At the Crossroads (Again)

On October 14, 1944, Lucy Byard was admitted in critical condition to the Washington Sanitarium and Hospital, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Maryland. Because of her grave condition, she was admitted immediately. However, once they discovered that she was Black (this was not immediately apparent because she was fair-skinned) the hospital arranged to transport her to Freedman’s Hospital, across state lines. While these arrangements were being made, Ms. Byard was removed from the room she was given and waited in the hallway in a robe. Although admitted in critical condition, no one at the Washington Sanitarium examined or treated her before they attempted to transfer her. She was eventually discharged from the Washington Sanitarium and transported by car to Freedman’s Hospital. She died at Freedman’s Hospital before the doctors could treat her there. This treatment enraged the Black Adventists in Washington, DC. Rumors circulated that she died of pneumonia contracted while waiting in the hallway at the sanitarium. In order to address the situation, the Vice-President of the North American Division, W.G. Turner, visited the Ephesus SDA Church, the largest Black Adventist Church in Washington, DC. In his sermon, he spoke from 1 Peter 4:12 – “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you…” The insinuation that Black Adventists should not be amazed at the substandard treatment given by their supposed brothers in Christ further incensed the people in Washington, DC. That evening they quickly formed the National Association for the Advancement of Worldwide Work Among Colored Seventh-Day Adventists. This group drafted an eight-page document entitled, “Shall the Four Freedoms Function Among Seventh-day Adventists?” This document outlined their displeasure with the Church’s treatment of African-Americans and also outlined what they felt were the ways in which the church could begin to solve the problem of racial discrimination in the church. The President of the General Conference, Elder J. Lamar McElhaney, met with the group on at least two occasions, and convened another meeting to discuss the issue at the Spring Session of the General Conference in 1944.

The solutions presented by African-Americans sought full functional membership in the Adventist Church. Among the solutions offered by the group were ending quotas for Blacks at Adventist educational institutions, equal allocations of funds to Black churches, positions for African-Americans on various local, regional, and general conference committees, and also the hiring of African-Americans by the Church. However, the leadership of the Church proposed the idea of giving Blacks their own conference structure as a solution to the problem. There were proponents and detractors on both sides of the idea, and some Black leaders had serious reservations about the motives of Church leadership in proposing this solution. After much debate, this motion was proposed and unanimously accepted on April 10, 1944:

In union conferences, when the Colored constituency is considered to be sufficiently large enough, and when the income and territory warrant, separate conferences for the Colored membership shall be organized. Such conferences are to be administered by Colored officials and Colored committees.”

Many Blacks felt powerless in coming to a solution to the problem of discrimination in the church. Joseph T. Dodson, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Worldwide Work Among Colored Seventh-Day Adventists, stated, “They gave us our conferences instead of integration. We didn’t have a choice. In the end it was better to have segregation with power, than segregation without power.”

On that day in 1944 the Adventist Church stood at a crossroads. In one direction, a solution that mirrored the worst of what American society had to offer in the realm of race relations. In another direction, the hard work of “let[ting] justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” It is unfortunate that the church on that day chose the former instead of the latter. How fortunate for the church that after more than 70 years, a group of students at Andrews University have given the church another chance. Last week, in response to unequal treatment at Andrews University, students responded with "#ItIsTimeAU," a video broadly outlining decades of unfair treatment of people of color and asking the administration for an apology in one week, among other things. As I watched the reaction to this powerful message, responses ranged from all out support to ignorance and naiveté to strident and in some cases inappropriate criticism. As a recent alum of the seminary, I can personally testify to the fact that this discussion at Andrews University is long overdue. I am encouraged by the response of the administration so far, but the road to true equality and justice begins, not ends, with an apology. In the days and weeks to come (especially today at chapel) administration, faculty, and students will have to commit to the difficult task of not just listening but also lending credence to the voice of the aggrieved and oppressed so that true and lasting solutions can be formulated. This is the work that must be done, the path that must be taken, if our church is interested in reflecting the character of Christ.

In 2017 our flagship institution stands at the same crossroads where our church stood in 1944. I pray that we make a different decision than the one made that fateful day and decide to live out what God has always required of us – “to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly” with Him.

Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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If you were to substitute “women” for “people of color” in this particular issue and knowing that in San Antonio 2015 our GC leaders summoned every ounce of their courage not to reflect the character of Christ, what would seduce us to believe that they would do the opposite for the “people of color?” Let them prove me wrong.

At some point in time, we will have to accept that our religion has its limitations.


Hummm here we go again. with Political Correctness. an orange will never be an apple. God made each genetically different. Your advice is consistent with the world. Woman as pastors and elders is NOT S.O.P. or Biblically correct. (Where the Headship?) But I do believe women can teach, even preach. God qualifies the message, not the messenger. (Early Writings) It just like the world trying to justify the Gay lifestyle, comparing it to the black suppression of earlier years. Again, apples and oranges. Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: Amo 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. We have bigger fish to catch (the world). To worn the world that a Terrible End is coming very soon. Hollywood couldn’t make a movie of it with all their special effects. And you set here worried about can women preach. with a very poor analogy, in my option.

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Whoahhh let’s not get carried away here!

@pattigrant @cincerity @bronwynreid


Shared this in a group and was informed that it cited Pipim for a source. I have always appreciated Jason Hines’ articles, but I cannot support anyone who cites Pipim. Sorry. Look up Nandipa and what he did to her among other victims. There is actually a phone record of him talking to her after he abused her. I am surprised someone so educated would use such a source. Do not all black lives matter? Or is it because Nandipa was a young women? I’m sad to say I deleted the share and will be more cautious in the future.

Are you saying Pipim is giving false information here:


The Sin We Don’t Want To Overcome


I thought the articles were very informative and disturbing. (I’m assuming Jason referred to these articles.)

If you have information to discredit the articles, not just the man, please edit your post and share.

Otherwise, information is information, it seems to me, and I haven’t seen a better source than Pipim on this issue.

I don’t think it’s helpful to actively demonize people, as if everything they ever did was tainted.

Hold them accountable for deeds, yes.


“Woman as pastors and elders is NOT S.O.P. or Biblically correct.”

Just so you are aware…there are many SDA theologians that would disagree with you (and do) but YOUR interpretation of the SOP and Bible is the only correct one.

“And you set here worried about can women preach.”

I think that you need to take this up with the Holy Spirit who keeps on giving some women the gift of pastoring and impresses them to serve. It isn’t us here who can do so- but Him.


Our church has no record of it anti-racism stance. It has always cherished racism, this is seen shamefully seen in the US where there continues to exist all black conference/unions, etc. When will the church reflect the " we are one in the Spirit". In Africa, especially, South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela refused to visit SDA gathering because our church was silent during the evil period of apartheid. Sometimes, if one is not careful, it is doubtful to believe in an integrated heaven as the church continues to preach. Hope we overcome racism in the church before Christ arrives. All documents of the Ellen White’s writings are silent on racism, discrimination against blacks in the church; was it that the Holy Spirit didnot notice the existence black people in the church as blacks suffered the yoke of legally imposed racism? Let God be our best judge and let live the teaching of the word of God. Let the Bible alone speaks as it concerns all doctrinal questions.

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the story of lucy byard is certainly a compelling one…it is also interesting, since it appears to be the proximate cause for the formation of regional conferences in our church…

but what are blacks suffering at andrews university now…what are specific, every day examples of discrimination directed towards black students attending there in 2017…the ultimatum video, ItIsTimeAU, in which it is demanded that andrews university apologize within the week, seems a bit inappropriate to me…the only current grievance i detect from the video is what is alleged to be an inadequate black representation on the faculty at AU…

but if we are focusing on past grievances, given that it’s Black History Month, can an apology for grievances in the past really be so pressing if those grievances no longer exist, and if at least some, if not most, individuals on the receiving end of that discrimination are now deceased…is the focus of AU’s black students on the present and future, or is it bogged down in the past…that is, was this particular edition of Black History Month at AU perhaps calibrated to an excessive airing of past grievances at the expense of current progress, and are the AU students in the video simply caught up in the emotionality of the idea of discrimination which they, themselves, aren’t really experiencing…

i feel these are valid, serious questions, given the fact that there are black AU students, who seem to be getting virtually no coverage anywhere, who appear to have a very different take on whether discrimination really exists at AU:


First, thanks for reading the piece. You certainly raise an interesting concern and one that I considered before publishing the piece. Let me state first and foremost that I agree with you about Dr. Pipim’s crimes against what appears to be several young women. I find his behavior noxious and do not believe that he should at this juncture be relied upon for any spiritual guidance.

