Bonaventura Peeters’ “Sunlight on a Stormy Sea.”

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Caird Fund.

Making space for grace
August 27, 2018

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
— John Newton

When my children were young, one of the songs I enjoyed singing them to sleep with was “Amazing Grace.” I sang it so often I began to worry that one day they might fall asleep in church while singing this beautiful testimony of God’s ever-present grace.

Having spent years at sea prior to his conversion—first in the Royal Navy and then as crewman and captain of slave ships—the hymn’s author, John Newton, understood firsthand the dangers, toils and snares of life. Some he suffered at the mercy of unforgiving seas. Some he brought to bear upon others as an active participant in and beneficiary of the slave trade.

Only later, some time after his conversion, would Newton come to understand that it was grace that had been moving in his life to bring him safely through. Only later, as a participant in the movement to abolish slavery, would he come to understand this same grace would lead him home.


God’s grace is yet moving in our midst, reaching out to us, even though our lives be entangled in the brokenness and injustice of the times in which we live.

God’s grace is just as near to us and just as sufficient, although we, like Newton, may at first be unaware of its presence. God’s grace is yet moving in our midst, reaching out to us, even though our lives be entangled in the brokenness and injustice of the times in which we live.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) traces its roots to the associational movement of the early 19th century and to the coordinated efforts of American Baptists to establish churches, preach the gospel and minister to persons in special in need.

Today, ABHMS continues these efforts, joining with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. Drawing on our rich history and heritage, strengthening existing relationships, and developing new networks and connections, we seek to meet the challenges and opportunities of mission and ministry in an environment of increasing religious pluralism and secularism.

To this end, ABHMS will sponsor Space for Grace 2018: “Thy Will Be Done” Nov. 14-16 in Philadelphia. Building on the successful Los Angeles Space for Grace national gathering in 2015, “Thy Will Be Done” will provide opportunities for participants to connect with passionate speakers, workshop leaders and fellow participants in conversation about mission engagement and discipleship development as well as church and community transformation.

In the coming weeks and months, The Christian Citizen will feature articles by Space for Grace speakers, including Dr. Marvin McMickle, president, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Dr. Molly Marshall, president, Central Baptist Seminary. We will also feature articles by workshop leaders, including Karen-Marie Yust, the Josiah P. and Anne Wilson Rowe professor of Christian Education and director of the Master of Arts in Theological Studies program, Union Presbyterian Seminary; Dr. Russell Dalton, professor of Religious Education, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth; and Angela Gorrell, associate research scholar, Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and lecturer in Divinity and Humanities, Yale University.

These articles will offer a taste of what to expect at Space for Grace 2018: “Thy Will Be Done.” I hope you will find them insightful, inspiring and applicable to your own church and community context. Share them with others who may be similarly interested and join us in Philadelphia in November for what promises to be an informative, engaging and transformative event.

Through Space for Grace 2018 and beyond, we’ll continue to listen for the sweet sound of God’s amazing grace, look for its manifestation in our lives and in the lives of those around us, and make space for its healing presence and growth in the brokenness of our communities, nation and world. We do so confident that grace, which has brought us safe thus far, will yet lead us home.

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is editor of The Christian Citizen, a publication of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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