A Sermon, an Apology, and a Rallying Cry at Andrews University

As part of its Black History Month celebration, Andrews University invited Jaime Kowlessar, senior pastor at Dallas City Temple Adventist Church, to be guest speaker for Black History Weekend (Feb. 9-11, 2017). Kowlessar’s first sermon was during Andrews’ mandatory Thursday chapel on February 9. Shortly after chapel, complaints began to filter in to administration concerning the topic.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2017/02/22/sermon-apology-and-rallying-cry-andrews-university
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Dr Ford and I hoed corn together at old EMC. we agreed. That we were at EMC to learn enough to get out of Berrien county. he was Black and I was Democratic. neither were welcome in Berrian County. EMC was very little shelter. TZ



They should be considering themselves among the most privileged instead of whimpering.

They all have unfathomable blessings that are beyond the wildest dreams of 98% (at least) of the rest of the world.

They should be required to take a course on perspective- Planet Earth Sucks for Most People 101.


I work at Andrews and I, as well as the faculty and staff I am acquainted with, support the message of this video. Before we indulge in criticizing and blaming these students, take a moment and remember when you were young. Did you always react judiciously? Most of us didn’t. Did that make us wrong about the issues we felt passionate about? No. Let’s look past our own natural defensiveness and try to see what is being said. Our institutions were formed when racism was unthinking and separation was the norm. While we’ve moved past the separation, how much thought have we put into our institutional structures and changes that need to be made? How much does our administration and faculty reflect the constituents they serve? These students have some valid points and I think we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Starting at 7:00 this evening until 7:00 tomorrow evening our campus will be engaged in fasting and prayer asking God to show us what’s in our hearts. By His grace we will attempt to do right.


Politics should not be part of our Adventist Colleges/Universities sermons, lectures, or general courses. It is too divisive.

I was quite astonished that Black PastorJaime Kowlessar would be anti-Trump!

In 1962 I interned at the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Part of my rotations were through DC General Hospital and DC Children’s Hospital. I was a young fresh emigrant from South Africa, which I had left because of my staunch opposition to APARTHEID.

These DC hospitals had a largely black patient population. I was appalled by the plight of the inner city blacks, finding them not much better off than those in the shanty towns surrounding Johannesburg, my home town!

Now fifty five years later, our inner city blacks are not any better off, with appalling unemployment, schools which have enormous drop out rates, gangs and gun violence.

This is because most of our inner city neighborhoods have been mismanaged by Democratic Party machines for decades.

Trump promises to turn this abysmal situation around. Betsy DeVos, his new education secretary will offer charter schools and school vouchers allowing for the first time, competition to the appalling, abysmal public schools.

Trump has promised to bring back jobs, jail the gang members and restore order to the streets

What is NOT to like by blacks, who have been so woefully neglected by the Democratic Party over so many decades?

Sorry, Kelly, I do NOT stereotype blacks, since I have NUMEROUS, highly educated, professional wonderful black friends.
I also travel widely and I am fully aware of the WASTELANDS of the inner cities
of Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and others, which hopefully TRUMP will address with his policies-- he has promised to do so!
I think wonderful Doctor Ben Carson would agree with me! He grew up in Detroit!


Unfortunately your response is critical and your need to asses their approach before having an honest and uncomfortable look at your own potential bias shows that you are part of the problem.

  1. It is clear your comment was written in the passion of a moment and you haven’t done your research.

  2. Your erasure of racism within Adventist history does not do justice or honor to Andrews’ history, the greater church or its members of color. Only real truth and reconciliation can bring true justice to a legacy as complicated as this. Furthermore, the legacy of a college should NEVER be more important than the well-being of students.

  3. Asking for a conversation on race and representation is not demonizing. It’s how progress is made.

  4. When minorities in America politely ask for polite conversations on racism…it usually falls on deaf ears. If Jesus was here in this situation, do you really think he would take your route and comment on the tweaks that could have been made in a video to make people feel more comfortable? No, the Jesus I know and love would fight for truth and justice of the least of these every time.

  5. You cannot point to your perceived issues of a completely separate college as an argument for why these students can’t fight for a better AU campus. Nothing is perfect. No one in this video claimed Oakwood is perfect, and if a problem like what you mention does exist, a hunch tells me they would be more open to a tough conversation around inclusion than you. I would also encourage you to research the history of HBCUs in America and why they exist.

  6. You display a mentality of denial. It’s not healthy or constructive.

  7. No one in this video claimed exclusive rights to demand equality. You must remember the context. This video was created during Black History Month specifically about a sermon within the theme of Black History Month.

A word of advice… it looks like you and God need to have some tough conversations about your views on this topic and what was meant when he said to love others.


