Why We Will Aways Have Segregated Conferences


(Spectrumbot) #1

It’s February. And in the United States, that means it’s Black History Month. It’s time for college campuses to ask the school’s gospel choir to perform for chapel. It’s the time of year when non-Black pastors call on their Black colleagues to pay an annual visit to their pulpits. Or, if they have no one on whom to call, it’s time to preach on unity and diversity and the reason we should tear down racial divides. The topic of the abolishment of regional conferences is especially good material for that.

Call me cynical. Because I am. We talk about unity and inclusion … once a year. After these four weeks are done, how many of our campuses and congregations will be putting in tangible work towards bridging racial divides? Of course there are more than just black/white divisions in our church, but this particular fissure is the most pronounced due to the Regional vs. State Conference organizational structures. But make no mistakes, even though one may find other ethnic groups “integrated” within conferences, they are still often very much separated by congregation. Many times having separate Campmeetings as well. Yes there are legitimate language considerations in some cases, but the reality is that the visible divisions are often external projections of much deeper invisible divides.

Even if we worship with those who share our backgrounds on most weeks, how often do we venture to fellowship with people of different backgrounds? How often is a guest pastor invited to preach who doesn’t look like the congregation? How often throughout the year are our campus churches intentionally incorporating worship styles that are representative of a variety of cultures? How often do organizational leaders actively engage in pushing back against injustices and discriminatory behavior in the world around us? We often neglect to do the individual and corporate work year round, but then try to be “extra socially conscious” during certain seasons. We pick select dates to preach and teach about the only people of color we know (i.e.: Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks) and we present the most palatable and bowdlerized versions of their lives at that. We subversively demonstrate that only certain forms of expression are acceptable by excluding lessons about historical contributions from various cultures to our church traditions.

And while much of this is seen as an issue in the US, this is not a uniquely American problem. While we boast of our church’s international presence, how much do we deliberately seek to learn about and from people who don’t look like us or who haven’t grown up where we have?

Representation and acceptance matters. Not just during special occasions. If representation didn’t matter, the Creation of humanity in God’s Image wouldn’t have been important. If it didn’t matter, the incarnation of Christ wouldn’t have been a big deal. Yet by Design, we are meant to see our connection to God through a shared Likeness. And when that was obscured by sin, Christ took on our form. In that way, we can still see ourselves in Him. Seeing yourself in someone you admire can change the path of your life as many influential people have testified time and time and time again. In order to foster true unity, we have to do more than just talk the talk one month out of twelve. We have to be purposeful in providing thoughtful representation (not just tokens) at all levels of our organization. Until this happens, all the sermons and chapel programs are just spinning their wheels. Merely talking isn’t going to unify our church. But, hey—it makes us feel good to be “unified” once a year!

Courtney Ray, MDiv, PhD is a clinical psychologist and ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Previous Spectrum columns by Courtney Ray can be found at:

https://spectrummagazine.org/authors/courtney-ray

Image Credit: Barbados Association, SDA Mission of North America

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8543

(David Cardona) #2

There will always be segregated conferences because people like to gather in groups where others are like themselves, and there is nothing at all wrong with that.


(Carlo Schroeder) #3

But has nothing to do with God, but man made concepts. So we say apartheid is ok, because each other, sorry culture when to their own conference. That only creates more resentment between members, not unity in Christ.


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #4

We will always have segregated conferences because our church prophet, EGW,
most emphatically declared that “whites and blacks should not worship under the same roof “

The WHITE ESTATE will happily supply this reference for you.

Our prophet made numerous racial and biased remarks, starting with her notorious
“Amalgamation theory” in which she conjectured that the black race was originated
by an amalgamation of humams with other species.

With this pernicious history, it is hard for our denomination to become integrated, even
a century after EGW’S demise.

Response to Robert King

Please contact the WHITE ESTATE for the specifics of this quote by EGW.
You will find that this is not a “hateful” accusation but a factual reporting of her actual statements. Have the White ESTATE supply you with ALL her racist commentary… They love transparency!


(Robert King) #5

“When the Holy Spirit moves upon human minds, all petty complaints and accusations between man and his fellow man will be put away. The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness will shine into the chambers of the mind and heart. In our worship of God there will be no distinction between rich and poor, white and black. All prejudice will be melted away. When we approach God, it will be as one brotherhood. We are pilgrims and strangers, bound for a better country, even a heavenly. There all pride, all accusation, all self-deception, will forever have an end. Every mask will be laid aside, and we shall “see Him as He is.” There our songs will catch the inspiring theme, and praise and thanksgiving will go up to God”.—The Review Herald

I would like you to take your own advice Robin about seeking counsel from the White Estate and give proof to your racial slur insinuation against Ellen White.

I would like to see the context of this hateful accusation by you.


(Harry Allen) #7

Thanks, Courtney Ray.

In short, we will aways have segregated conferences as long as we have a global system of white supremacy.

Or, put another way, as long as we do, we should.

HA


(Adventist Australia) #8

I find Harry’s comment above offensive and racist.

I dont agree with churches or conferences turning into ghetto’s that dont reflect the demographic makeup of the immediate surrounding community.

For example:

Allegheny Conference Leadership is all black but the racial makeup of the County in the latest census was 82.87% White, 14.39% Black or African American amongst other minor races. Churches in these communities where these negative changes are happening will not be frequented by local non-christian visitors when stepping into our churches feel they have been transported to another country…if a church or conference doesnt reflect a close cross section of its surrounding community then it has failed in its duty to reach all those in its area of influence.

