Online Group Mobilizes Young Adventists for Social Justice

Question: You are the co-founder of an organization called Adventists for Social Justice. What inspired you to start this group? When did you start it? What is it all about?

Answer: Following the death of Alton Sterling by police officers [on July 5, 2016], I was frustrated. I was hurting, and other members from church were over-spiritualizing the issue on social media. I just wanted a place that allowed for Christians to hurt together when these incidents happen.

[Co-founder] Jermaine Anthony and I had a conversation shortly after. We were conflicted because we wanted to get involved, we wanted to march, protest, advocate to city officials -- we felt overwhelmed with the need to simply do something. On the other hand we felt crippled by the church's silence on issues such as these and we weren't sure how to proceed.

We decided to start a Facebook group to see if there was anyone else who felt similarly; within two days the group had grown to about 2,000 people. The following day I woke up to another death by police: Philando Castile. It was heartbreaking. There had been many similar deaths in history that ripped just as deeply. I had struggled through Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and all the other profiled innocent lives lost at the hands of police brutality. I had learned how to mask my emotional trauma to simply push through another day, and another one. Eventually I couldn’t continue as usual.

We decided to host a conference call to gather ideas and develop an action plan. That call maxed its limit, and people could not get on. It was then we realized we were feeding a hunger of many Adventist youth who shared our passion for getting involved in social injustices around our country.

Who are the members of Adventists for Social Justice?

ASJ’s membership is comprised of anyone who has a passion for social justice issues, is open to partner with us, wants to uphold our church’s values, and get involved. We understand that allies exist within various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic classes. We are intentional about remaining all-inclusive.

Why is such a group necessary?

I would have to ask how it cannot be. Whether we choose to accept the responsibility or not, this group is long overdue. Our denomination must experience a paradigm shift in our identified goals internally and externally as it relates to the community. The church is a hub -- when a community is hurting the question is asked “Where is the church?” We have been given a mandate by God, which also happens to be our organization’s mission to “do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s cause.” This should be the focus of the church on a micro and macro level. We cannot seek to evangelize without first understanding the implications. We cannot misrepresent Christ as if He is not burdened by the injustices within society. We cannot preach passionately about Esther and Joseph, confident about what God called them to do, and be silent when it matters most. No, this group is not only necessary, it is overdue.

What has your group done/accomplished so far?

We are still in the developmental phase of building this organization; however, we have been able to mobilize and organize across states. We have encouraged our members to explore their communities and get involved in events and movements that share our vision. We have succeeded in providing resources for education and training within our Facebook page -- the wealth of information shared there is unimaginable. We have been able to identify various chapter leaders across some states, develop an action plan, and are getting ready for a multi-state launch in September. I think a crucial aspect has been providing a place to belong, to hurt, to be angry, to be empowered. This is just the beginning!

What are your short term and long term goals?

Our short term goals include the official launch of our organization, which will include town halls, church trainings, and community events across various states. This will occur in September. We are also in the process of planning our first annual Social Justice Summit in November, which will be a training ground for those seeking information on how to effectively get involved in social action. We will also identify one core goal we can centralize around for the next quarter, such as Voting Education. We want to be intentional in how we measure success.

Long term, we are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization. We want to collaborate with community leaders, other organizations and city officials to meet the needs of each neighborhood. We intend to work within the law and policy arenas to advocate for improved policing laws; we also want to be channels to restore trust between the police and civilians. We intend to help create businesses within communities to increase our economices and boost financial freedom, in efforts to restore and build resources needed for minority communities. We aim to develop mentorship programs, health programs, and educational programs. Social justice is multi-layered and comprehensive, and we want to ensure we are not narrowly focusing on the issues at hand.

Internally, we want to encourage our churches to open up the dialogue. We plan to work with church leadership to develop a theological framework for social justice. The Sabbath School quarterly has done a phenomenal job with beginning the discussion; now where do we go from here? With a framework developed and implemented in our churches and schools, members can feel comfortable knowing that as a denomination we understand the importance of getting involved.

Do you think social media (Facebook) made it possible to form Adventists for Social Justice?

Absolutely! When we decided to start the Facebook group, the idea was to invite our friends who may share our burden. We never imagined it would grow to over 3,000 people within such a short time. That is the beauty of social media.

What topics or issues has the online group mainly focused on?

Education, policies and law, police reform, community development, economic empowerment.

Have you started any groups like this in the past? What experience do you have with activism? Social justice issues? What skills do you have that have helped you to organize this group?

