A Difference in Focus

As a Millennial, I generally do not think about the General Conference beyond what my parents might say about it and to make a disparaging remark against “The GC.” The General Conference, to me, is what keeps Seventh-day Adventism from growing in acceptance and love. In looking at the theme and program for this year’s conference, I see that the focus is on Jesus’ return.

The one time that I lived in a truly conservative Adventist community during my first semester of college, I experienced this obsession with the Second Coming. Every chapel was either about that or finding a husband/wife. This focus on the future was very different from the Adventism I was raised with. Growing up in Southern California (Loma Linda) and attending Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church, the focus was on now. How can we create a heaven on earth for our community? Feeding the homeless, starting a community garden, and creating an Easter program that we actively invited the surrounding (non-Adventist) community to.

The kinds of mission statements and sermons I grew up with never had to do with converting non-believers or saving the lost, they were always focused inward. How could we grow in our personal relationship (individually and as a congregation) so that we naturally overflow to those around us? I know we are called to go into the world and spread the love of Christ, but love is meeting the needs of people wherever they are, not preaching at them about what they should and shouldn’t do.

Why does the General Conference not want to discuss issues like LGBT rights or a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body (abortion)? No one has energy to focus on what may not happen for another thousand years when there are very real issues that affect our lives now. I do not care what the GC does during this session; I have all but given up hope that Seventh-day Adventism will ever entirely be what I wish it could be. However, I know that Adventism is a spectrum and I still identify as an Adventist because I believe in the core principles it is based on. I don’t have to be a part of the conservative side – I’ve seen the beauty of liberal Adventism.

One thing I always say is, “What if we could create a Heaven on Earth so that Jesus would have no evil to defeat when He returns? I almost feel as if He is waiting for us to get it. Too many times I have heard the excuse that wars and disasters simply mean Jesus is coming soon and there isn’t anything we can, or should, do about it. Ho, hum, rejoice and prepare for the Second Coming! But the fire and brimstone of Revelation doesn’t have to happen.

What if we could change the course we are on? What if humans could be living in harmony before He returns? We could return the environment to its lush days of Eden. Women could be in places of spiritual leadership with no objection. Gay people could be free to love without fear of bullying and hate crimes (if you believe they are living in sin, let God judge). A woman could feel confident in keeping her baby because her community would support her in raising the child. Racism—a very real issue not only in the US, but in our own churches and conferences—would have an end date on the timelines in our history textbooks. Maybe not everyone would have converted to Adventism, even Christianity, but they would still be experiencing and sharing the love of Christ. That is what I wish the General Conference devoted its time to. Otherwise, I have no interest in it and I will continue to see the GC as something that chokes the life out of Adventism.

Julia Ruybalid is a graduate student at La Sierra University, pursuing an MA in English.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6940

I think she speaks for a lot of us older folk who are in a millennial “time warp”, and would wish to see the Seventh day Adventist communities NEEDED in the neighborhoods.
To be the catalyst for ALL good things happening in the Larger Communities.
In my city it is The Sunday Go To Church Crowd who are doing all the amazing things.


Thank you for your thoughts. I think it gets old when both camps, liberal/conservative, complain about the other. Provide scripture for the hope that is within you on why you advocate for the brand of Christianity that you just outlined. The bible is a balanced book; it requires Christians to be just and show love to fellow men but it also has standards. I’m in agreement with you on social justice issues, but the church cannot and should not advocate for issues that the bible has already settled. Feeding the poor yes, but on issues of homosexuality no help can be given without acknowledgment of its sinfulness.

We should all read our bibles for in it is contained eternal life, Jesus.

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Who among the church leaders are listening? It is too well known that the church is not retaining the millennials, but also the older, better educated professionals who are not employed by the church and have no reason to stay.

I’m with you, Julia, as a 90-yr-old who has been involved with the church since birth and decided to leave when it became more and more inclusive with continuing beliefs required. We can all help others with or without the church.


it is very puzzling to me, how anyone with a B.A. Degree that had even an entry course in critical thinking could abide the doctrinal egotism of Adventism. but then I stayed with the stuff because of men like Edward Heppenstall and Graham Maxwell. Neal Wilson however really opened my eyes and mind to the disconnect between institutional ism and the Gospel. Tom Z


I’m a life-long SDA. Will continue to be where ever I travel.
It IS a Fact though, that where I am at now, my Sunday Go To Meetin’ church groups [and friends therein] are what have allowed me to use all my Talents, and have helped me to discover and develop many New Ones.
I praise God frequently for my Sunday Go To Meetin’ church groups and friends and for their motto – Go out and serve the Lord.


So Iam a Gay Christian, surprise millions of Christians are Gay! and having the same moral identity you have,thou righteous one without a plank.
You call yourself a follower of the Saviour and you would not welcome a same sex family with four children is you would not embraced, nor include or empower the same sex family, into your diminishing Adventist church. How sad this is, how horrible it is!
Thank God there are other real Christian Churches around that believe in Equal love, Agape, inclusiveness the kind of Christianity that Julia wrote about.
In the west and certainly in Australia the Church is diminishing at a very rapid rate. It is only sustained by arch conservative migrants who keep the Adventist ship afloat but even their children are leaving in droves .usually to Hill Song type Churches.