Sounds like a rolling snowball, accumulating more and more mass in the Michigan cold. Issues of race can be so delicate and challenging; I can’t help but feel sorrow for all sides.

Discussion is always good. Politics, it seems, is always bad.


Knowing how combustible and polarized the country has become since DT was elected president of US, did you consider other venues to carry your message other than being political? Remember, cataract is the leading cause of blindness, followed by religion and politics. In that order.

Without taking sides, you might want to remember Galatians 6:7 “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” the next time you are faced with this option.


If I recall correctly, It was a Black Brother in New England who God called prior to 1844 to present a message to those preaching the Second Advent.
Called prior to Ellen.
But he was very nervous about doing so because he was Black.
Let’s not forget — HE was God’s first choice.


Let’s cut to the bottom line… There will not be one single human being in Heaven who is prodigious against another person because of their race, ethnicity, their color, their sex, their sexual orientation, their intelligence, their disabilities or any other factors which humans poses because of circumstances beyond their control. You make another persons life more difficult at your own pearl. That is an absolute!


Thanks, god.

Lord, have mercy.


I spent the 1981-82 academic year studying at Andrews University and graduated Cum Laude (M.Div.). I never once perceived, felt or was discrimated against as a BME (Brown Minority Ethnic). I never once heard a black person (student/faculty or church member) compain about any form or shape of racism, inequality and the like during that year. I am glad I spent that one exceptional year at AU and will always cherish the amazing time studying, fellowshipping, and socialising among awesome people from around the world, including Black Americans.


Yes, Steve. It is also instructive to see how the “called” were chosen: White Male, Black Male, White Female.

If Ellen wouldn’t have “accepted” the “calling” then God may have had to go to a Black Female! It is incredibly sad to think that the culture hasn’t progressed much since then but I don’t believe that it has in the Adventist church. It appears that sexism and racism is still alive and well- even in NAD.


Let’s cut to the bottom line of your post: God is dangerous and will burn us, His children, alive if we aren’t nice to each other.

I think nothing is going to change until we re-think/re-feel/re-vision our view of God.

Ellen White said many disparate, sometimes unfortunate, things about race, but I think this one should stand the tests of time and the biblical injunction to “try all things”…

Walls of separation have been built up between the whites and the blacks.

These walls of prejudice will tumble down of themselves as did the walls of Jericho, when Christians obey the Word of God, which enjoins on them supreme love to their Maker and impartial love to their neighbors.

The religion of the Bible recognizes no caste or color. It ignores rank, wealth, worldly honor. God estimates men as men.

With Him, character decides their worth. And we are to recognize the Spirit of Christ in whomsoever He is revealed.

–The Review and Herald, December 17, 1895, Testimonies for the Church Vol 9 p. 223

People who serve a dangerous God are dangerous people, to one degree or another.

Please see: history

Personally, I think better of God.

Edit:. The last EGW line that “character decides their worth” is ethically sketchy, I think. If we say Christ died for all people, then that decides the worth of human beings.

And regarding, “We are to recognize the Spirit of Christ in whomsoever it is revealed,” that is a bit of an ethical swamp also. How can we be sure we “recognize the Spirit of Christ” in another? How can we be sure our own prejudices aren’t blinding us?

And, actually, the Bible does “recognize caste.” Many eloquent biblical sermons were preached supporting slavery in the United States.

So…I guess her first two sentences hold up, and as for the rest, I want to at least assume she meant well.

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One month every year for the rest of eternity, Black History Month. Yawn. Last year it was yik yak on Southern University at a required BHM convocation. http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/02/28/racist-social-media-firestorm-erupts-during-southern-adventist-university-vespers. This year a required BHM convocation at Andrews. Each year these speakers from Oakwood fan out across the Division and beyond taking advantage of the bully pulpit they are afforded this one month per year. Each year white students required to attend these indulgent presentations react predictably to a message of implied guilt for which they bear no responsibility.
Beyond race there is a cultural divide that the Oakwood speakers fail to acknowledge. And yet the Administrators of Southern and Andrews rush to pacify an unwarranted request for an apology. The Black Student Union clubs carve out positions of unimaginable privilege that would be derided should a White Student Union speaker be afforded a similar pulpit. (there are no White Student Unions). It is a one sided argument. The injustice that has occurred in the past is acknowledged by all. And the degree to which the effects of this injustice continues today, most would agree that there is a need for intentional remedies… From my perspective of age, great strides in the right direction have been made over the years, but there is much more ground to cover. I am not sure that the annual piligrimage of Oakwood emissaries have the credentials and standing to effect the needed change of hearts and minds. It took Moses 40 years to change the hearts of the Israelites, which in actuality was just letting that generation die off. A new generation ready to move into the promised land is always in the wings.


