This comes across as a well-stated, balanced presentation. What I’m more convinced of is that we have far too many “middle” administrative organizations and administrators with support staff that duplicate and waste God-given resources. The union conferences should be the first to go.
Incidentally, I think it would be more accurate to state that God created the genetic machinery that has led to races, rather than directly creating the races.
The more integrated all congregations become, the more nonsensical the existence of regional conferences will appear. Those who would wish to join together the conferences should take pains to integrate the congregations, the pastoral teams of those congregations, and the administrative/leadership teams of their respective conferences. Until that time, the regional conferences will be serving an obvious need.
Love the well reasoned presentation. Coming from a part of the world that has ethnic churches but not ethnic based mid-level organizational structure, one is moved by the rational thoughts.
However, I wonder rather than calling for Conferences or Unions to be disbanded, if we should be considering further up the tree? With technology and communication capacity today, why do we have such a top-heavy General Conference? Our last major church restructure was over a century ago.
It would seem to me that we could have a “steering committee” of one representative from each of the 13 Divisions as our GC. Then disperse power and focus back to the Divisions who could then use the 400 plus GC budgets to actually do the work that we are called to do - make disciples of all people.
Perhaps we could take a lesson from the Episcopalians.
They have their “Conferences”, “Unions”, “Divisions”.
Perhaps how they administer would be something to study.
But then, with the Liturgy style of Worshiping, they dont seem have a lot of issues
that many SDA congregations seem to have.
The “color” mix of the congregation is no issue. Persons selected for church offices
is based on the casting votes by the congregation based on who they presume to
be the best for the office.
Same with a selection of Pastor. It is a Congregation-Vestry acceptance of the person.
At present the “Atlanta [upper 1/2 of GA] Conference” Bishop-President is Black. The
North American “Division” Bishop-President is a black male. The former Presiding Bishop
was a white woman Bishop.
Members in the Local Congregations have a lot of control with the directions of their church
and its programs. Its musical instruments in service. A lot of WORKING committees. Many
of the Working Committees at St Francis began with drinking coffee–tea–hot chocolate and
eating brunch at table together after service. A small group would see and verbalize a need,
then they would plan on a strategy to meet it. And Go To Work.
We do need to face facts. There are different expectations about “Church” that various ethnic
groups have. We “white folks” are used to S.S. around 9:30 and church let out between 12 &
12:30. Other ethnic groups enjoy longer services. A number of years ago I attended a church
in downtown Chattanooga on Sabbath with my niece who was attending Southern. It was a
mix of ethnic persons. Began at 9:30 and we were dismissed at 3PM. Was primarily a mix
of white and black culture. But the regular members, including students from Southern,
enjoyed that type of Sabbath celebration, and so it was a popular church.
Most white cultures – SDAs, Baptists, etc are used to an hour or 90 minutes at most, of the
"chuch-preaching" service. White churches have 2, maybe 3 songs. A black church I visited
a few years back had 3 choir numbers, each directed by a different leader. And had 2 other
special musics. In addition to the congregational singing. The preacher did not begin until
12:30. We were dismissed at 2PM. But it was a Celebration with God. And one could sense
the difference there as compared to most “white” services where one is “entertained” but not
Though the author makes some compelling arguments/reasons…they still would not hold weight in nearly any First World Country that values true diversity, etc. I see this prospective coming from the position of apologetics not from progressivism.
If we have a problem where our administrative and support services are under-utilized, we have two options!
We can ask some of these administrators and specialist support staff to step down.
We the people can step up to the plate; and in this way can take up the slack in the system.
