Gracism Creed for Racial Healing

Minister David Heiliger   -  

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This solemn creed is to address the deep harm and division that racism has brought to this world; to acknowledge and repent of how the Church has too often been complicit in racial oppression and neglectful of the pursuit of true and complete justice; to lament that pain continues to be inflicted as injustice and oppression toward Black and Brown communities persists within social and political systems and at the hands of individuals as well as social and political systems in the United States (Habakkuk 1:2-5); to heal that which has been broken…

The Lord made it clear to His followers that when those who are most vulnerable and those who suffer injustice encounter the people of God, they should not just be met with religious practices and tradition-filled gatherings (Amos 5:21-24). Instead, those in need of relief would find people who declare as well as deliver God’s justice, His mercy, His truth, and His peace (Psalm 85:10, Micah 6:8; Proverbs 31:8-9).

Jesus personified this dynamic when he declared that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 58; that the Good News he was bringing would not just be in word only (Luke 4:16-20). Jesus’ ministry brought healing for the suffering (Mark 2:1-12), restitution for the exploited (Luke 19:1-10), and reconciliation for broken relationships (Matthew 5:24) culminating in the provision of eternal salvation for the entire world (John 3:16).

We find ourselves once again in a time where cries for justice fill the streets and whole communities are suffering harm. In America, these cries are coming from communities of people who are Black, Indigenous, Immigrants, and People of Color. These cries make it clear that the ravages of racism continue to bring destruction to the bodies and souls of America’s racial and ethnic minorities. Sadly, their calls for justice have been ignored and ridiculed. Those seeking to be heard have been dismissed by the very people who hold the power and have the responsibility to set things right.

Today, we, as the people of God, unite to declare that we hear those cries. They will be silenced no longer. Justice is on its way.

In order for us to confront racism, collectively, we must first commit to uncovering where it still exists, personally. Whether in my private life, in systems I benefit from, in traditions I have become comfortable with, or in institutions where I have influence, like a cancer surgeon, I commit to identifying the pervasiveness of this painful reality, and I commit to remove this corruption until there is no trace left behind. I will not absolve myself from necessary introspection by making the blanket claim “I am not racist.” I recognize this will be a lifelong journey of Christ’s sanctifying work in my heart.

As the nation decides to damn and divide based on political party alone, I will do the hard work to pursue a Kingdom unity with those I passionately disagree with. I will not allow my political affiliation to determine my allegiances. I pledge allegiance to my God first, even if it puts me in opposition to the candidate I voted for. As I lift my voice to advocate for change, whether I am using my online social media presence, protesting in the streets, or in individual conversation, instead of matching the hostility of those that disagree with me, I will match the love and wisdom of my Savior. I will be a truth teller that reveals the past and current harms that should not be overlooked. Recognizing that people are often led astray by divisive, distrustful and divergent voices online, I commit to fact checking before I repost, share, or link to stories simply because they support my side of the argument. My bridge-building voice will stand out in the chaos of polarized, politicized, and radicalized hate. I will not merely condemn injustice but work for justice that builds towards peace.

As followers of Christ are called to embody His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, we are reminded of the picture that the scriptures paint of every nation, tribe, people and language gathered around His throne (Revelation 7:9). We strive, in these days, to experience that same unity and love, knowing that in Christ alone we are reconciled to God and to one another (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). It is that message of hope that gives us the strength to persevere (Romans 5:3-5).

As Jesus’ ministry was marked by a grace that brings life, I will personally take up the calling to replace racism with Gracism. I will intentionally extend positive favor to other people in spite of, and sometimes because of their color, class, or culture.

As I seek to address issues of racial injustice and as I pursue healing for our nation, I join with my fellow believers as we commit to this creed:

LIFT
If there is justice to be delivered, we will demand accountability and pursue restoration until we LIFT up those who are being crushed. (Matthew 23:23; Matthew 18:15-17; Proverbs 31:8)

COVER
If there is mercy to be poured out, we will COVER those most vulnerable with sacrificial acts of love. (Micah 6:8; Matthew 25:40-45)

SHARE
If there is restitution to be made for deep harms and their ripple effects, we will SHARE with unconstrained generosity. (Exodus 22:1; Luke 7:47; Luke 19:1-10)

HONOR
If there is truth to be brought to light, we will HONOR the voice and experiences of those who have been silenced. (Proverbs 31:8; John 8:1-11)

STAND
If there is reconciliation to be attained, we will work to STAND in the unity that God envisioned at creation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Genesis 2:23-25; Colossians 1:19-20)

CONSIDER
If there is healing to be achieved, we will CONSIDER the needs of those torn apart by the ravages of hateful as well as neglectful racism. (Isaiah 58:5-8; Jeremiah 33:6)

CELEBRATE
If there is peace to be won we will CELEBRATE as we see glimpses of the Kingdom of Heaven come here on earth to bring the flourishing of life. (Isaiah 57:16-19; Matthew 6:10; James 3:18)

*Written by Pastor David Heiliger, associate pastor of Multicultural Bridge building, and Dr. David Anderson, author of Gracism. Approved and collectively edited by the Elders, Elders Council of Women, and Clergy of Bridgeway Community Church on September 13, 2020 (bridgeway.cc)


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Reference Verses

Habakkuk 1:2-5

[Habakkuk speaking]
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the
righteous, so that justice is perverted.
[ God speaking]
5 Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do
something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.

Amos 5:21-24

[God speaking]
I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Psalm 85:10

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Micah 6:8

[Micah speaking]
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are
destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Luke 4:16-20

He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day
he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll
of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is
written:

18
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of
everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Mark 2:1-12

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had
come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not
even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing
to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus
because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging
through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their
faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does
this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their
hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to
say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and
walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive
sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He
got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and
they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of
Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who
Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran
ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down
immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and
welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of
my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay
back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is
a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Matthew 5:24

[Jesus speaking]
leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come
and offer your gift.

John 3:16

[Jesus speaking]
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in
him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Revelation 7:9

After this I [apostle John] 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.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the
ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not
counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of
reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making
his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God
made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the
righteousness of God.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering
produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope
does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Matthew 23:23

[Jesus speaking]
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your
spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without
neglecting the former.

Matthew 18:15-17

[Jesus speaking]
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If
they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two
others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three
witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen
even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Proverbs 31:8

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are
destitute.

Matthew 25:40-45

[Jesus speaking]
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the
eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me
nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and
you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in
prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,
you did not do for me.’

Exodus 22:1

[God speaking]
Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of
cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

Luke 7:47

[Jesus speaking]
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

John 8:1-11

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered
around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the
Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the
group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In
the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They
were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they
kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who
is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote
on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until
only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and
asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Genesis 2:23-25

The man [Adam] said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she [Eve]
shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they
become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Colossians 1:19-20

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus Christ], 20 and through
him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by
making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Isaiah 58:5-8

[God speaking]
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie
the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with
shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own
flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear
guard.

Jeremiah 33:6

[God speaking]
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them
enjoy abundant peace and security.

Isaiah 57:16-19

[God speaking]
I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away
because of me—the very people I have created.
17 I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet
they kept on in their willful ways.
18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to
Israel’s mourners,
19 creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord.
“And I will heal them.”

Matthew 6:10

[Jesus speaking]
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

James 3:18

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.