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My All-White World — 108 Comments

  1. I'm so glad that in God's kingdom, we'll all be talking, interacting, enveloping each other with the love of Christ. On this earth, I was one of those people who entered exclusive worlds invited and uninvited during those times.

    I'm so glad that there'll be no need to hide ourselves, for any reason whether color, culture or other differences between us in our Father's house. We will know each other as we are known, and we'll gladly accept the juice as Christ passes it at the welcome table, representing His blood spilled for all who enter.

    • I responded to this post when it was first written, and I'm amazed at comments that have come after mine.

      As Adventists it's amazing how many reasons and excuses we have for something that isn't right. We fix it up, add an accepted cliché, superficial principle or historically accepted explanation and carry it around like God is in support of what we do, because we're comfortable with it.

      There was a time when some of our reasons did make sense but do they really apply today? I think we are naïve if we say, "I'm sure people who are different are accepted in my church or that church." Do we personally interact with "those" people or bring them to our homes for lunch?" I'd love to believe that we do, but I don't.

      I've been turned away from churches myself when I didn't fit the racial majority, and that was before experiencing any part of the service. There are times when I've seen someone different in my church, outside of my spouse, who happens to be not of my ethnic background, and failed to invite them or make them feel more than a handshake welcome.

      This idea of different cultures worshipping differently, I understand. But is it real or another excuse we use to be exclusive and comfortable in our own limited worlds. Is the idea that ALL "you guys" are so different in your worship style from "us-guys" that we can't worship together from week to week really true? We're saying that the God who saves us from eternal destruction by His blood can't help us commune, cooperate, compromise in our worship styles so that we have diversity in our worship and praise to Him? Our God has no power when it comes to unifying His children?!? How sad, if it were true.

      The miracle of Christian unity isn't how the same people, having the same experience thoughts and ideas can come together. The miracle amongst God's people is their ability to be different, yet still have unity. There's no miracle if there's no diversity!!!!!

      Ephesians 4:1-6 "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

      Maybe this is why we pray for the Holy Spirit to fall on us as on the day of Pentecost, and get no answer...

      • Nanci, beautifully expressed. I like your statement that "miracle" comes with difference.
        Generally, Florida orange juice comes with the practice of racism, oppression and demeaning of the poor, lighter skin access to favor, positions, healthcare, etc, in institutions (including the SDA Church); but grace and fellowship comes by Jesus Christ". So, as you said, let us feast at the table Christ sets before us, after we first wash each others feet.

      • I love the fact that you mentioned diversity in our churches. Even though we are a predominantly black church, we still have different style of worship. We embrace feedback so that we can give a variety of worship. Thanks for your comment. I love gospel music but I also love hymns. I like Israel Houghton, I love Jesus Culture, I love Hillsong, I love Fred Hammond. God is good.

  2. [Moderator note: please use first and last names when commenting on this site. Thanks!]
    I wish this message can come to some Whites here in South Africa where there are churches for whites only

    • The message doesn't need to go that far to South Africa. Right here in South Florida we, "Seventh-Day Adventist, God's chosen, remnant and peculiar people", have separate Conferences and Churches. If fact, I saw a White Church slowly rid themselves of an entire building when Blacks started attending the church. When I first learnt of it, I thought, what Heaven do we think we are going if we can't live like family here on earth.

      • Taking both of these stories as-is, I do sometimes wonder:

        If our unique message cannot directly confront this kind of un-Christian behaviour in ourselves, then what do we really have as the remnant church?
        A strange message about beasts and an obsession with the calendar?

        • If our unique message cannot directly confront this kind of un-Christian behaviour in ourselves, then what do we really have as the remnant church?

          Andrew, I think that the message has all the elements to combat this issue, but the messengers are not necessarily giving the trumpet a certain sound.

      • Even in South Africa, our largest black conference is overlaid by a white conference. Churches have been sold because blacks started attending in significant numbers. Membership have been transferred (from black church to black church) because too many foreigners began to congregate there.

        A sad message we present to each other and the world. I have friends (both whites and blacks), not white friends and black friends. I hope we have a piece of heaven now, where we realise we will all be together. One Lord, one faith, one church 🙂

        • One Lord, one faith, one church, one Creator of us all. A rejection of any part of God's creation is a rejection of God. We are saying in fact that we find fault with what He has made. Has God indeed deliberately created certain races to be the objects of cruelty, hatred and separation? Then God is divided against Himself and everything He says about love and unity and dying for all is madness. 1Cor.1:13a "Is Christ divided?" Prejudice and racism are satanic.
          1Cor.4:6-7 "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what has thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" See also Colossians 1:12-16 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (not light skin) who hath delivered us from the power of darkness (not dark skin)and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son...all things were created by Him and for Him." vs.21-23 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works (power of darkness), yet now hath he reconciled...to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN.

