The Dissolution of Regional Conferences: Another Perspective

Very stimulating article and commentary on the reticence or lack of willingness of state conferences to join the regional conferences. Blatant Adventist brand of racism is especially ridiculous when we hold sacred truths about end time events, the sanctuary doctrine, and the revelation of prophecy.

However, I’m concerned about one of the listed items in the article…“The Wisdom of God in creating diverse races of people in His creation.”

The book of Genesis identifies NO race for Adam and Eve, the major difference was gender - “male and female created He them” - and they were both made in the image of God; so the allusion to diverse races is…interesting, if not erroneous.

There was a shift, if you will, at the Tower of Babel, where the language was confounded. My instinct informs me that people probably grouped together based on capacity to understand one another. This I believe, represents the first major separation of PEOPLES on the earth from a biblical account. As those people/tribes grouped and migrated, ethnicity probably became evident based on natural proclivities, customs of the tribes, geographic location (thus hyper-pigmentation or the lack thereof) and other identifying markers.

I think any line of thinking that propagates different races made by God - flies in the face of Creation. To believe that God created different races when the Bible clearly establishes Adam and Eve as the first parents of ALL humankind, is to thwart a claim of Christianity - the only options left, evolution and/or atheism.

You cannot be a Christian and a racist, particularly if that brand of racism assigns inferiority to another race of people, when God created one man and one woman who were fruitful, multiplied, and replenished the whole earth through their seed.

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Congregations and services that meet the particular needs of various cultural, age, and other groups are essential. But that does not make it wise to divide corporately along such lines, and pointing out that all conferences are diverse only underlines the inherent issue.

Thomas Zwemer,
You are right on!

Our present church structure is antiquated and obsolete, pre-dating automobiles, interstate freeways, air travel, telephones, faxes, Skype, and the Internet. Yes, modern communications and transport mean administrative offices can be geographically further apart.

You state:
“Given the means of communication and travel, I think the local conferences should go.” I fully agree!

This would eliminate regional and white conferences alike — equal treatment under the law-- the US Supreme Court, if asked, would concur!

Those US states which host both a union conference office and sometimes several conference offices have almost as many bureaucrats/administrators as SDA pastors/preachers.

Donald Trump is cutting the bloated federal government by 20-30% to save taxpayer money. The church should simarlarly curtail bloated bureaucracy with the circumspect use of tithepayer money!

I am a white South African who emigrated at age 25 from that racist Apartheid police state, because I could no longer ethically tolerate the conditions there…

Later, as a Commander in the US NAVY I was stationed at a navy base in “the Deep South” where inherent racism was just as reprehensible as in my home country!

I think I can recognize blatant racism when I see it, as evidenced by the following bigoted, overtly racist comments of EGW:

Ellen G White and Church Race Relations: page 15:
In regard to white and colored people worshiping in the same building this cannot be followed as a general custom.

Testimonies 9:206 : The mingling of whites and blacks in social equality is to no means be encouraged.

What did Ellen expect in the New Jerusalem-- an Edenic Apartheid, with separate facilities?

Her intolerant, bigoted attitudes is what originated the “regional conferences”

EGW’s apologists would argue that “she was speaking for her times”

Racism is ALWAYS EVIL regardless of the era!

Christ evidenced this in his rebuke of racism with his parable of the “Good Samaritan” and his compassion for the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans were a deeply despised underclass barely tolerated by the Jews.

Racism was ABHORRENT in Christ’s era, in EGW’s era and at the present time, and is always inexcusable, particularly from one who claimed to be “inspired”!

Adventism was the last to allow our pastors to perform interracial marriages, even though several states allowed it. It took a Supreme Court ruling to finally persuade "the brethren " that SDA pastors could officiate at interracial marriages. There is NO biblical injunction against such unions!

So regional conferences have a rather sordid and sorry history, of entrenched racism in our church, especially in our “church mother” who firmly believed that “darkies” were a result of “amalgamation of man and beast”.

The elimination of regional conferences would erase this egregious past, and is long overdue.

THE UNITED KINGDOM a movie currently playing in cinemas, is a docudrama telling the true story of the black king of Bechuanaland ( now BOTSWANA ) and his white, British wife. It delicately and splendidly explores many racial issues and is hugely recommended for viewing!


The church by stating this must come from the members is abrogating its responsibilities. Our leaders if they truly want to be leaders need to stand up and speak up against this segregation and ask the members to end it. It appears the good old boys club is alive and well.


I think Donald Bedney has written a well thought out essay, as we are living in the 21st century, even as the residues of past discrimination. It is too easy to criticize Ellen G. White for what she wrote over 100 years ago regarding race relations in the Church. It is past time that we realize certain truths regarding race relations today.

  1. In Fall 2010, I wrote an article published in Spectrum that showed that over the 55 years from 1945 to 2000, baptisms and tithe/offerings work among black Americans grew at a much greater rate than that of the work among State Conferences. For 2016, 38% of all member in Unions in which there are Regional Conferences are members of Regional Conferences. Should there 38% of the membership be dissolved into State Churches that are located primarily in rural areas of the country or around the institutions operated bu State Conferences (mostly schools, hospitals and institutions).

  2. The Regional Conferences have over $220 million in retirement funds for pastors and teachers who work for Regional Conferences. As a result, workers from Regional Conferences receive nearly twice as much in retirement funds as workers in State Conferences. Should the Regional Conferences be dissolved, where should that $220 million in retirement funding go?

