America is Hurting. Where is the Church?

America is hurting. America is burning. Can America survive the violence by the men and women who are supposed to protect us? Can America survive those who are destroying businesses in the name of peace and equality?

These are questions many are asking in the wake of the unrest happening across America.

Writing this on Sunday, May 31, I once again find myself locked down in my apartment; this time due to, not the pandemic, but to the violence and destruction happening in Denver.

Fear came frighteningly close to our Conference office over the weekend as the violent uprising moved from downtown Denver into the surrounding neighborhoods. Our country’s issues came too close for comfort. Can we allow the violence and destruction to take place blocks away without doing something, without changing the way we live? We can’t be silent any longer.

Frankly, I’m appalled by the video of the police officer murdering George Floyd, but what can I do?

Racism is just one piece of what is happening in America. Behind it came destruction. It may not affect me, my family, or my church family, but doing nothing doesn’t seem to be the best response.

“As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we cannot sit back quietly at a time like this! When satanic forces create injustice, we must speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters who have no voice,” said Ed Barnett, RMC president, on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Conference. “That [the violence we see] doesn’t give us license to do evil. It gives us license to love like Jesus loved! And believe me that will make a difference.”

Racism is nothing new. It was around long before Christ walked this earth. When Christ came, He not only came to save us from our sins, but to be an example for us on how to live. He spent a lot of his time with people, who for centuries had been spit upon, beaten down, and yes, even targeted by government and ecclesiastical officials.

“Adventism has long been a movement that has grasped prophecy as necessary and relevant. In this time of upheaval, led by an oppressed group, it is necessary that Adventists acknowledge that in aligning our voices and actions with freeing the oppressed, we continue the prophetic understanding of Adventism,” said Jenniffer Ogden, pastor of Boulder Adventist church.

What did Christ do? Did He march? Did He release a statement on behalf of the temple condemning certain actions? Was He overwhelmed with anger destroying shops in Jerusalem because of the evil and violence He witnessed? Did He give up and let evil win? Did He lose hope?

“To remain silent sends a loud message that I am apathetic about George Floyd’s murder, about the abuse of power, about the racism that leads to actions that demoralize, dehumanize, and minimize, or that my heart isn’t aching for his family and so many of my friends and family who have endured abuse, hatred, and other atrocities like this for way…too…long. Why? Because they don’t fit the narrow mold determined by some as acceptable citizens,” Diane Thurber, commented on Facebook.

“It is not Christlike to remain silent when any segment of our society is being subjected to injustice! We must clearly and loudly speak up to condemn, and actively reject racism and any other form of oppressive evil within our society,” said Daniel Birai, pastor of Fort Collins church. [See full statement below]

I am white, so I don’t know the fear that my brothers and sisters experience whenever they leave their home. “Is this the day I’m going to have a knee held on my neck for nine minutes?”

I’m single, so I don’t know the fear parents experience regarding their children. “Is this the last morning I’ll be able to hug my children before school?”

I’m an American citizen, so I don’t know the fear my immigrant friends experience. “Is this the day ICE will break down my door?”

For some, the fear is unremitting. We live in an evil and fear-filled world. So I ask, where’s the church? Have we ignored Jesus’ words, “Love thy neighbor”?

Is there any hope?

While many people may be losing hope that real change can happen, hope isn’t gone. When we love our neighbor, hope returns, it lives. Where hope lives, Christ lives.

“My voice matters. Let’s be angry, speak up, love and hug everyone and anyone,” commented Rajmund Dabrowski, communication director for RMC. “No might will prevail. Love will. Tears have no color,” he added.

“I admit and recognize that equality and justice have never truly been realized in our nation for some groups of people,” Christopher Morris, associate pastor of Littleton church stated. “I’m going to be intentional and active towards changing that reality.”

“We stand with Jesus as we support and uplift the widow, the orphan, the captive, the impoverished, and the oppressed.” Ogden stated.

Let’s stand up and advance God’s kingdom here by living out hope.

“I love seeing my generation stand up to racism, but is there a place for that in our churches? I believe our church’s response to this blatant and disgusting racism will cause teens and young adults to either lean into or away from the church once again. So, I beseech the church that I love…Step up! Speak out! Say the names of those murdered at the hands of police brutality. Let your actions proclaim that black lives matter. Stop making excuses,” commented Jessyka Dooley, RMC assistant youth director.

“Pursue justice and equality with passion. Do not be lukewarm on the issue of racism or I, and many of my brothers and sisters, will spit you out. This is not a flowery comment on an issue many hesitate around, but rather a plea for our church to be better and live on earth as it is in heaven,” she continued.

Are we going to live a life in an ignorance bliss-bubble, or will we take a step forward and repent for staying quiet too long? Christ has called us to action. He’s been knocking for a long time, and it is high time we answer the door instead of ignoring His invitation to be present where we are. No matter how difficult.