      • This is so sad! but I am not surprise at all. Americans still hate and fear those they deprived of freedom and forced into slavery to build their wealth. The so called "christians" have failed in sharing and living the gospel. With their attitude have thrown thousands of souls towards other religions. There will be no peace until they acknowledged the damage they have done. Have not they reads the gospel? "For in Jesus there is not Jew or Gentile, ( or white or black or hispanic or asian or native?) "

      • I have seen this also witness it also here in So Florida. It is sad. I love to worship with my white brothers and sisters, but they do not embrace the fact that we visit too often and if we decide to say. Just sad.

  3. I love the article. It was very interesting, considering the fact that we are all aiming to live in a place where the color of one skin is irrelevant.

  4. What a blessed day that will be. I would be honored to serve you some orange juice. Thank you for this article this surely warms my heart.

    May God continue to bless you. You are reaching more people than you think.

    • We have that same sad situation in the NY/NJ area unfortunately (separate conferences)!! My church has a black majority and I'm white but we are all so loving and accepting!! Thank God for that!

  5. Is this a joke? It reads like one especially in a church with white conferences and black conferences and where you can be totally ignored in a white church! But the point has been made, hasn't it?

  6. Let each of us decide that we don't want to wait until we get to heaven to serve that orange juice. Start now. Are we not suppose to have " a little bit of heaven upon the earth" now. Jesus lives in our hearts now.

  7. I grew up, and am still SDA – I love the church. That being said, the thing that frustrates me the most is how ethnicity is still such an integral part of the church. The church is literally the most segregated institution that I see in my area. I cannot believe that we have churches blocks away from each other in my area that are in two different conferences solely because one is a "white church" and the other is a "minority church." It saddens and embarrasses me to no end.

    I keep hearing members like the author, and pastors talk about how in heaven we will be one family. Are we naive enough as a denomination to think that we don't need to make every effort to make this happen now? This is not a knock against the author but I have a hunch that her church is predominately made up of one ethnicity (mine is to). Even if I wanted to attend somewhere that was more representational of heaven I would have to attend a church from another denomination – there are no blended churches in my whole region. I guess I don't understand how the local, regional, and general conference can still justify separate conferences. We can't talk about being the remnant when our churches are divided among color lines (and I don't buy the argument that it's about worship style preferences, that's just a veiled attempt at saying ethnicity). With how dire the financial situations are of some of our churches, it would make sense to pool resources of churches that are in the same area, but we can't do that because they are in different conferences.

    It must break God's heart to see how we separate ourselves from each other because of our ethnicity. It is sad that he has to look at some other denominations and to see all his children coming together weekly. My prayer is that one day we'll get it right before it's to late.

    • There are many factors beside racism--and it may be present or not present in differing disappointing degrees.
      However, there are other, more mundane factors to consider:

      1. People tend to go to church in their neighbourhoods. Traditionally in the USA (and probably elsewhere) neighbourhoods have been segregated by decades of forces.
      This would mean that the congregations would reflect the neighbourhoods nearby.

      2. Adventist history created the need for regional conferences (what many call black/white). While they are a reminder of what was, that does not mean that what was still is.
      In other words, the conditions that caused the regional conferences to be formed have changed (not going to argue degree) and have left us with the structure.
      It is erroneous to assume that black/white churches means black/white hatred (at least as it was long ago).
      Issues and difficulties probably still remain but much of what exists is structural.

      I highly doubt blacks are unwelcome in "white" conferences and churches or that whites are unwelcome in "black" conferences and churches--although I would expect bad apples tp exist.

      3. My more major concern is that it *seems* that we have focused so long on being peculiar for its own sake.
      Does this peculiarity help us to behave better? Or just look different? Do we love in a more meaningful way? Or just believe different Biblical facts than others?
      Are we prescient? Forward-looking? Healers? Or just "nice"?

      To me that is more meaningfully counter-cultural than avoiding wearing pants--for example.

      • Andrew, when I have asked members of black conferences why they continue post Civil Rights Act, they replied, "How would whites feel about being absorbed into the black conferences with black leadership over their churches at the conference and the union level?" His point was that eliminating black conferences was always about blacks being absorbed into white conferences, not the other way around. When we turn the situation around we perhaps can see how that would make them feel. We had a church in the Spokane area refuse to accept a black pastor recently. They were fine with blacks attending, just not being in charge. It seems we have a long way to go before we can truly become one people.

        • [Moderator's note: Please use your full name.]

          Stephen, I think your comment was very insightful and reflective. We see the same scenario in some white adventist schools where black administrators hold positions. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there. The Lord is soon to come. Our so called righteousness is like "Filthy Rags" My prayer is that we lay aside those issues that keep us from really knowing Gods will.