Now that’s the kind of LGT I can go along with. In fact, I have frequently wondered if what the Bible says about the Lake of Fire and the Judgment of the Wicked is a conditional prophecy and if we let God fill our hearts with love, the Holy Spirit could bring us all to the place where we would be looking forward to Jesus’ coming in peace.

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Um… The real tanking churches are the ones that accepted gay folk yrs ago, especially the Episcopal church and the Presbyterian (there was an article here on Spectrum about it recently, so I am not the only one who noticed). They are almost irrelevant at this point. So if you want to see a church that is REALLy rapidly diminishing, visit them. Not only are the children leaving in droves, the old folk are too!

So Keith, if you are going to make statements, at least have the facts straight. The SDA church has issues, and the white membership is shrinking, but it is not so bad as you say, and to ignore the others that are really disappearing is to give an inaccurate impression. Try to be more honest about your stats.

Hello Mr Paulusse, thanks for sharing your concerned. First of I think we should not make our personal struggles the focus of this discussion and I do have sins of my own trust me. But I’m not going to complain that the church does not allow me to practice those. The most important point however is this, I’m only a man I can not take anyone to heaven or hell(thank God), both you and I should search the to get answers on what difficulties life throws us only then can we be safe.

God bless you and we should pray for each other :blush:

"…Pray for each other."
Is that as long as it is OUTSIDE the church, and not inside in the Foyer?

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Thanks, Julia, for your testimony. That is the kind of Movement my family has generally supported on the Left Coast of the USA for 150 years.

Give up we shall not on the movement, but the institutions may need to go into a metamorphosis machine to meet the needs you highlight.


Julia, thank-you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. I think that many of us feel the same way that you do despite the age differences. As long as Adventism keeps on focusing on what they do…they will continue to diminish in many areas. But you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and with the Spirit in your heart and soul, you will do just fine.


That many churches are “tanking” is not proof that it is because of acceptance of gays. Causation is not coorelation, to state an obvious cliche. There are numerous churches of many denominations that are dying in the NAD and Europe before the acceptance of gays.

And the fact that the NAD has lost many member cannot be attributed to that because they do not accept gays. There are possibly a number of other reasons.

Lets just stick to the issue , Gay Families are not welcome in the Adventist Corporation because they do not fit in with their ideological frame work.
Southern Baptist too are Gay haters (Excessive. - website editor) and don’t like women very much either the they too are declining by the millions every year.15 million since 1970.

Poeple do know Adventists as being insular, exclusive , dogmatic and bigoted, they not believe that Human Rights are Gay rights they are perceived to not practice unconditional love. They never speak up for the marginalised, the poor or disenfranchised in our society. That is unfortunate for Jesus whom they claim to represent.

Compared with the Uniting Church in Australia, a fusion of the Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist who welcome same sex families, have women as ministers, my local pastor is a lesbian and has a same sex family with four wonderful children whom we all love, they could never be loved in the Adventist Corporation could they? Would you embrace them Allen or would you first give them a sermon telling them how sinful they are?


Surprised we didn’t hear the retort yet that Julia Ruybalid is not representative of the vast majority of Adventist youth.
Apart from the fact that we lose 2/3 of our youth in many Western countries, apart from the fact that more and more older Adventist have lost their interest in the denomination in the last few years the issue is a serious one. It is a theological one.
The Advent hope of the pioneers let them be on top of things, busily involved in the abolitionist movement, pushing for more liberties of women (what do you think the “reform dress” was all about…), joining a health movement … you name it.
Today the Advent hope is about maintaining orthodoxy which constantly needs to be redefined in narrower ways. It’s like the speed of rotating around its own axis is ever increasing in the vain hope to spiral heavenwards.
Young people like the author of the above essay give me hope that something fresh and meaningful is happening - even if they should be a minority.


After 150 years (and counting)…the types of people needed to maintain a religious organization are simply not the personalities that start a new movement. If they could possibly be brought back to this time period- the Adventist Pioneers would not be embraced with traits such as bold questioning, strong mindedness, creativity, etc. What is needed now are more “followers” not leaders.


Keith, this topic has come up many times on this forum (even with Allen). There is no doubt that Adventist congregations, in general, are not equipped to lovingly welcome singular LGBT individuals- much less a whole family. The issue with the “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is that the hate part happens but not the love part. It is very sad to me that this kind of fear and ignorance (and sometimes self-righteousness) exists within Adventism.


Thank you Kim I agree with you…I just cannot fathom why same sex families are not welcomed embraced loved and wanted by Adventist.
I see Churches prosper in love and be a positive force in their community.
I was kicked out of the Adventist Church for just discussing equal marriage that is all, within days I was disfellowshipped over the telephone not for immorality but for free speech.
I had no theological issues absolutely .loved Sabbath school discussions they were open relevant motivating stimulating, I introduced critical thinking …and the conservatives did not like it so I was stopped from attending Sabbath school. The day I was kicked out 49 young people also left.
What a Church what a people. The only support and love I received wa from SDA Kinship and from true Christians on Spectrum.

Several months ago I published a Biography dealing with social justice of which several thousands have been sold so far and is translated into 10 languages. My second book is coming out in August.


She does not. I wish they would phrase this as the view of a left leaning, America centric millennial. I think that would be more accurate. I am often annoyed when liberals talk of young people they tend to treat them as a liberal monolith.