This is my first group of its kind. I have marched and protested in the past around various issues; for example, housing, gun violence, lack of resources for minorities, etc. I believe I have the leadership and organizational skills that will help make this group sustainable. Social action, social justice, and meeting community needs have been my priority from the age of 13. I also work with an amazing team of people who really take this group to a new level. Passion will drive any vision, and we have both in abundance. With access to resources the sky is the limit.

What is your day job?

My career is in the field of social work where I am licensed to practice. I work as a clinical social worker as an in-home individual and family clinician, doing therapy for children and adolescents with severe psychiatric disorders. Previously, I worked in New York City as an in-home multi-systemic therapist for juvenile offenders. Every single day I go into these same communities I serve, with nothing but a computer and a folder between me and the residents. I see the needs of my clients and their neighborhoods first hand, and have always been at the front line advocating for more resources to be poured into under-resourced neighborhoods. These same kids that are gunned down because they appear “dangerous” represent any of the youth I work with or speak to daily. This is not only real -- it’s personal.

How would you rate the Adventist church on issues of social justice? Are we doing well or not so well?

To be fair, some churches and pastors are involved and doing a fantastic job. They simply “get it.” I have had the pleasure of conversing with some of them; but sadly they are in the minority. As a church, I think we have quite some way to go. Hopefully Adventists for Social Justice can be a channel to get us where we need to be.

How did you become an Adventist? How involved are you in your church?

I was raised within the Methodist religion, and came into Adventism through my mother, who was Adventist at the time. She placed my brother and me in Adventist school at Northeastern Academy, and I never left. I currently attend the Mount Zion SDA Church in Hamden, Connecticut, although the majority of my spiritual training occurred at Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been involved in Youth Ministries for the entire 15 years I have been in the church. I serve as the Youth Leader at my church. I’ve served as a chaplain for the Brooklyn South Staten Island Youth Federation. I’ve served on multiple committees. I was recently asked to serve as a Young Adult Member on the Atlantic Union Executive Committee. I remain very much involved as I believe in order to see the change I desire, I have to be present and accounted for.

Tiffany Llewellyn, 29, is a clinical social worker. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work at Medger Evers College and her Masters of Social Work at Hunter College.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank-you for this inspiring interview…

Tiffany, you represent on so many levels the best of Adventism and if even 1/10 of the membership were like you there truly would be a significant Social Justice impact on communities everywhere!

I wish you and your fledgling group Godspeed and may the Spirit guide you as you minister as Christ did.


Like so many others, this group has lost its way. “Social Justice” is not to be our focus. The Gospel commission takes care of all that. The 3 angels’ messages take care of all that. You don’t find the apostles or the early church involved in “social justice” issues, even though there were many ways in which they could have done so. They could have lobbied against slavery, but no, Paul even recommend that Onesimus return to his master, Philemon. The could have protested the tax system, but no, Jesus said to render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s. They could have balked at the requirement that any citizen could be required to carry things for a Roman soldier, but Jesus said if they ask you to go a mile, go 2 miles. They could have protested the cruel and unusual forms of capital punishment that the Romans used. But, instead, they accepted martyrdom without complaining.

Modern Christians seem to have become lily-livered. If we were living the Gospel as Jesus and His apostles did, it would have a positive impact on society.


It would be very interesting for Blc to outline. In. Detail what he believes is the message of the Three Angels. In all fairness, I think I should share mime–

The Frst Angel has the Everlasting Gospel which indicates that the Everlasting Covenant had been fulfilled. The Second Angel is saying that the Princes of this world are demonstrating their complete control by the Devil. The Third Angel is saying that the final generation will be tempted as was Jesus in His Third temptation to fall down and worship the beast. Now those who accept and cherish the Everlasting Gospel will worship the One Who accomplished and fulfilled the Everlasting Covenant. in so doing they will serve as Christ did, Comfort those who mourn, feed those who are hungry, clothes those who are naked, and visit those who are in prison, for we were all under the same condemnation. The Gospel as set us free to serve and to worship the One Who gave us assurance. TZ


They will indeed do that. However, it will be more than just meeting their physical needs. The social outreach will be the means of reaching the people whereby the good news of Jesus can be spread. If it is just social justice with no gospel, then it is no different than any other worldly outreach - good works and nothing more. The Bible speaks also to those who think they are doing God’s work, yet will be told “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:22-23.


Has anyone listened to the Sheriff of Milwaukee regarding the reason for the change into “tribal behavior”?
The U.S. government, State and local governments taking the place of Fathers, and becoming Father and Husband. He said 35% blacks unemployed. The school system has the worst showing in the nation.
The perceived idea by some of the rioters that “Rich people” are hoarding their money and not “sharing”.
On the radio today an audio of one — An eye for an eye. We don’t want peace. We dont want to live with whites. Whites have to go.