However, Dr. Pipim is not being cited for any spiritual opinion in this piece. In fact he is not being cited for any opinion at all. He is being cited for the factual, historical research he conducted on a particular event. So the question for me is not whether I think Dr. Pipim is a good or reliable person at this particular juncture (I will admit that I do not believe that to be the case) but the question is whether I find his historical research able to withstand the test of criticism. I believe the answer to that question to be yes, despite my personal opinion of the man.

So here’s my thinking - As a scholar, you try to diversify your sources as much as possible so that your analysis can be above reproach. Should I allow Dr. Pipim’s vile behavior to become an albatross to this piece, and in my estimation, cause further harm, especially when the information remains accurate and unchanged regardless of his crimes? Also, it should be noted that there are not many tested resources on this subject. Unfortunately that puts me in a tough position as an academic, where in order to buttress the piece as much as possible, I have to use sources that come from people I would prefer to not be associated with.

All that said, your criticism is not necessarily unwarranted. This is a gray area where valid points can be made on all sides. Because it was something that I wrestled with before publishing the piece, I thought it worthwhile to explain why “someone so educated would use such a source.”

God Bless,



Jason, this type of reporting is long overdue. It is not just people of African American heritage who experience this treatment. People of other non-white ethnicity will have had shared in this experience. At best condescending treatment at worst undisguised racism.
However just a small tip from a pedant: the singular of alumni is alumnus. Alum is believe is a chemical substance of some type. “As a recent alum of the seminary, I can personally testify to the fact that this discussion at Andrews University is long overdue.”

I removed my post as irrelevant.

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This question has been posed numerous times over the last week. I wish to speak as someone who is white and possesses a knowledge of the campus and the situation. Black students, faculty and staff do experience various forms of discrimination–some of them are inadvertent (committed out of ignorance), others subtle, and some not-so-subtle. This happens, in spite of the commitments of those faculty and staff who abhor such things and seek to prevent them from occurring. Some of these instances are reported and able to be addressed. Others are not reported–for variety of reasons. A number of black students also carry negative experiences with them that have occurred earlier in life or in other contexts.

I do not think this is the place to air any specific examples. Nor is it uncommon for those who are not black to simply be unaware of the negative bias toward and mistreatment of black persons. But when administrators on the video say that “we must do better and be better,” they should be believed–right along with the black students who say that they have been mistreated. Over the last several days, I can assure you that those administrators have heard numerous, recent and not-so-recent examples of mistreatment on the campus. It is undoubtedly clear to them that there is need to improve the levels of awareness and competence with respect to matters of race.

I also believe that Andrews speaks not only for itself but as part of the church. It recognize that this is an issue that still deeply affects our denomination as a whole. It no doubt senses a responsibility as an educational institution to lead change in this area, not only for the good of blacks and other marginalized groups but for the well-being of our white community, as well. All groups are elevated when we address this issue with clarity, courage and compassion.


Byar’s story is shocking. It describes a dystopian, yet not so distant past when white Adventists suddenly became religious zombies whenever a black person was in sight.

Conversely, in my discussions about the goings-on at Andrews, I got a lot of defensiveness from African Americans when I suggested the same racism occurs at Oakwood college against minorities. It seems African Americans think they’re immune from being racist. African Americans are even racist amongst themselves when they use the “N-word” pejoratively to address each other.

I think we all need to accept the fact that racism and oppression of minorities is warp and woof of fallen humanity, regardless of skin color or nationality.

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If I were doing a historical piece on 1930s Europe, I would not hesitate to quote from “Mein Kampf” in spite of the character of the author if it was germaine.

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Thank you for the History Lesson.
I knew about the Washington San incident.
I knew about the Segregation at the eating tables in the GC office cafeteria.
Did not know about the NAAAof WWAC/SDA.
We needed a Martin Luther King, jr then. But did not have one.
And, unlike Martin, there were no White Pastors willing to put their employment [life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in the SDA church income] on the line with a Martin of that day and speak out or become a member of the NAAAof WWAC/SDA with them.

Is AU the ONLY place where people sense issues?

Many of my black friends will use the N word when talking about friends and associates who are black. Not so much old guys, but young guys will.

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