Full statement by Daniel Birai:

I have grown up with the idea that our role as Seventh-day Adventists was to preach the “gospel”. This gospel focused on defending the 10 commandments, especially the Sabbath, and a focus on doing the right “things…not going to watch movies, dressing appropriately, not eating meat, and so forth…” Speaking about social issues, such as racism and poverty, or community outreach that wasn’t explicitly aimed at drawing people to a bible study or a Daniel/Revelation seminar wasn’t celebrated, or even encouraged. The thought was that we couldn’t fix everything, and instead needed to keep our eyes on the ball by spreading the “gospel” as far and wide as we can. After all, “Jesus is coming soon!”

As our country and nation dealt with different issues, such as police brutality, treatment of immigrants, among others, I was often counseled some well-meaning friends, loved ones, and church leaders not get mixed up in issues that would cause controversy and division in the church. On the other hand, I watched some friends in the ministry break the norm by actively speaking up about social issues affecting communities and churches. I felt torn. Meanwhile, I witnessed an exodus from the church of fellow millennials due to their perception of a disconnect between our message, Scripture, and our actions. We preach about love for our neighbor, what it means to be a Good Samaritan, defending the weak and the fatherless, while repeatedly walking right past our brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve repeatedly been beaten by our country’s unfair systems and left for dead by the side of the road. We’ve failed to acknowledge their plights, offer words of comfort, or speak on their behalves when our voices could have made a difference.

As I prayed and became a student, listening, asking questions, and thinking, I’ve come to realize that the Bible is very clear about what we Christians ought to do when we witness unfairness and injustice:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8,9.

I have concluded that it is not Christlike to remain quiet when any segment of our society is being subjected to injustice! We must clearly and loudly speak up to condemn, and actively reject racism and any other forms of oppressive evil within our society.

In the words of the great MLK, “[t]he ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over the good people.”

This article was written by* *Jon Roberts, communication/media assistant for RMC, with input from Rajmund Dabrowski, communication director, and was originally published by RMC NewsNuggets, and is reprinted here with permission. Photo courtesy of RMC website.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10503

The church is at home, safely ensconsed in the quarantine.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8,9.

you need a working economy not closed and at a stand still it all cost money
and the riots just will cost more money domino effect - just keep protesting and not work
like before the flood people where lazy

look at the protesters with expensive camera’s they are career activists that don’t work and have youtube channel’s and are funded by gofund me or patreon
its a well organised group

talk is cheap by you writers

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You’re comment is the reason for the protesting! Thanks for making it perfectly clear! Can not think of a better way to say one doesn’t have a clue. Very Sad.

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what are the solutions I am in construction and was always a advivcate for affordable housing
it all costs money
let me know if you have the answers otherwise its all hot air
like I said on other platforms better that black and white picked up a broom and started cleaning up

let me know what king lost favor with GOD and heavily taxed his people

america may also be leading the world in what seems quite supernatural: thousands upon thousands of people, mostly young people, pouring onto city streets day after day, and night after night, almost as if they’re following some kind of cue, like what we can imagine must have been the strange pairing of the world’s animals and their march onto noah’s ark, just before the destruction of life on earth at the time of the flood…what we are witnessing feels much more than collective action over specific grievances…it’s almost as if we’ve passed a point of no return…

i think the combination of covid and the floyd murder has demonstrated just how quickly and thoroughly the entire world can be brought to a halt, and then be forced to confront a serious issue…is this what the latter rain and the loud cry will look like, just before human probation ends, and the world is plunged into the time of jacob’s trouble, shortly before the unimaginable spectacle of the return of christ and the end of time, as we know it…will what we’ve been taught to expect, from cradle roll on up, unfold as swiftly, forcefully and decisively…

i feel like i’m living in prophetic time already, as if the time of easy, predictable living is all in the past…i feel like i’m standing on rapidly receding surf: i’m standing still, but i seem to be moving rapidly forward at the same time…

covid, and then the floyd murder, came as a one-two punch, literally out of thin air…no-one could have seen any of it coming…so what’s next…it does seem as though something huge is next…

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This kind of mentality is frightening. Your not any part of the solution, your the problem.

There are professional protesters if they don’t exist your being ignorant
They work in all activism groups and cross all platforms
I went to a secular university and was always handed the leaflets at the entry and always the same people

The protesters are a mixed crowd and the FBI know this some genuine and there are professional activists youtube’s look up there profiles . Patreon accounts
And it is politically fueled given the anti trump narratives.
We need to look at the evidence not pick and choose

Blessed are the peace makers

May be fix homelessness first
Ohhh that’s right Elon musk contemplated moving to TEXAS what would happen for jobs in LA

Did the church lobby and protest legalization of marijuana there is a tapestry of systemic issues ?

