there has been heightened coverage in the media around the issues of race and violence, including the tension, apparent at times, between communities of color and the police. More recently, students of color on college campuses have been speaking out about historical and contemporary experiences of racism and discrimination. How can the gospel help us to grapple with the complexity of these issues? How can the love of God who reconciled himself to us through Jesus provide a way forward that points us toward hope and renewal?
To create space for important questions like these, Grace & Race — which seeks to help the Redeemer community wrestle lovingly and winsomely with issues pertinent to race and the gospel of grace — is hosting a series of three events this winter-spring. They are stand alone gatherings but are intended to move us as a community from a personal understanding of race and racism to a more systemic grasp of how racism manifests itself in the U.S and how the gospel shapes our response.
The first event entitled “Why Race Matters to God and What That Means for Us” will be held on January 14 at the Redeemer office. East side Lead Pastor Abe Cho will give a talk about what the Bible has to say about race and reconciliation. Then, other staff and leaders will speak about their personal experiences of race. Attendees will also have the chance to process these talks in discussion groups. Space is limited but the event will be recorded and made available on the Grace and Race page of the Redeemer website.
The second event will happen in March and involve neighborhood walk-throughs where people will have an opportunity to visit community-based organizations affiliated with Hope for New York or churches that were planted by Redeemer City to City. The idea is for us to learn about the specific neighborhoods where these groups work in order to understand their unique history and challenges. We also hope to explore the particular issues of race, ethnicity, and justice that these neighborhoods and organizations encounter in our own city.
The final event in this series will be a talk on May 20 with Tim Keller and Bryan Stevenson, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (eji.org). Stevenson is also the author of the New York Times best seller, Just Mercy, which you may have seen in paperback at a Starbucks this summer. Stevenson’s work centers around providing legal representation to those on death row, decreasing the U.S. prison population over the next decade, and seeking to create a renewed and more honest conversation about the effects of slavery and lynching on this country.
We welcome prayer for these events and hope you will consider attending one. Better still, come, and bring a friend.