The Holy Spirit is waiting to empower the people to do all we can. I’m sure if we used all the gifts God has given to progress the mission and ministry of Jesus we would need more administrative and support services not less.
the most tenable biblical perspective, then, is not that god made the different races at creation - a white adam, and a black eve, for instance…rather, he created the languages that dispersed the descendants of noah at the tower of babel into the various climes occasioned by the changes brought about by the flood throughout the earth, as well as the gene variants that were capable of affording successful adaptation to those various climes…over the centuries, cool, northern climates selected for threonine-SLC24A5, leading to a lighter skin, while hotter, southern climates selected for alanine-SLC24A5, leading to a darker skin…this perspective posits that none of the races existing today exhibit what god actually made to thrive in the perfect climate of eden because the perfect climate of eden no longer exists anywhere on earth…
as for the issue of regional conferences itself, the question is really whether the church is primarily an evangelistic tool, or a demonstration of what received evangelism accomplishes…if the church is primarily an evangelistic tool, it makes sense to have regional conferences, since there are millions of black people who will likely respond more favorably to a black church structure…this is analogous to the split situation in the apostolic church: the jewish church existed side by side with the gentile churches, and we don’t really see any of the inspired apostles pushing to merge them…they understood that world evangelism in their day required different ethnic tools…
If I’m reading the above description correctly, real integration when it occurs actually happens at the congregational level rather than as a consequence of regional or state (mainstream) conference planning or decision-making. In some notable cases, so-called integration may have resulted from a shift in an ethnic majority composition of a congregation’s membership. Rather than integration of regional and state conferences, what’s needed, I believe, is consolidation of these conferences and union conferences in order to eliminate the needless expense of the duplication of services.
It makes no sense to integrate the “black” and “white” conferences into a one big conference only to be segregated between the “she” and “he” conferences or better still between the “ordained” and “commissioned” ministers.
Until full equality be conferred to both sexes, the church might as well be allowed to wallow in knee-deep issues of inequality. As a once great politician remarked, “What difference does it make?”
The genome can undergo epigenetic modifications such that the DNA, while remaining unchanged, can be silenced or activated much as EGW, GC and BRI can silence or activate God’s words.
In a conversation back in 2007, at Buckingham University , with a top EU professor from Oxford ,who instinctually responded to my question by saying, " The Vatican will never join any group that would control it." To which I replied, "But it would join a group that it controls . " This simple fact seem to highlight the problem we are having concerning Regional Conferences. The State Conferences are alright as long as they are in control , but the birth of the Regional Conferences grow out of a direct neglect of black workers and their families. This is a human issue . We just don’t treat each other very kindly . Acts 6:1-7 describes a situation where one group’s daily food portion was stopped . They just happened to be Greeks, but the portion to the Jewish widows never stopped. It was Satan that was seeking to use this occasion to bring in dis unity. Are we allowing him to do the same here. Brethren, we must be wise . This division has gone on too long ,. The work is the Lord’s . But those in charge of the purse must see to it that everyone eats daily . That mean me, the preacher , but also my wife and children when I’m here no more. " Bring ye all the tithe into the Store House that there shall be Meat in My house . " WHOSE EATING ALL THE MEAT ?
What needs to be discussed when dealing with regional conferences are unions that do not have regional conferences but have ethnic coordinators as in the Pacific Union. How do these do compared to unions with regional conferences? It would be interesting to know how these black, Spanish, or other ethnic groups feel in this kind of situation compared to the regional conferences.
The church was begun as all-white and rather than welcoming the growth and encouraging everyone to be part of the church, it became a problem and the solutions will always present problems until ALL are considered equal in every respect: color blind and gender blind.
Continuing to preach equality of but refusing to practice it is the worst of hypocrisy.
(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13)
Good question. So forgive me for pointing out that an ethnic or Spanish speaking group isn’t “Spanish” unless referring to Spaniards. Whom you seem to be referencing are Hispanics or Latinos: Americans of any race who are descendants of the peoples of Spain, Portugal, or the Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America.
Please cite one black conference official that desires integration and what he is doing to make it occur. Furthermore, please cite one conference official in general at any level who has an integration strategy and what he is doing to implement it.
Interesting essay. I have served in a “white” conference (Indiana) in a church in a two church district that was predominantly black and Hispanic, in fact, almost 80 to 90% of that race/ethnicity. We got along fine, it was a “white” cultural service with predominantly black members, and more conservative than many black churches.
I think the main problem with the black conferences is white guilt. I don’t believe there is much motivation on the black side to close them up,. And as this man points out, there may be good non-racial reasons to allow them to continue operation. So how do we assuage white guilt? And should we try to? . .