The above story and some posts here have saddened me. To recap:

A visiting black minister chooses to call the President of the United States of America a racist and xenophobe among other divisive, slanderous, and demonstrably false accusations from the (bully) pulpit of Andrews University. (Dr. Benjamin Carson may have a slightly different viewpoint :blush: .) As instructed by the NT the minister could have been calling for prayers and Godly intercession instead (see 1Timothy 2:1-3).

When the inevitable push back resulted in the University apologizing for his remarks some Black students felt hurt. A group of them, abetted by the African American Chaplain, then put out a grievance video alleging “systemic racism” and demanding certain things such as “providing classes that are taught from a perspective other than the perspective of Eurocentric values;” the inference being that racism is an ongoing institutional problem at Andrews.

However, the main examples set forth refer to decades past events such as a segregated cafeteria and cross burning. The prima fascie evidence is that a true grievance was recognized and rectified some 40 to 60 years ago when cafeteria desegregation occurred. The fact that crosses were burned on campus in no way implicates Andrews University systemically as instigator or condoning such behavior. A further charge was that Black worship was being “demonized.” You can decide for yourself if calling out a person, black, brown, asian, or white, for using partisan and slanderous language from the pulpit is “demonizing worship.” If a white person said those things about President Obama what would have happened to them? AU pushed out an apology video in less than a week to meet the demands.

I believe President Luxton had at her disposal a wealth of substantive, significant documents which would have put a much needed historical narrative on the table. In medicine when perception fragments from the context of reality it’s called Schizophrenia. What happened at AU needs context. It’s a failed, chaotic, and incomplete thesis without it. I suspicion much of what the group demanded apologies for have already been addressed years ago! In short, has “systemic racism” not been addressed until now at Andrews or is it only the perception by some that it hasn’t been addressed?

There is no doubt racism in the SDA Church occurs. The events at AU are small ball compared to the real issue.

It’s a dirty little secret that there is a powerful group of North American Division SDA leaders who will not integrate their Black or White led Conferences and Unions even now, in 2017. Why?

How can the Church hold legitimate conversations about gender, women’s ordination, or racism when our leaders choose not to unite and consolidate? It is a convenient, chosen apartheid.

Please pray for the Church and our government leaders. I personally hope AU will choose to provide classes that are taught from a perspective other than the perspective of Eurocentric or Afrocentric values; namely Christcentric values.

And, by the way, we’re all “people of color.” That type of separatist attitude is what got us into this mess.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” MLK Jr., (from his “I have a Dream” speech, 1963)

As the old Apostle said “…there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Romans 10:2.


I see my post has not been thought relevant to the discussion, and so has been removed. I was trying to give background information on why moderns should wake up accept the concept of so-called “racial equality” Socalled since most modern genome scientists reject the idea of there being separate races , pfreferring to highlight the fact that amnkind has adapted itself, via natural selection(which is NOT evolution per se) to environmental challenges, for example expressing melanini different shades, depending on protection needed from our star. White is not a shade of melanin,(such as black, yellow, brown,red,and so on) but a relative absence of melanin, but everyone still has an inherent ability to produce any shade. More attention should be given to science/history and so on This is a tiresome argument. My father used to give short shrift to the race question. He felt that there could indeed be humans superior to himself and he would publicly acknowledge this in any fora, given ONE demonstration …they must be able to prove they cannot die. ALL else boils down to circumstance, opportuinty, and so on.He felt only GOD could not die, and trhat even Jesus was crucified. Apparently he did not hear of Simeon Toko, the immortal God-man.

MLK from his Nobel speech was quite comfortable criticizing politicians. Here’s what he said about Barry Goldwater: “The American people revealed great maturity by overwhelmingly rejecting a presidential candidate who had become identified with extremism, racism, and retrogression”

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Vicious unconfirmed rumors have it that the Black-led money coffers are much healthier and viable than the White-led money coffers, including the retirement accounts. It would only make sense since it is the white conferences who are reaching out. It would be nice to have Balance Sheets of both conferences published for everyone to see.

I can only dream.


Well, good for these kids (they are kids to me); were I one of their parents or one of their professors, I’d be proud. The clip is mature and well-produced. And timely (at the same time fifty years in the making).

Separating Church from State (the issue that promoted this long-overdue video statement) is always dicey, and we’re still not good at it, but when a politician speaking for all Americans crosses a line, she or he should be called on it—what if our president had called for required Sunday-keeping or recommended laws that forced citizens to work on the Sabbath?

Someone needs to do some research on how Adventists did or did not support President Wilson an admirer of the Ku Klux Klan, or did or did not support other presidents from the pulpit. Not hard. The White Estate would know.

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