GRACE SNELLVILLE STATEMENT AND STRATEGY ON THE GOSPEL AND RACE

Note: The following was drafted in November 2020 by a team of 30+ Grace SN elders, staff, and church members who represent a healthy cross-section of the diverse communities comprising our congregation and surrounding community.

STATEMENT:

At Grace Snellville, we wholeheartedly affirm that every person bears God’s image and warrants God’s love. At the same time, we broken-heartedly acknowledge that significant parts of our American society and American Christian community have too often supported attitudes and structures of racism that demean, devalue, and dehumanize others. Because of this, we are committed not only to embodying God’s delight in diversity but also to “breaking every yoke” of injustice within the range of our influence (cf. Isaiah 58:6, CEB).

According to the Apostle Paul, the reconciling work of Jesus Christ makes peace and opens the way “to create in himself one new humanity” (Eph. 2:15, NIV). Revelation 7:9 provides a glimpse of that one new humanity in eternity: “a great multitude that none could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne [of God] and the Lamb” (ESV). Together, these two passages illustrate the vision of Scripture for diverse peoples both perfectly unified in Jesus and eternally unique in their respective ethnicities, languages, and cultures.

That vision remains as audacious today as it was in the first century, but at Grace Snellville we have faith that by God’s grace we would continue to become and comprise a community of equals hailing from every background, ethnicity, and culture who work together for the good of God’s Kingdom. We will not tolerate any kind of racial discrimination, bias, or prejudice, and we will seek to bring any such individual or systemic discrimination into the healing, reconciling reality of God’s Kingdom.

Our mission at Grace Snellville is to equip one another to follow Jesus well into the neighborhoods, nations, and the next generation. For us, engaging realities of race and diversity is not a distraction but rather a discipleship opportunity. Moreover, we view it as part of our mandate from Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19, ESV). Together, we commit to this mission of following Jesus well and helping others do the same so that we can demonstrate the destination of one new humanity on earth as it will be in heaven.

STRATEGY:

  • Awareness/Equipping: We will offer training and resources to equip our community for the difficult work of reckoning honestly with our history, engaging actively in our present, and dreaming biblically for our future.
  • Relationships: We will foster intentional and meaningful connection within the diverse peoples of our congregation and wider community in order to break down bias and build up humble mutuality among real friends.
  • Action: We will wisely partner with individuals and institutions to enact services and policy to combat racism and cultivate both societal gains and spiritual communities.

KEY SCRIPTURES

  • Genesis 1:26–28 (ESV) 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
  • Leviticus 19:9–18 (ESV) 9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. 11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
  • Psalm 10:18 (NLT) 18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.
  • Isaiah 58:6 (ESV) 6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
  • Isaiah 60:1–3 (NLT) 1 “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. 2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. 3 All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
  • Matthew 25:37–40 (ESV) 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
  • Mark 12:30–31 (ESV) 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
  • Luke 4:17–21 (ESV) 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
  • John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  • Acts 17:26 (ESV) 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
  • Romans 2:11 (ESV) 11 For God shows no partiality.
  • Ephesians 2:14–16 (NIV) 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
  • Philippians 2:1–4 (ESV) 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Hebrews 12:14 (ESV) 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
  • James 2:1, 8-9 (ESV) 1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. … 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
  • Revelation 7:9–10 (NIV) 9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Grace Snellville News

Grace Snellville News

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