  3. Worship styles among Regional Churches tend to have three worship styles differences than among State Conferences: 1) Preaching styles, 2) Music styles and 3) Time management. Black Adventists who do not like the combination of these three worship styles have no problems attending State Churches, and many of them do. Few White Adventists tend Regional Churches, and I suspect that these three worship styles are a factor. In my over 60 years of being a member in both Regional and State Churches, I have seen many, many predominantly White State Churches become predominately Black when too many Black Adventist start attending.

The resolution to having Regional Conferences is not to be embarrassed because of the continued existence of such Conferences, and to compare the NAD Regional structure with other SDA Disions. In stead there should be a recognition that Regional Conferences readily welcome all Whites, Hispanics, Asians and all other into their houses of worship as Christian saved by grace.


I have no solution to the issues raised in this article, but just want to tell the following experience of cultural differences in worship. My cousin lives in a moderate sized town in Florida, where there are two churches–one belongs to the Southeastern Conference, the historically “black” church; the other belongs to the Florida Conference, the historically “white” church, which now has a very diverse membership. She has belonged to the latter church for most of her life, and still attends occasionally. She likes the minister, who is Hispanic, and an excellent preacher. Her problem is the length of the service, which often runs until 1:30 or 2 pm. Most of the lay leaders are black, and she described a typical black church service (in my experience, anyway)–singing every stanza of multiple hymns, and every person praying, calling for the offering, or telling the children’s story speaking for 15-20 minutes. She is happy to have individuals of any race or ethnic background who are willing to lead out, especially since she isn’t interested in doing any of it, but just can’t deal with such a long service. We discussed ways to deal with it, from deleting old emails during the beginning of the service, to keeping track of what time the sermon generally starts and just showing up about that time, to watching an online church service. Anyway–just a little report from the front lines of addressing cultural differences in worship!


Jst on the magin :Austria is a Catholic Country -really ? Also now ? 10% reliable Catholics !

  • -and Austria imports RC priest .- from Africa. They adapt themselves to the local cltutrre and customs, they are eager to share the life oftheir “sheep”, they minister, they comfort, - - tehy areloved and and accepted.

Just why ?.

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“This would eliminate regional and white conferences alike — equal treatment under the law-- the US Supreme Court, if asked, would concur!”

The Supreme Court would concur if it were law. But the Church is not a law-giving body; the church does not have legislative authority; the church does not exercise governmental or quasi-governmental functions. The church is not the “law” and therefore the 14th amendment does not apply to the church. And any legal action to attempt to require the church to integrate would likely fall on first amendment “free exercise” grounds. Under current case law, the Supreme Court would agree that the church is free to organise itself as it wishes, without governmental interference.

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While I don’t feel the need one way or the other about keeping or dissolving Regional Conference (mis-named certainly). I’ll note this from the author:

"1. The Wisdom of God in creating diverse races of people in His creation (distinctions, by the way, that, in my understanding, will not be erased in the new earth) and the necessity to provide venues for their exercise of self-determination.

  1.  The leading of the Lord in allowing for the creation of ethnically sensitive entities that address the particular needs of a racially diverse populous.
  2.  The necessity of pastors and leaders in majority races to continually remain sensitive to the needs and concerns of racial minorities regardless of the structures in place."

REGARDING #1 and #2

  1. While God may have created distinct races (actually he created one - the human race and perhaps allowed the rest to develop for some purpose), that doesn’t mean that God created the Regional Conferences - this is a conflation.

  2. The Lord may have led in creating ethnically sensitive entities, but I’ll argue that this was done in a vastly different time in America (and perhaps could be argued it promulgated segregation).

I think it’s time to consider if and when it’s appropriate for Regional Conferences to become a part of the larger body (or, if there are regions were the Regional Conferences ARE the larger body, then perhaps the smaller conference should consider merging into the Regional Conference), but in all cases I don’t think it should be forced. Nor does that mean that the individual churches must conform to a particular worship style just because other churches do it a particular way.

I am in the SECC (SouthEastern California Conference) and for 17 years participated in a racially mixed, predominantly African-American church that was a merger of an older white church and a younger black church. Our service was traditionally African-American (longer, gospel music with band instruments, etc.). Within the SECC there was a “Black Work” division of which we are a part. A group within SECC wanted to form an African-American based Regional Conference because they argued that the SECC did not properly support black ministries and that it’s leadership was not predominately black (although the then SECC President was) and that it ignored black issues in favor of whites. So they wanted to form a Regional Conference of all the African-American churches.

If we joined this Regional Conference, because they did not have the tithe base, we would have lost our full-time pastor and would have to withdraw our kids from the local Adventist school as the new Regional Conference would establish their own school which would be at much greater distance because the geographical distribution of the Conference would dictate school placement. We would have much less resources, but the argument is that we would be better because our leadership would be African-American who would better understand black issues. I don’t know how the other African-American churches voted but our church voted it down 80%-20% including among our black members (who represented a little over half the congregation with the remaining mixed between white, Hispanic, Pacific Islander and other).

Whenever Adventists from our of the area came to visit or perform, or non-Adventists came, they always commented that looking out into a very integrated congregation seemed to them what heaven might look like. To the author’s comment in #1, I say that God may have established the various ethnicities but that doesn’t mean he established segregation.


The Wisdom of God in creating diverse races of people in His creation (distinctions, by the way, that, in my understanding, will not be erased in the new earth) and the necessity to provide venues for their exercise of self-determination.

I suspect that if a White person made this argument, it would be interpreted as racist. There’s too much baggage associated with “separate but equal”.

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