June 17, 2020

A Grace Conversation on Race

By Mike Adkins

This video podcast is an extraordinary conversation for extraordinary days.

I wanted to understand the pain of racism through the voices of people we know. So, you’ll hear Frances Toddy from Winter Garden, who lost her husband last year in a tragic car accident and who is one of the quietest, gentlest, and kindest people you’ll ever meet, say that she’s “happy” people are making their voices heard in the streets. You’ll hear Tristian Curtis, whom so many know and love from our Orlando campus, share his doubts that Grace was even going to address this issue. You’ll hear Jaqua Pearce talk about the times she’s been targeted in stores for her skin color. You’ll hear our own Winter Garden Worship Director Ricky worry about his one-year-old daughter growing up with the last name Ortiz.

You may not agree with them at times. You may not agree with me at times. I’m ok with that for now. I wanted to hear them. I love them. Many of you love them, too.

Does this conversation mean that Grace condones or celebrates looting and destruction? No. Does it mean that we don’t care about and respect good law enforcement? Of course not.

Does it mean that we will risk being misunderstood in order to listen to those who are hurting the most, to address sin, and to ask God to help us be slow to speak, slow to anger, and rooted and grounded in love? Yes, it absolutely does. Jesus did that plenty of times. God’s heart for the oppressed flows in an overwhelming current through scripture. As people who call ourselves by His name, we cannot look away from our friends who tell us that this is their story.

So yes, this is an extraordinary conversation for extraordinary days. But my hope is to move Grace’s response to racism as sin into more of our ordinary, everyday conversations. Like the resource on talking to your kids about diversity that we developed for graceKIDS and parents last week. Or our new strategic partnerships we are working to establish right now that focus on the black church community. Or amplifying black and minority voices in our own church.

We won’t lose focus on our mission and the gospel. We’ll just make it better.  – Pastor Mike Adkins

9 Responses

  1. Great open and honest conversation.

    To be honest, some black people will take offense regardless of what you say and how you say it. I think white people should care less about tiptoeing around what should be said or not said as that creates hesitancy. Unfortunately, many black people equate someone being hesitant with someone being ‘fake’ aka giving a false representation of who one really is.

    A better focus would be being transparent so that intentions are easily observed. I am glad that someone mentioned intentions several times because it is a very important point.

    I say this as a Haitian American male that attends your church. God bless

  2. Such a great group of inspiring individuals. Love this so much. Thanks for bringing it home. We are all one people Gods people.

    1. We actually asked several people from Oviedo! They were very excited about the project, but either camera-shy or unavailable on that evening. 🙂

  3. Amen. This was a phenomenal conversation!

    So many things Tristian Curtis said I resonated with, from the “pick your poison” political snide, to the truth of if wanting to have conversations- then PRAYING about it, even the comically timed look at his watch at the mention of “hitting” on white privilege. 😉

    Most importantly, thank you for stressing that all divisions and caste systems are enacted by sin, by fallen men and are only eradicated by the gospel.

  4. This is amazing video and I’m so happy you guys did this. Well done and professional . The opinions from everyone was refreshing and honest. It’s important to talk about this and we need more videos out here for the public to see. It’s OK to be emotional and angry and hear this from our friends . Everyone needs a voice and people need to start listening if we want to evolve

  5. This was truly amazing. I agree that ongoing conversations regarding these topics are necessary in order for everyone to grow in knowledge and learn compassion for those other than ourselves.

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