Why burn a gas station and cars that belong to people? Why burn the hair dresser’s business? HOW does that address Black Social Justice. Remember Watts??? Burned the suburb down. Burned black people’s housing. How was that Social Justice??

Social Justice cannot be done by one insignificant church group. It takes a community. And that Community HAS to begin in the Black Community itself. I has to begin with the Black Pastors, the Black Congregations to address many issues. ONE – Education. Reading, Writing, Math. If the school is NOT doing it, WHY NOT do it in Sunday School?? Why NOT have after school assist with home work?
GANGS — kids begin running in gangs at 7th grade. Eventually getting into drugs, stealing, break-ins. The Black Churches and Black Community is going to have to address these issues.
This weekend this older black lady in a car was driving down a street. There were a group of blacks in the middle of the street. One, a 14 yr old came up to her window and did so in a threatening manner. She had a gun in the car and shot him in the abdomen. She stated her home had been broken into not many hours prior to that. I am sure she was frightened. Probably shot in self-defense.
14 – fourteen – years old and already developed this type of behavior.
This in quiet Macon, GA.
And he is only ONE out of thousands. HOW do we SAVE THESE HUMANS for the KINGDOM???

Educationally, my little city of Macon is probably not any better than Milwaukee’s school system. We have several schools [at least one in a black neighborhood, some whites] where the passing of the State Test in the elementary school has been only 50% for at least 7 years that I have been aware. [Our Tutoring kids come from the neighborhood that attend that school] No other church group is offering tutoring programs to students of that school. No one cares. Parents seem to be OK with their child’s progress of NOT having the skills learned at the end of the school term for their grade, their age group. HOW can they function in the next grade??? They DONT. The become dropouts. End up on the street in their early Adolescent age group, in gangs. Many into drugs, theft.

Pastor Washington. Thank you for your views from Bethany. I DO find it interesting that since I have been here in Macon, GA since 2005 that YOUR Church Community AND the Wimbish Road Church Community have NEVER become ONE COMMUNITY of Seventh Day Adventists. YOU have not reached out to Wimbish. Wimbish has NOT reached OUT to YOU and combined efforts of Community Involvement!!!
ACTUALLY members of MY church group know very little about the Macon Community when I talk to them.
It has always interested me that Bethany has had the VERY much larger church membership. It has a VERY much larger school program. Seems to be MORE active than Wimbish. It has a great church music program.
YES! I do not know everything about Macon. But involvement with homeless and near homeless persons on a personal level. Insvolvement with the school that services Lynmore Estates area where we have had our tutoring program [Southside Community Church] going on 7 years I have seen a lot. Places on Houston Ave area, PioNono area are questionable about being safe at night, and I have moved a friend into a boarding home where it looked unsafe in the day time.
I was just saying that there are a lot of youth 12 and 13 and up that are LOST to themselves, to society, to the Church. And It is BOTH a Black AND White Community problem. Kids have to have a knowledge of WHO they are, WHO they can be, provided a VISION of themselves at a VERY early age, and also have the tools to become that Vision in Reality.
At Macon Outreach I see quite a few young men and women there on a daily basis.
Homeless HOUSING is another GREAT Issue that needs to be addressed some way. Macon Outreach feeds between 200 and 300 every day. Several churches feed at Central City Park, another park, Christ Church, Wimbish began recently every 4th Saturday, the Mission does take out supper, a black church across from the Library does an evening snack. Several churches do food distribution, one near me on Oglethorpe, Mulberry Street Methodist, and there are several others in the South and West side of town.
Daybreak has been a Wonderful Asset to the homeless community. Its idea was Visioned by 7 women from different church groups. Catholic DePaul became the financial sponsor to get it begun. A lot of businesses volunteered time and equipment to get it open. It began with a Vision to find a place for homeless Women to Rest during the day because of the NO LOITERING laws downtown. The NO LOITERING Laws continue to be a huge problem for those living at the Dempsy who just want to sit outside with friends [some homeless] and visit on the benches. Having Daybreak where a light breakfast daily, clothes washed, get a shower, telephone anywhere in US and Canada to family, Internet for e-mail, Facebook, Job Search can be done, snack with coffee, iced tea in the afternoon, and REST out of the heat in summer, cold in winter. there is some tutoring as some have never learned and some have poor reading and writing skills.
I havent even discussed the problems with Jail. And the problem with getting them back into society. AND yes, I have friends who have been former inmates in the LEC. Recently there has been the formation of The Macon Reentry Coalition. A VISION of a time when ALL returning citizens will be equipped and enabled to successfully re-enter the community." Assists with housing, employment, transportation, substance abuse counseling and other individualized needs. [PO Box 6544, Macon, 31208-6544]
Another great thing GA did recently was to allow Felons to obtain Food Stamps. This has helped out several persons I personally know. I take them shopping at Kroger, Dollar Market, etc.
It IS difficult for Felons to find good housing. I KNOW. I have taken several around, turned in applications for them. One time 3 years ago I asked where I live if one could live with me. And it was rejected. He would have had to have been a good person if I was willing to do that.
I dont have the space to discuss Loaves and Fishes on Broadway. 3 Persons from my St Francis Episcopal church group [my Sunday church] help keep it running on a daily basis. We collect things for it AND for Daybreak on a weely/monthly basis.
Every Month, Daybreak has a request for different needs. And we post them various places around the church building. We deliver items collected weekly to Daybreak and Loaves.
St Francis was a great supporter of Central City Aids Project by Johnny Fambro. Johnny also had several black churches that were his long time supporters. St Francis helped him to get his 40-unit transitional housing program started for homeless HIV persons. I became involved with it 11 years ago through St Francis. The Universalist Church across from the Library for years was the location of World AIDS Day. It changed locations to a black church in honor of the memory of Johnny this last December.
WOULD BETHANY like to become involved with HIV persons housing project?? We could use some more church groups involved with it. Ryan White money and the Hope Center [which Johnny helped to form] have made a great difference with the HIV issue here in middle GA, Macon in particular. HIV is a Rainbow Color problem, and it is a man AND woman problem here in Macon.

