"Why Stop There?" Campaign Follows Successful Petition to End Ethnically Separate Conferences

(Spectrumbot) #1

Pastor Dwight K. Nelson's 2015 MLK-Weekend sermon in which he called for an end to ethnic conferences provided the lead domino in what has proven to be a cascade of Adventist social change petitions online. First came 'Let's End Ethnically Separate Conferences,' a Change.org petition that quickly succeeded in garnering its sought-for 1000 signatures. Upon achieving this success, a second petition was posted titled 'Why Stop There?'

This second petition builds upon conference-busting momentum established by the first while taking things a step further: ending the concept of conferences altogether.

While many analysts noted that the petition to end ethnic conferences was far more popular with caucasians than African Americans, the second almost instantly drew a further 1000 signatures coming from people of all the main ethic groups served by the North American Division. It simultaneously created a storm of social media discussion regarding the proper use of church resources.

"The message here is clear," said Adventist social good organizer, Ben Rivers, who launched Why Stop There?. "The very existence of conferences, be they black or white, is a very expensive, dinosaurial relic of a dysfunctional past in Adventism."

Rivers elaborated by saying that although some administration in a denomination is doubtless necessary, "the top heavy, multi-layered, bureaucratic nightmare that parades as leadership in Adventism has for too long been bloated and inefficient."

Conferences, claimed Rivers, are an "unnecessary and overly-finicky bottom layer of church administration." He called conferences a "drain on resources and a super-producer of red tape" that often hinders church progress in the field.

"Surely our resources could be better spent directly empowering our laypeople; helping our struggling academies or otherwise growing our effectiveness on a grassroots level," said Rivers. "Imagine how much more we could do without the meddling influence of church bureaucrats."

"Unions do enough damage already, it is time to trim some fat," said Rivers. "That starts with an end to conferences."

Sevvy is a writer at the anonymously-authored humor and satire blog BarelyAdventist.com.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6601

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Conferences made sense back in the horse and buggy and steam locomotives. but in today’s world of media. Freeways, and air Union Conference can do the same work faster and at less cost. All that would be needed would be a ministerial Sec. For each former local conference. Go for it! Tom Z

(2nd Opinion) #3

How I wish this were not satire! This needs to happen.

(le vieux) #4

I’m not so sure. In the same way the the government is organized into federal, State, county, and city/town, it makes sense for each region to have local representation and leadership. If we got rid of conferences I believe it would add to the sense of isolation from the church leadership. I live in a very small conference. We have numerous “town hall” meetings in between constituency meetings. Laymen are able to communicate directly with conference leadership in a way that isn’t possible, even at a constituency meeting. It provides for better communication, and a more efficient use of resources–imho, that is.

Note to Glorious George: yes, I know this piece was satire. I was paying attention.

(Carol June Hooker) #5

So set up the petition, already

(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

satire in the sense, it ain’t going to happen and everyone knows it. communication has nothing to do with it. Let us take the Michigan Conference President as an example. He owns the chair and intends to keep it–of course unless the Southern California Conference calls. Tom Z

(George Tichy) #7

It seems that you are awake.

(Floyd) #8

I certainly wish it was not satire, for this is an extremely relevant and effective way to move forward. I just listened to a conference president from Australia who is literally dismantling his conference, empowering his ministers far more than before (like paying for a coach for every ten ministers to meet with and encourage them at least once a month instead of a distant ministerial director) and training minister to quite trying to do all the work in the local church. The result is that local congregations are feeling both respected and empower; local pastors and feeling respected and empowered and understandably the union is feeling threatened.
But the churches are beginning to come alive, spirituality is surging and real growth is starting to take place. I wish they would put this man in as GC president and then real vitality might be possible everywhere.

(le vieux) #9

Occasionally, in between naps. :slight_smile:

(Steve Mga) #10

For a Grass Roots program of communication, perhaps the conferences could set up local groups like the Atlanta Diocese of Episc. does. Here in middle Ga-Macon area there are a group of about 15 pastors that meet every month and discuss plans for the area. They elect a leader every year and keep minutes. Discuss what each is doing in their church, discuss how they can work together on projects. It has a very positive effect on both the large churches and the small churches.

Something else the Atlanta Diocese does. Every Year on a Saturday, they hold a Missions Exposition and everyone in the Diocese [from Columbus-Macon-Augusta up to the TN border] is invited to attend. Attendees only have time to attend 3 offerings from about 50 ministries that are offered. Most of the ministries are what the Lay members have begun in a local church and share with the rest. It is exciting to see the impact of such an Exposition has on local churches.
That is what got our little group of churches to begin our Path To Shine tutoring program in a depressed area and partner with an Independent church. This is our 5th year.
I was so excited about it my first year that I shared the program with the Canton, Ga SDA church pastor. And now they have been using the program for several years with immigrant families. They send pictures and reports for insertion in the News Letter and so I keep up with them that way.
By the way our program of 18 tutors that meets once a week on Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:30 includes tutors who are Episcopalian, Presbyterian, SDA [2 of us], and the Independent Community church [our host].

(Elaine Nelson) #11

Oh my, ecumenism at the grass roots level!

(Steve Mga) #12

Curious. Do you have a name of the Conference President? I have several former students whose ordained fathers have been recently promoted in OZ. Thanks.

(Steve Mga) #13


(Floyd) #14

His name is Justin Lawman. I was extremely impressed with his spirit, his passion and devotion. He is making waves in a very positive way there.