Andrews University Students Make Request of North American Division Regarding Conference Structure

(Spectrumbot) #1

BERRIEN SPRINGS - At a Forum on State and Regional Conferences Saturday afternoon, Andrews University students unveiled the language of an official request to the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists calling for a restructuring of conferences and an explanation of the reasons for the current organizational structure. The forum was hosted by several student organizations on the Andrews Campus, and featured Timothy Nixon, Secretary of the Lake Region Conference, Michael Polite, Associate Chaplain of Andrews University, Taurus Montgomery of the Harbor of Hope Adventist Church, Nicholas Miller, Professor of Church History at Andrews University, Dwight Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church, Melodie Roschman, Editor of The Student Movement (Andrews University's student paper), and Shastri Lloyd, a columnist for The Student Movement.

Following a panel discussion on regional and state conferences, the student leaders who orgainzed the forum, including student president Olivia Ruiz-Knott, presented their statement to the North American Division, along with a list of student organizations on the Andrews campus that endorsed the statement. The students acknowledged that in order for the statement to gain recognition, it needed to be shared through social media and email. They envited people to share the statement from the Student Association Facebook page.

The statement as presented follows:

A request from the Andrews University Adventist Peace Fellowship Chapter (APF), in collaboration with the officers of the Andrews University Student Association (AUSA), Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF), Andrews Ministerial Association (AMA), African Student Association (ASA), Andrews University Religious Liberty Association (AURLA), AULL4One (A41), Caribbean Nations Club (CNC), J. N. Andrews Honors Program, Korean American Student Association (KASA), Phi Alpha Theta, Pre-Law Society, and Saving Oppressed Servants (SOS);

To the Executive Committee of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists:

In light of the national conversations surrounding race and race relations over the past year, we have become increasingly concerned about the lack of clarity regarding the administrative separation of our church conferences along racial lines in the North American Division.

We understand that there are many strong and diverse opinions on this issue. Even within our own group, there are opinions as to whether restructuring should even be sought; and opinions regarding how restructuring could be appropriately accomplished.

However, one thing on which we all agree is that the present structure seems peculiar. Without explanation, we worry about how it looks to the outside world. We worry about how it looks to us.

Therefore, we request that the North American Division do one or both of the following:

1. Form a Commission tasked with developing a strategy that culminates in the restructuring of our conferences by the year 2020;

2. Release an official public statement, to be passed at the North American Division Year-end Meeting in the fall of 2015, clearly explaining why we maintain the current organizational structure.

This request is presented with the hope of reconciliation, in a spirit of deep regard for the sensitivity of this subject, profound respect for church order, and earnest desire for the advancement of God’s Kingdom through this unique Adventist movement.

Check back soon for a full report on the forum.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Tuffour) #2

It is a step in right direction

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

The petition while filled with good will, is totally ignorant of the power structure that has emerged within the regional conferences.They are not about to place themselves once again under the heel of the man! The petition should have been structured to place the unions under the regions and see how that would fly. They will greet each other as brother, even wash each other’s feet. but control is an entirely different issue. The white conferences created a beast they cannot control. They wanted separate but equal, well they have got it. Tom Z

(Steve Mga) #4

I believe the next episode by the Black Conference on Internet is March 15, 8 PM.
Since the Topic is so huge, I would think they would also need at least a Third
Episode after that.
I would think that ALL the “Black Conferences” hold ALL the Cards. Whatever is done
will have to be up to them, not the White Conferences, nor the North American Division
Perhaps the 4th Episode would have dialogue with Pastor Dwight Nelson and President Jackson.

(Elaine Nelson) #5

It is long past due. I am glad that there are those who are asking for explanations as to why change must be delayed one minute longer. It is a blight on the church that will not go away without radically changing the current structure. There are so many things wrong with the present situation that needs improvement that a date MUST be set for answers at fall council this year, if not sooner.

(Damian chandler) #6

Let’s start by saying I love Andrews U.

