North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Affirms Role of Regional Conferences

(Spectrumbot) #1

On March 25, 2015, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists affirmed the need for regional conferences in an official statement:

The North American Division has been given a mandate by both God and its constituency to serve one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world. Since a request has been formally made to clarify the history and present role of its Regional Conferences, which have been a valued and integral part of our North American Division governance structure since 1944,

We resolve that:

Whereas the North American Division is one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the World…

Whereas the North American Division is presently ministering in a racially-charged society…

Whereas, the effectiveness, challenges, and history of our Regional Conferences need to be better understood...

Whereas, there is a growing number of requests for the NAD leadership to clarify the history, mission effectiveness, and cultural relevance of Regional Conferences...

We vote, to affirm that the historical establishment and current role and function of Regional Conferences are structurally essential, mission effective, and relevant in reaching the diverse populations and urban centers within our division.

The Administration of the North American Division and the Administrations of our Regional Conferences are deeply committed to continuing our mission focus and evangelistic unity as we seek to fulfill God's commission within our territory.

Throughout our division we will continue to seek ways and means to further racial cooperation, understanding, and growth.

The statement comes in response to several recent requests and critiques of the current conference structure.

During a forum on state and regional conferences held at Andrews University on March 7, 2015, students unveiled the language of an official request to the NAD calling for a restructuring of conferences and/or an explanation of the reasons behind the current organizational structure.

Earlier in the year, on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Dwight K. Nelson, the senior pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church preached a sermon calling for racial unity within the church, and a subsequent petition on asked Adventists to add their names to a list of believers who feel “it is high time we all come together ‘on the basis of love’ (Philemon 9) and model to society unity that only Christ can bring.”

Reactions to these requests were mixed. Just over 1,500 individuals have signed their name to the petition, with a majority of those signers observed to be Caucasian. Those who who favored maintaining the current structure were quick to point to a perceived lack of “understanding of why and how regional conferences came into existence” and reminded fellow Adventists that “black conferences do not stand for segregation. Rather, they represent a revolution against segregation.”

On Saturday, February 28, the Allegheny East Conference held a town hall meeting on Regional Conferences entitled "Are We Still Relevant?" hosted by pastor Pastor Frank E. Legette III. During the event, Legette and leaders of the Allegheny East Conference made a strong case for the continued relevance of and need for Regional Conferences, particularly in service of metropolitan areas.

The NAD’s statement reaffirms the importance of regional conferences to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor for Jared Wright contributed to this article.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

a rational, compelling, politically sensitive reality. Tom Z


Unio et Unitas sunt maximale diversa. Thanks to the NAD for fostering unity of faith and diversity in mission.


In this situation I’m in agreement with NAD.

IMO Dwight Nelson’s intrusion into this area of denominational structure was neither wise nor within the scope of his assignment.

Shouldn’t the leader of a church which many students attend deliver a message that challenges one’s individual spiritual experience rather than stirring up a hornets’ nest?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

I think that a minister should challenge thinking, but not necessarily define or limit thought. if Dwight was prescriptive then he make have over stepped the bounds. Take the issue of foot washing. The point was not simply a ritual but to,serve as an example of service.Matt 35 explains the range of that service. Today I can and do bathe myself,but 7 months ago I couldn’t, Thank God there was someone capable and willing to assist me. Foot washing is no substitute for serving one in need. Tom Z

(Steve Mga) #6

When we think of ALL our Traditions and Rituals, such as the Role of Regional Conferences, it is good that periodically questions are raised as to their continued validity.
This question raised by Dwight was good. Was timely. Was necessary. And the discussion here and elsewhere was constructive.
The declaration by the NAD regarding the continued need in some areas of North America show a wise response.
The only thing I would like to see is where there are 2 or more SDA churches from 2 or more Conferences in a community that provision be made for ALL SDAs of both conferences socialize together, and evangelize the community together as One SDA Church.

(k_Lutz) #7

Matthew 35?? Perhaps 25, as 35 has not been canonized yet.

Trust The Process.

