In the aftermath of a clash that turned deadly on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, Seventh-day Adventist individuals and entities from across the United States have responded with a call for love and prayers for the victims, denouncing the violence and hate that led to the tragedy. Below is a round-up of the various statements that have been issued thus far:
On August 13, Daniel Xisto, pastor of the Charlottesville Seventh-day Adventist Church, published an essay entitled, “I’m Not Ok,” in which he listed the many reasons why he was not ok after Charlottesville, as well as the reasons he would be “alright.”
The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists issued a statement on August 14. In it, President Daniel Jackson and Executive Secretary G. Alexander Bryant stated jointly:
We are deeply disturbed by the violence and hate that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Heather Heyer, who was standing up against bigotry and hate when her life was senselessly cut short. We pray for Heather’s family, the community of Charlottesville, and all of those who were injured by the attack on those who rose up in solidarity against evil. As Christians and followers of Jesus we stand with Him against the white supremacist groups that spread racism and violence. We pray for the day when all of God’s children, of all races, treat each other with love and respect rather than bias and hate.
A joint response issued by William T. Cox Sr., President of the Allegheny West Conference, William Miller, President of the Potomac Conference, and Dave Weigley, President of the Columbia Union Conference followed on August 15. It read in part:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Heather Heyer and Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates of the Virginia State Police, who lost their lives on Saturday, August 12, during the violent uprising in Charlottesville, Va. We’re also praying for healing for all who were injured and impacted.
As a church, we abhor evil and stand against individuals and organizations who perpetuate hatred, violence and discrimination. God calls each of us to love, to be compassionate and to show mercy to all people no matter their race or gender. We honor that call and stand in solidarity with those who seek peace and justice. We pledge to do everything in our power to end the scourge of racism, sexism and discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.
The presidents of both Oakwood University and Andrews University also issued statements on August 15 and 17, respectively.
The Presidential Statement from Dr. Leslie Pollard read:
Like many Americans, the Oakwood University family is grieved by the events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims of the mindless violence perpetrated by the agents of hatred as well as the peace officers who lost their lives last weekend. As a community of servant learners, who have been on the receiving end of history's wicked racism, intolerance and brutality, we stand with the millions of citizens who condemn racial supremacy, bigotry, Nazi hate groups and their racial prejudice.
Our nation is built on respect, tolerance, and the acceptance of all who embrace our national values. The Oakwood community commits itself to working for a society which embraces peace, understanding, and generosity of spirit. May God bless all who renew their commitment to such a beloved community.
President Andrea Luxton, in an email communication to faculty, staff, and students, stated in part:
Only a few days ago, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and members of the KKK decided to use another campus in Charlottsville, Virginia, as the base for despicable words and acts of bigotry, racism and hatred. I stand with the many others throughout this nation to condemn without reservations both the philosophy and actions of these alt-right groups that seek to demean, diminish and even eradicate those whose skin color and in some cases religion are different to theirs. Such actions and words are completely counter to the values of this campus and the gospel which we live.
Michael T. Nixon, who filled the newly-created position of vice president of Diversity & Inclusion at Andrews University, wrote a blog post in response to the events in Charlottesville, in which he called on “those in leadership in our church: Pastors, Local Conferences, Unions, Divisions, the General Conference, our sister higher education institutions, and medical facilities, to take—and continue to take—affirmative steps to denounce the violent hatred and bigotry that was embodied over the weekend in Charlottesville by the alt-right, KKK, neo-Nazis, and other like-minded domestic terrorist groups.”
Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, issued a statement via video on August 17 entitled, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” In the 4.5 minute video, Graham spoke out strongly against racism and intolerance:
Growing up in 1960s Detroit, racial unrest is far from foreign to me. But never could I have imagined that 50 years later not only would our racial wounds have not healed, but they have further deteriorated in many ways. As a Christian leader, I now call first on all who name the name of Christ, but who have been nurturing the spirit of division, to repent. If you are indulging the spirit of racial division, the spirit of anti-Semitism, you must repent. There simply is no place for hatred among followers of Christ. No place for racism or intolerance.
He ended his statement with a call for Seventh-day Adventists to meditate on Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are those who mourn, For they will be comforted. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:4, 9, NIV).
Alisa Williams is managing editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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