But this article is not one that this campus can support with any real honesty.

Let’s look at the associations and forums that support this statement. AFRICAN Student Association Caribbean BLACK Student Christian Forum CARIBBEAN Nations Club KOREAN American Student Association etc.

In reality Andrews is a very segregated school. Each group has its own Friday Night Service. Each group has its own sabbath morning worship service And all these racially or culturally driven services come under the cover of Pioneer Memorial Church? That’s diversity? At that church there is one day a year when African American students can share their music ONE. Diversity?

Each group has its own flag football team. Is that diversity? Us just being on the same campus but not interacting or interconnecting. They have to make a special effort for the races to worship together and it does not happen all that often. Why didn’t they same group that wrote this article dissolve all of the racially driven groups on Andrews Campus? The ones that sponsored the article?

This is the problem with us talking about diversity. We don’t really know what it means. We are happy with variety and will call it diversity. And we will push for it until it cost us personally.

But there is only one thing worse than segregation. And that is fake diversity!

If we are going to go after this thing lets do it for real. And that is a much tougher road than one racially segregated group writing to another racially segregated group about their racial segregation.

(Steve Mga) #7

What IS the Saving Oppressed Servants club???

(Interested Friend) #8

Ain’t pappy never done told these people - If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

The current system is working very well, thank you. Do these students have too much time on their hands? Maybe not enough homework?
Maybe they should be out shoveling snow and helping their neighbors. Then working in gardens when Spring comes.
It’s amazing how much wisdom students acquire in a few short years. Guess we all better to go back to the U.
In The Grip of Truth Not PC

(George Tichy) #9

Well, the students may not have all the experience we the older have. But one thing they can certainly see clearly, that the prior generations really failed in dealing with a simple thing - human equality.

Criticizing the students in a demeaning way will not help the process, it will rather reveal to the students that many from the older generation remain unable to deal with contemporary issues without being disrespectful.

The older have some experience accumulated on dealing with many issues that don’t even exist today, so it’s an useless experience. And at the same time they have no experience in dealing with those issues that the youth are dealing with today.

History only tells us that the best the prior generations were able to come up with was establishng those conferences. The existence of those conferences only reveal a total failure in interracial relationships. No wonder that what the students at AU are bringing up may disturb some older people, and the reason is simple, the older failed completely. The students are doing the best they can to find a solution, to create a better environment in the Church. Because those who may be bragging about their “experience” have failed completely. And the proof is the existence of those conferences.

I bet the students are very busy and don’t have to be lectured about the use of their time. We should be glad that they are interested in finding solutions for problems in church, and that they are finding time to invest in looking for solutions.

In The Grip of Interested Students!

(Malcolm) #10

Well meaning perhaps, but short sighted.

Firstly, there is the list of groups that endorse "racial unity’ amongst conferences. Why is there a Korean or Caribbean or Black association? Because they had cultural, ethnic, and social needs unique to them.

Secondly, whether or not “white” and “black” conferences were formed for the wrong racial reasons, they currently serve a good purpose. And that is to meet the needs that are different. In Columbus, there is a Korean church, a Ghanaian church, two Spanish churches, many Black churches, and not too far away there is a Hungarian church. No one told them they had to “stick to their own”. They chose this. Why? Because THERE IS A NEED for services that cater to their social, cultural, and ethnic differences.

Among the white churches, there are different styles of worship, progressive, conservative, and others. Why? Because they have a worship style preference.

As it plays out, the black conference in Ohio does an outstanding job serving the needs–spiritual, cultural, and racial of their members. The white conference–which includes many of the non-white churches does an outstanding job serving the same needs of their members.

I personally believe that many white people with good hearts and intentions also believe that this was created by injustice and should be corrected. But please hold on. Exactly what are you going to correct? What “fix” will you put in place that will be better for us–even if only spiritually? If someone came to my church and told me that we must change our worship style to be more progressive and upbeat to meet the needs of all, I would switch to a different congregation.

