Grace Matters: A True Story of Race, Friendship, and Faith in the Heart of the South

Overview

In 1981, white college student Chris Rice thought he would take a few months off from his studies to volunteer at the famed Voice of Calvary ministry in a tough urban neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi. There he met Spencer Perkins-eldest son of John Perkins, legendary African American evangelist and civil rights movement activist-and was forever changed.

Together Chris and Spencer and an extraordinary group of ordinary people entered into a bold experiment, creating an ...

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Overview

In 1981, white college student Chris Rice thought he would take a few months off from his studies to volunteer at the famed Voice of Calvary ministry in a tough urban neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi. There he met Spencer Perkins-eldest son of John Perkins, legendary African American evangelist and civil rights movement activist-and was forever changed.

Together Chris and Spencer and an extraordinary group of ordinary people entered into a bold experiment, creating an interracial faith community called Antioch, after the Mediterranean city where the followers of Jesus first became known as "Christians." Over the next fourteen years, this dedicated group of black and white Christians joined forces to try to live the vision of the Sermon on the Mount. In so doing they not only grew in their lives together but also found new depth and energy in their ministry to their inner-city neighbors.

Even in the midst of such good work, however, Chris and Spencer struggled-with each other and in the larger Antioch community. The ultimate resolution came not through working harder or searching more diligently for a way forward but through a profound gift of God's grace. This very personal, at times painful memoir is not only a story of racial reconciliation but also of a friendship that traversed the holy, muddy ground of personal moral transformation in what Chris and Spencer called a "culture of grace."

For anyone who wonders whether true racial reconciliation is possible, this powerful book shows that it is-but only by the power of grace and through the dedication of those who seek the personal breakthroughs that can be achieved by never giving up on God or on each other, no matter what.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In this extraordinarily candid memoir, nobody is spared Rice's penetrating scrutiny, least of all himself. His account begins in 1981, when Rice, a white student took what he thought would be a brief break from Middlebury College to volunteer with the Voice of Calvary Ministries in West Jackson, Miss. It ends 18 years later when he finally did leave. In the intervening years, Rice fell passionately in love with the fight for racial reconciliation (especially among evangelical Christians), and devoted himself to it by living in an interracial commune called Antioch and developing a public ministry with his best friend, the late Spencer Perkins. More than anything, this book chronicles the stormy, often all-consuming relationship between these two men, who referred to themselves as "yokefellows." Perkins, the son of civil rights activist John Perkins, comes across as a flawed genius. His repeated failures as an administrator in various ministries contrast with his steadfastness as a friend, his unswerving faith and his gifts as a writer and public speaker. Rice portrays himself as an achievement-oriented perfectionist who suffers besetting jealousy of Perkins's attention-getting blackness, charisma and family ties. An antidote to every evangelical depiction of dramatic transformation upon conversion, this confessional autobiography shows how a household full of mature radical Christians took more than a decade to learn one of the most rudimentary lessons of faith: that grace is the essence of Christian community. (Sept.)
Forecast: This book has some significant advance buzz behind it, including magazine coverage in Moody, Sojourners, NAPRA Review, Christian Retailing and CBA Marketplace. (Publishers Weekly, August 12, 2002)
Publishers Weekly
In this extraordinarily candid memoir, nobody is spared Rice's penetrating scrutiny, least of all himself. His account begins in 1981, when Rice, a white student took what he thought would be a brief break from Middlebury College to volunteer with the Voice of Calvary Ministries in West Jackson, Miss. It ends 18 years later when he finally did leave. In the intervening years, Rice fell passionately in love with the fight for racial reconciliation (especially among evangelical Christians), and devoted himself to it by living in an interracial commune called Antioch and developing a public ministry with his best friend, the late Spencer Perkins. More than anything, this book chronicles the stormy, often all-consuming relationship between these two men, who referred to themselves as "yokefellows." Perkins, the son of civil rights activist John Perkins, comes across as a flawed genius. His repeated failures as an administrator in various ministries contrast with his steadfastness as a friend, his unswerving faith and his gifts as a writer and public speaker. Rice portrays himself as an achievement-oriented perfectionist who suffers besetting jealousy of Perkins's attention-getting blackness, charisma and family ties. An antidote to every evangelical depiction of dramatic transformation upon conversion, this confessional autobiography shows how a household full of mature, radical Christians took more than a decade to learn one of the most rudimentary lessons of faith: that grace is the essence of Christian community. (Sept.) Forecast: This book has some significant advance buzz behind it, including magazine coverage in Moody, Sojourners, NAPRA Review, Christian Retailing and CBA Marketplace. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787957049
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/23/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris P. Rice is currently pursuing studies at the Divinity School at Duke University. He is the winner of a Critic's Choice Award from Christianity Today magazine for his book More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel, which he coauthored with Spencer Perkins. He has been a research associate for the Boston University Institute on Race and Social Division, a columnist for Sojourners magazine, and has written, spoken, and taught extensively on the subject of racial reconciliation.
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Table of Contents

Prologue.

PART ONE: CONVERTED.

1. "What Are All You White People Doin' Here?"

2. Letting the Spirit Lead.

3. Middlebury Versus Mississippi.

4. The Uprising.

5. Aftershocks.

6. Puzzling Signs.

7. Big Bad Spencer.

8. DNA Match.

PART TWO: TOWARD THE PROMISED LAND.

9. Purple Comforter.

10. "One of Us".

11. Second Thoughts.

12. Robinson Street.

13. Big Moves.

14. Divorce.

15. Communion.

PART THREE: YOKEFELLOWS.

16. Boot Camp.

17. Lem's Truth.

18. Reluctant Prophet.

19. "From Cain't to Cain't".

20. Blind Curves.

21. "A Good Kinda Weird".

22. Never Forget the Source.

PART FOUR: DEMONS RISING.

23. My Dirty Little Secret.

24. Into Urban America.

25. Our Six-Ring Circus.

26. The Man in the Tie-Dyed T-Shirt.

27. Road Show.

28. Combustible Knowledge.

29. Texas Time Bomb.

30. Rescue Attempt.

31. Setbacks and Gifts.

PART FIVE: BREAKTHROUGH TO GRACE.

32. Paradigm Shifts.

33. Fifteen-Rounder.

34. Spencer's Bombshell.

35. The Unbearable Contradiction.

36. Grace Debtors.

PART SIX: SEPARATION.

37. Blue Leg.

38. Tears without End.

39. The Dwelling Place.

40. Riding Away on a Harley.

41. Sabbath.

Epilogue.

Acknowledgments.

The Author.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    Memoir tells the truth about interracial friendship

    Chris Rice tells the story of a white college student from New England moving to Jackson, Mississippi to help the poor. Before he leaves many years later he has been transformed by his friendship with Spencer Perkins and by living in an interracial Christian community: Antioch Community. This is no sugary "Can't we just all get along" picture of some idealized "brotherhood of man." Instead, this is a chronicle of struggle to understand and to be understood, pain and forgiveness, discouragement and reconciliation. In short--this book is the truth about what it will take to build relationships over the black-white chasm and why it is worth the effort. This book must be read by everyone interested in racial reconciliation, social justice, Christian community, and urban ministry.

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