(David Read) #8

There seems to have been some confusion, and the NAD has cleared it up: The SDA Church’s doctrines are all up for grabs (and are an unimportant nuisance to the church bureaucracy anyway), but the structure of the bureaucracy was written in stone and is no more to be tampered with than the sun’s rising in the east and setting in the west. Any questions?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #9

a typo I missed, I do a Loy of that lately. Cheers! Tom


So, what exactly does this statement clarify? Why, how and when did the regional structure originate?

(Carolyn Parsons) #11

It clarified that they need to do better at communicating the reasons without communicating the reasons. They are committed to committing.

(Andy McDonald) #12

I think they meant to say that the NAD and Regional Conferences are “deeply committed to continuing our mission focus and evangelistic unity as we seek to fulfill God’s commission within our [OVERLAPPING, ADMINISTRATIVELY REDUNDANT] territory.” It is embarrassing that we have racially determined governance structures in the United States today right beside integrated governance structures. When we look at the economics pulling redundant support from local churches of all conferences and reducing the financial support of fulfilling the Great Commission, it may elevate to another of the many immoral waste of resources just to maintain a flawed system that contributes to ethnic silos and continued disunity of the church.

(Servo) #13

The issue of our day is WO. And it is divisive. Smart of the NAD not to add the Regional Conferences dilema, another potetialy divisive issue, to its full agenda. But it needs to be addressed. But no movement towards a more unified structure will take unless there is significant support from among thought leaders within the Regional conferences. What some seminary students see as an outdated structure which did have a purpose for its existence but may no longer be needed in our current experience and context regarding race relations, and might even be counter productive to our mission in an ethnically integrating NA society, might become a reality in their lifetime. Let the dialogue continue … after the dust has settled from the WO issue.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #14

The pulpit can be a very bully place… Ben Carson is another notable example. pastor Nelson has a pretty good track record. I think the issue has been well resolved at the correct level. Tom z

(Steve Mga) #15

In my opinion, I think the Regional Conferences, looking at the territories of the U.S. where they function in, probably would be most effective reaching those they market to.
If I was a Southern Black person I would NOT be attracted to ANY white SDA churches just based on their style of worship.
Southern Black churches definitely have More Fun and have more creativity in their worship style.
I havent worshiped with blacks in mid-america or in the west so I cant speak for their preferred style of worship.
On other Spectrum places it was mentioned that when Blacks 'invade" White churches, that the Whites move out. Perhaps this is the Issue. Black Worship is the Having Too Much Fun and Whites do NOT enjoy Fun in Church.

(Carolyn Parsons) #16

Out west, it is pretty much the same. A 2 hour sermon with the last 45 minutes building into a crescendo of glorious dancing in the aisles, waving back and forth in the pews, shouts of glory and halleluiah; the drums all heated up and the organ playing at top volume. After potluck it is back for afternoon programs. I never had the stamina to stay for those.

(Peter Marks) #17

I thought the NAD had recently initiated a study of potential models for church re-formation within its territories. It would thus seem very premature to affirm the role of regional conferences.

(George Tichy) #18

Ain’t broke? Don’t fix!!!

My impression is that the Regional Conferences are doing well, and it called the attention of some smart people who maybe had a little desire to hijack the whole thing.

It’s working, leave those in charge alone!!!
Congrats to the NAD and Pastor Dan Jackson & his crew!
:+1: :+1:

(le vieux) #19

I find it sad that they wish to continue the segregation. How can we claim that there is “neither Jew nor Greek,” etc., and then maintain these divisions? I know it’s been said before, but there will be no regional conferences in heaven. If we can’t work together and worship together here, we won’t be happy up there–we won’t even be there. Maybe they served a useful purpose 50 or 60 years ago, but it’s past time to dismantle them.

(Allen Shepherd) #20

I scanned the piece on the forum where some blacks characterized the white dominant culture as “abusers”. And that the black conferences would have a hard time going back to the abusers. But it seemed the back administrators do not want to change the way things are done. The whites seemed more interested than blacks at dissolving the conferences. As George says, if it aint broke, don’t fix it.