To “paraphrase” what Joseph told his brothers, in Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you [did this] for evil… but God [used this] for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Not to deride the students, but it really is hard to accept their WORDS that we should co-mingle all cultures for our benefit, when their ACTIONS are to group into separate associations because they need it. i.e., you guys mix, but we will maintain our own separate groups.

Sorry, but their actions already proved to NAD to ignore their words. And rightly so.

(George Tichy) #11

I don’t see any problem with having culturally driven churches (local churches). But, what is the need for Conferences at all? It seems that each cultural group wants to have their own conferences to just exert some power and employ more people of their own.

ALL conferences are just irrelevant and should be dissolved fast.

Eliminate the GC (and Divisions), eliminate Conferences, keep Unions and local churches only. More than enough for bureaucracy. Pay better, get more work done. "

And leave as much money as possible at local churches so that they can do their job without having to send it all to the guys upstairs in black suits!

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #12

These students are to be commended for reaching out, for engaging with (or trying to engage with) the power structure; I don’t think a document like this would have moved off-campus fifty years ago—in fact, several “underground” newspapers expressing concerns about Denominational leadership on SDA campuses were shut down in the 1960a, their writers threatened with expulsion (or expelled). So for college students, definitionally educated church members, to take agency for themselves and the future of the Denomination, which, before long, will be theirs, is a good sign. However, one suspects that should this document be publicly received, a commission will be formed, and this will drag on the way women’s ordination has, albeit for a different reason, since Biblical issues are not at stake. Check back here to see what happens around the time the Denomination enjoys the worldwide leadership of a woman of color (who has pierced ears . . . . ).

(Elaine Nelson) #13

George, you said all that needs to be done. Fat chance of eliminating all those cushy “office” jobs.

(Elaine Nelson) #14

No one need know if there are no earrings in those ears! I bet there are many women members who may have formerly worn earrings, and still do, but not often in church. But in the church I formerly attended, many wore jewelry and no one even gave it a thought; why should they? It went out with Postum and no makeup.

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #15

Women (and other marginalized peoples) hold many secrets those in power don’t want to know about—this is a form of political resistance practiced for millennia and drives the power center crazy). Ironically it’s a corner of radical feminism who holds an anti-makeup position, now. I’d say that half the women under 30 do wear earrings to church, anyway, probably depending on where the congregation is. I think SDA colleges gave that one up a long time ago—it was hopeless (and pointless). All of it is silly and pointless.

(Elaine Nelson) #16

The women’s dean at Union College in the early 40s, a very petite but strong little lady, would stand inspectionsat the door when the girls, dressed in their gowns heading toward a banquet, and look carefully at their faces. If there was a hint of rouge or lipstick, she would send them back: “Go wash your face.” Or if their gown was what she thought a little too immodest, she would send them back for another dress!

(Carolyn Parsons) #17

This diversity shows to me that there is no longer a need for separate conferences but for separate congregations that serve diverse needs with more grassroots solutions.

(George Tichy) #18

And many men wear expensive watches and drive expensive cars when they go to church as well… The same ones that, once in the building, start checking which women are wearing what. Usually these are the ones that initiate “prosecutorial maneuvers” against those who they call “Jezebelian women”…

(Rohan Charlton) #19

Ain’t pappy never done told these people - If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

Are you attempting to imitate a certain linguistic style? Combined with the condescending tone of your post it could be construed as being highly offensive.

Just letting you know, FYI.

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #20

What is a “black” church? “Black” does not connote a culture or a language any more than “Anglo-European” connotes a single culture or language. This is where he problem lies. Various languages, habits, cultural histories and understandings regarding the Denomination live among peoples of color. But we think of all of them as “Black.” Ask a Haitian how much s/he as in common with a Jamaican or Nigerian or Ethiopian. Not more than an Italian has with a Russian or Dane.