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Hi Jeremy,

Your comment made me think of a video Pr. Ivor Myers put out a week ago and has since gone viral (almost 90k views already). The title of this article reads, “America is Hurting. Where is the Church?” His sermon is an answer to that question - though for those who have fixed positions I doubt it will do much. I think you will find his sermon immensely encouraging and uplifting. It really is that good. He says something at the start about how he hates racism, but then adds something to it right at the end which is brilliant.

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Great video. What is being missed, like the forest for the trees, is that the way to get the “slaves off the plantation” is to quit making them think they need white man’s condescending benevolence in order to “make it”.

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As a person of color - Thank you. This statement says it all perfectly. I have been asking this question for the last two weeks.

See I was right without even doing research

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thx so much, tony…i’ll look at it later tonite…

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Excellent. It’s actually funny how SDAs who have swallowed the far-left bologna can’t be nuanced enough to actually do some research. Just wait when 911 gets wiped off your phone - maybe then someone will wake up and smell the stench of the brew they’re cooking.

I’m curious - so only black lives that are taken by whites matter; or can the overwhelming numbers of blacks killed by other blacks matter as well … The truth is this refrain has become a political mantra and has nothing to do with concern for black lives. Who actually is Sorros anyway?

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Well it is popping up on the media feeds today

So did the DENVER SDA lobby and demonstrate against legalization of marijuana ?

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Is this what it takes? For the “violent uprising” to threaten the comfort of our white leaders in their headquarters and homes? This sort of violence has threatened our black leaders and members for many decades, and the church really hasn’t given a fig. But now that it has visited our doorstep, we say, “We can’t remain silent any longer.” The question is not “America is hurting. Where is the church?” But “Black America has been hurting for decades. Where has the church been?” I’m grateful for your awakening, white church. But Black America was burning long ago, their churches literally torched. Sorry, but this isn’t the end of the world. It’s the end of a comfortable white world, lived apart from Black pain and suffering.

As for next steps. More needs to be done than simply raising our voices against injustice, as important as that may be. White leaders and members need to educate themselves as to the best expressions of the gospel in the midst of racial injustice. This means understanding the roots of racism in our society, the historical complicity of the the church in racism, how racism manifests itself today, the role that unjust systems play, and how white Christians can re-imagine their identity and and their role in society so as to bring about justice for all. This will take a tremendous amount of work, commitment, and backbone. It will mean standing against (and, at times, not tolerating) the sort of racist trolls that love to inhabit our threads and feeds. It will mean institutions turning down the money of white donors who threaten to pull out if a chief diversity officer is hired. It will mean having the courage to see some white members go to another congregation after the issue is addressed from the pulpit. Make no mistake about how difficult it may be. But we can begin today. We must begin today.

best way to help black lives
is EGW HEALTH MESSAGE AND THE 3 ANGLES MESSAGES

You think that’s better than trying to get cops to stop harassing and killing black people, and also work to pull them - and other marginalized groups - out of poverty?

I would not argue for one minute that there are professional protesters. But I would not call the looters protesters, they were there in large part because extreme left and right groups were agitating, coordinating and driving the destruction through social media. Their motives were for evil, not for making society better. These groups were not working together but working from opposite points of view but both were doing their best to ferment aggressive and destructive behavior. The leftist rioters were there to punish the establishment, which did a lot of harm to the vast majority of peaceful demonstrators message. The Rightest and even white-supremist were there to try an ferment hatred toward the black community. Their motive was to say "see, all these black folk have no moral code, they are simply a morally depraved group of people who must be “controlled”. I think the presidents word was dominated…same difference. (even though there were many white looters as well, I know because I saw the videos, The way both groups manipulated the crowds was through social media. They would say where and when, and then the opportunists would show up. I saw a whole news report on both groups. And your right, these were “professional rioters”, and they WERE from both the Right and the Left.

They hurt the real message and they should be locked up, all of them including the instigators. But the real message must not be lost because of the actions of these factions. Black people are disproportionally being jailed, beaten and, as we saw, killed for little or no reason. We don’t even know if Mr. Floyd even knew that the bill he was trying to spend was counterfeit. A cruise line passed a 100 dollar counterfeit bill to my wife and only when she went to the bank, did she find out it was counterfeit. To kill someone for this is insane.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the police have a disproportionate amount of bad characters even though that percentage is small in number. It is the nature of the position. People in society who feel they don’t get respected, tend to gravitate to positions which give them a false sense of superiority. A tin badge tends to promote that kind of reasoning. It is hard to know all the reasons, but I, a white male, have observed police on more than one occasion who’s adrenaline rush clouded their thinking. And stereotypes in the minds of officers who, even subconsciously, profile people, doesn’t help either. Most are honest, caring people. It only takes a small bunch of the kind of officer we saw with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck to foster distrust in the whole system. But things have to change. Just adding more police and more jails is not even remotely a solution.

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If religion was/is going to change anything, then why hasn’t it been able to do it over the thousands of years. EGW and 3 Angels message is going to change racism? I do think we are being ‘trolled’!!