From LBW:

“Danny you obviously have not visited any churches in the Allegheny East Conference are very diverse and does reflect the demographic of the community”

You dont need to visit the Conference when they have a website and showing all staff. The internet provides the rest of the demographics I need to show that this conference does not reflect its community or churches…its 2018…we have data now…a biased history wont cut it mate.


(Jeffrey Kent) #9

I’d say Ellen’s advice in creating black conferences was appropriate in her time. I don’t think it’s appropriate for all time.

I have no problem finding a ton of EG White quotes with Google searches, but only one mention comes up with this quote–your comment here. I’m a bit skeptical, but open to a change of mind with a reliable source. Where did you get the quote from, Robin?


(LeRoy.B. Washington) #10

Danny you obviously have not visited any churches in the Allegheny East Conference are very diverse and does reflect the demographic of the community; in fact it is likely more diverse that the corresponding state conference in the area. Do some research and learn the history.


(Harry Allen) #11

Thanks, @Danny .

You said:

In response:

Why?

HA


(Adventist Australia) #12

If I said the same but inserted “black” where you have “white” then my post would not last here…thats why…


(Adventist Australia) #13

Pick a church Leroy…I will do a demographic search on the area surrounding it and then you prove to me that it reflects its community…


(le vieux) #14

I hope you flagged his post, as so many do yours and mine. While you’re at it, flag ezbord’s post, as well, as it deliberately distorts the SOP, as is so common with her detractors.


(LeRoy.B. Washington) #15

Danny Adventist Australia I don’t know where you live but your research may require some legwork beyond general empirical analysis. You may need to physically visit several churches in both the Allegheny East conference and then churches in one or more state conferences covering the same geographic areas and think you find greater diversity in the Allegheny East Conference and them do your comparative empirical analysis. I would be interested in what you find.


(jeremy) #16

robin may be thinking of 9T:206:

“In regard to white and colored people worshiping in the same building, this cannot be followed as a general custom with profit to either party–especially in the South. The best thing will be to provide the colored people who accept the truth, with places of worship of their own, in which they can carry on their services by themselves. This is particularly necessary in the South in order that the work for the white people may be carried on without serious hindrance.”

this entire chapter can seem racist if it isn’t read properly…for instance, she counsels blacks to not seek equality with whites…

the way to understand this inspired counsel is that it is adapted to the time and circumstances of the situation, just like paul’s counsel to women to not speak, or teach or use authority of men, was adapted to the time and circumstances of that situation…there may be places today where racial integration isn’t wise, and where WO isn’t wise…

this general principle of adaptation also speaks to the way PUC is handling its LGBT situation…accommodation may not be wise in all, or even most, parts of the church…


(Adventist Australia) #17

I dont think it matters when we flag comments but it seems to matter when they do.


(Adventist Australia) #18

Why would I need to physically visit a church when I can look through whole albums from their church events and services?..a picture speaks 1000 words…you cant hide behind the excuse “your not here so you cant comment”…my question remains…why is the Allegheny conference largely devoid of white Adventist employees? It doesnt match the demographic from the surrounding regions. If your church or conference is out of touch with its community it will fail in reaching those it should be reaching and become a ghetto of exclusivity.

My challenge remains…pick a church…I will do a demographic search on the area surrounding it and then you prove to me that it reflects its community……your closer to the scene as you say…you show me from your end what you got and I will show you what you dont have…


(le vieux) #19

Maybe if you can get all your friends to flag inappropriate comments. Sometimes there is strength in numbers. All I know is that if the negative comments made against the church and some of its godly leaders, were directed against their favorite “progressives” and their causes, they would receive multiple flags and nasty grams from the mods.


(Harry Allen) #20

Thanks, @Danny.

You said:

In response:

I don’t know what you mean by, “…my post would not last here.”

Are you saying that, were you to write:

…your “post would not last here,” and, presumably, would be taken down?

If so, well, I would hope so, as should you.

I would hope that the moderator would, first, reach out and say, “Danny, you mean ‘white supremacy,’ correct? Because there’s no such thing as ‘Black Supremacy.’”

In other words, racism is white supremacy. I said that as long as there’s a global system of white supremacy, we’re going to have regional conferences, and we probably should. That way, Black people will be able to get the resources that white people hoard.

The statement may be offensive. If one is a racist, I suspect that it would be offensive. (Of course, I’m not saying that you are a racist.)

As for my statement being racist, well, no: It’s promoting counter-racism.

I am a victim of racism (white supremacy). So, I would not promote racism; that which victimizes me.

I’m against white supremacy and want to see it replaced with justice. Hence my statement.

HA


(reliquum) #21

Harry, why is that?
Is that because you believe that Blacks (who seemingly cannot be racist/supremacist)
are somehow superior to Whites (who invariably cannot help themselves therefore racist/supremacist)?

On the face of it, your comment seems indefensible.

I suggest here, with an attempt to keep a straight face, that perhaps we ought also have a “Womens Conference”. After all, male supremacy is not just a North American problem, has existed far longer, Blacks practice it, and, well, forgive me for borrowing your words,
“because there can be no such thing as female supremacy”

How would that prevent victimization and promote justice?