EDIT-- Pastor Washington. Thank you for the update. Guess I was not there the Sabbath you preached. Would have enjoyed hearing you, and meeting you then. yes, Wimbish has a number of new members. They were “trained well” at Bethany. We enjoy having them. Thank You!
Pastor Strickland does not live in the Macon area. It would be nice if our churches could find some way for our 2 memberships to meet each other. Perhaps have fun combining some of our community directed services so our members can work side by side and get to know each other. Perhaps same with the kids some way.
Two are always better than One.

EDIT [8/17]-- Pastor Donovan, I am quite busy this week. It sounds like it would be a pleasure getting with you. You sound like a very energenic person and a Visionary. Would like to see some of them.


Look at all the countries around the world where it is the young, unemloyed young males who have no future and there will be the rioting and fighting. Except in many such places ISIS and ISIL and BOKO Haram give employment to them–to fight and die for something. FDR put millions of young people to work before WWII under CCC and paid them for all sorts of work and gave them pride.

When there is no future; when the hopeless see the riches around them (something not so well known prior to TV) and there is no chance for them, there has always been troubles.

Education is only one answer; finding employment is more difficult for those of color. Schools should receive the same funding throughout a state, but it is now based on the tax base of the district, and the under privileged are being short-changed on their schooling.

Read and see videos of how in many blacks of these troubled cities are excessively stopped, even females strip searched merely to humiliate them. Many white cops have contributed to this violence as is no recognized.


This is the gospel. Note the first sermon of Jesus; note Matthew 24 and 25. We are asked to do just this.


Fledgling? Hardly. Born out of an activist and social worker. Its the DNA of a movement.

…and after reading comments to this article, I would have to say, Lord Have Mercy not a moment too soon.


This gentlemen is ill equipped to address the issues of the blck community in Macon. Here are the reasons:

  1. He cleary has divorced himself from the problem by making it a “black” problem. As a Christian, you have just as much of a responsibility to serve your fellow man.
  2. You know nothing of the people of the black community when you haven’t even engaged the black Adventist church or sought out it’s pastor. No one is reaching out to our troubled schools? You have no idea the good work that black churches are doing in Middle geogia. Your frequently misrepresent what happens in Macon because you only speak from your limited worldview.
  3. Your anecdotes are one sided and paint an incomplete picture. In my doctoral studies at Mercer, this is called observer analysis. From a distance you come to conclusions about “those people”. Participant analysis means you immerse yourself in the group you critique and then make observations. If you have not walked in our shoes or in our churches or communities, you analysis is spouting stereotypes at best.
  4. There are several problems in the black community and some of your statistics are factual. Some. You leave out a major point on why many of our communities are this way. Your analysis suggest, well if they only were smarter (education), if they only pulled themselves up. This is all right wing propaganda. In this lifetime black people did not have basic human rights. You were alive when Lyndon johnson had to beg, bargain, and threaten congress to treat black people equally. 1965 Civil rights act made us equal people, 1968 fair housing act gave us protection from housing discrimination. Do you really feel systematic racism, discrimination, unfair housing practices, and police brutality have disappeared? You don’t get pulled over for the color of your skin or followed in stores. Banks NEVER have to be told to stop discriminating agaist white people’s applications. Black people did not one day volunteer to live in bad conditions or adverse environments. From redlining, to jim crow, to the southern strategy, there was a plan.

For six years I have been the pastor of Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church. You know where my church is. Instead of your one sided commentary about Macon on this forum, I invite you to come see me. Why don’t we dialogue? 478-746-0202. I will be waiting.


Your overall premise still seems to be that Blacks have all these problems because of whites. Here are the actual statistics.

White 34482 35.46%
Black or African American 60740 62.45%
American Indian and Alaska Native 188 0.19%
Asian 628 0.65%
Asian indian 178 0.18%
Chinese 88 0.09%
Filipino 73 0.08%
Japanese 43 0.04%
Korean 60 0.06%
Vietnamese 36 0.04%
Other Asian 150 0.15%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 28 0.03%
Native Hawaiian 8 0.01%
Guamanian or Chamorro 1 0%
Samoan 1 0%
Other Pacific Islander 18 0.02%
Some other race 443 0.46%

The racial makeup of the city is even more black majority with 67.94% African American, 28.56% White, 0.02% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.48% of the population.

Clearly the community is black by a a minimum of a 2/3 majority. It is a community where blacks can vote, make laws, covenants, city code and anything else they want.
Your rendition of whats wrong now starts with events pre 1968 by your own account. You speak of systemic discrimination when blacks are the system by anywhere from 63%-68%.
Is it par for the course that long after you have become responsible for your own destiny’s that you blame today on things 50 years ago? It seems that way especially since its only been in the last 6 months Obama has quit blaming George Bush 8 years ago for his failures today. Every item you list in your last few paragraphs would only apply to people 50 years old. Yet the entire black population of the greater Macon area over that age is only 13.87% percent. The percentage that are retired and living on government programs where no work is required is 8.9% making the people your talking about 4.88% percent of black community between 50-65.

Even if we were to stipulate some amount of your perspective…its still time to take responsibility for your own community and problems.


Niteguy 2, Steve, I reached out to you, gave you my number. You edited your orginal post, and didn’t reply to my post. OK. You once again speak with ignorant privilege and assumed omniscience. I have never reached out? HOW would you know that? I have preached at YOUR church twice. I have participated in field schools and school programs several times. Pastor Whitt was invited to my church to exchange pulpits several times and your new administration has ignored our recent invitations for social justice panels on recent events, but the GA Cumberland pastor from Oglethorpe came.

Congratulations. I am glad you are involved in charity and know some minorities. I have no desire to list my or my church’s extensive community involvement. I would address a few things, some new, one old old.

Areas you stereotype as unsafe are the communities and homes of my members. What makes them UNSAFE to you in the DAYTIME? I’m curious. I am there EVERYDAY. Crime happens everywhere. Don’t insult our communities. [quote=“niteguy2, post:8, topic:11472, full:true”]
Has anyone listened to the Sheriff of Milwaukee regarding the reason for the change into “tribal behavior”?
Places on Houston Ave area, PioNono area are questionable about being safe at night, and I have moved a friend into a boarding home where it looked unsafe in the day time.

You ask us to join your HIV program? The arrogant presumption of us not being involved in this crisis is comical. Your googled list of services have our people littered through them. Just because you don’t know, does not mean it is not happening.

Why are we not one community? The Adventist church is steeped in racism. Black conference were born from the white adventist refusing to accept us as equals. FACT. There is no such thing as black flight. Research white flight. GA Cumberland knows it all to well. That’s why most of your churches in METRO areas have black pastors and black memberships. In 10 years Wimbish will have a black pastor and 85 percent black membership as well. Our members visit your church all the time. When they are disgruntled they join your church. Your white members do not do the same in my tenure. They go to the country. My doctorate is on racial reconciliation, but before reconciliation can take place, there has to be an acknowledgement of what brought us here.

I ask again. COME SEE ME. 1550 Edna place rd. It’s safe. My cell is on my website. Why debate on spectrum when we can do it in person. If you give me your info, I will come to you. I will not stand for Rush Limbaugh rhetoric about our community. If you choose not to reach out, I will be here. As long as I am in Macon I will give an alternate view on this site about our city. The GC president has ignored the plight of black people in America. As an ordained minister I will not. You are correct our church is much larger than yours. Most of that is due to us serving in places that many find unsafe. God is already there and with us. Peace my brother.