    • Our White (former) GC President represented quite a few leaders, past and present, in truthfully saying to an audience of thousands of colored folks (and TV audience)that Black SDAs asked for Black Conferences; effectively manipulatively placing responsibility (blame)on those they would not allow to be in leadership in a White institution called the SDA church.

      As with the history of the USA, so with the SDA church, no matter what the statistics indicate, a leader whose color is Black is an aberration that must be avoided at all cost less we become demeaned through infestation with their crimes, cognitive deficiencies and color inferiority. The constituency of color learned and believed it through Sabbath School and AY, so vote appropriately with regularity.

      As seen, it is much easier to elect a President of color, hated though he might be, in the secular political world than in the SDA Church. So let's start from the top -- under the scalp of every member, and let us discover for real whether we might all have been educated, socialized, manipulated by an external force to believe that we serve a White God.

      We have a difficult situation now. Retirement funding of those who work for the Regional Conferences is far superior to that offered by the White Conferences and GC, because of better advise and insight in their early development. So remember, our Church is based on encouraging the generosity of its members, not in itself being generous, so the larger system with an inferior plan will not improve its offering to its workers (and continue to produce some terrible stories). That is a dilemma in integration; but individual conferences are making efforts to work together, in good faith. Talk about a trap, set and successful. Lord, please help us out of this aberration in Christianity.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly that heavenly unity should begin here and now. I didn't mean to imply that we remain segregated until heaven. No way! Lucas my church is about 80 percent black, a mix of island and African American. The rest is a mix of Latino, White, Filipino and other ethnicities. We love each other and race rarely presents conflict. We talk openly about our cultural differences. I think some of the Black folks felt marginalized years back when the church was more White. Some have wounds from that. But God is healing them here on earth as He said He would when we love as Christ loves.

    • Blacks and other minority groups did not just feel marginalized, they were marginalized. This phenomenon of separate churches/conferences also occurred in other denominations that were split over tensions relating to black slavery, slave ownership, racism and other related factors. White churches and congregations would not hire black ministers and segregation was real(and at that time it was not an issue of different worship styles). As Legall pointed out it left a structure not only in our churches but in our neighborhoods and society as a whole. We are still trying to overcome. Growth is happening and the persistence of Spirit of Christ in our lives and our surrender will keep us united, though the reality of racial/ethnic/cultural group differences will persist. And, yes worship styles are different. Nothing is wrong with that as long as we understand the differences between personal preference and Biblical principles. And, we need not confuse the truth and message of the Bible with the methods for conveying it.

    • My family and I are first generation SDA, about 16 years now. I want to say for the record, our experience has been wonderfully multicultural, in 3 churches now. 2 in Maryland and now in east Tenn. It has been great to be in the white minority! This has been a most wonderful blessing for us in the SDA church. The message is here, even though it is shunned by some congregations and leaders. Don't let this issue rest. It is too wonderful a blessing to miss. Spread the truth. Hold each other accountable to the "mystery of the Gospel"

    • Jennifer, your story is profound in that you were able, apparently, to identify at a very early age that Estelle was not being treated right. Depending on where I am standing, I can say: "Oh what a marvelous child!", Or: "This child hasn't learned anything from her parents."

      On the other hand I can ask you the more reflective question: "Who in your experience as a child showed you love, and taught you to love everyone (meaning what person(s) socialized you differently)?" Or : "Did you have an early walk with Jesus Christ, where the Holy Spirit worked with the heart of a little child?".

      Without questioning your decision, while recognizing motivating factors since you were a child, may I also ask: "What made you chose to join a Black to diverse congregation as your home Church, perhaps rather than attend a White church where you have the possibility of influencing positively its ingrained culture and motives of exclusivity?" Maybe even developing for the SDA Church some considerations for assisting White congregations into changing patterns of thinking and acting? Your gift and love for writing might provide some contextual energy and method for Christ's ministry of Oneness. I take it that you already know that America has a greater difficulty than many countries in accepting the Black/African American as an equal when there is still the ingrained feeling that Blacks are servants or slaves and can never be equal to Whites. (The larger part of American Whites still can't live down the terrible feeling that a Black American beat them out of the Presidency for 2 terms in office; and Blacks are still feared as my potential robber of killer in the store, in the night, breaking into my house). What is your calling for this hour?
      God Bless.

    • Hi! I must say I am very shocked and appalled at what is going on in our Adventist churches in the USA. I am part of the faith from the island of Trinidad and Tobago where race,isn't an issue in our church, maybe in the country but not in our churches and though I know we are culturally different I pray that we find the love that encompasses race culture and whatever else in everything let God be praised I love you all my brethren let us labour to live peacefully and spread God's love among us so that we can spread it to the world. Blessed peace joy and prosperity.

  9. Yes,I do know that black people have suffered much discrimination, especially in the USA , AND THAT WAS SO WRONG!! The CONDITION still permeates today, howbeit in subtler ways, most of the time. However, do realize that sometimes when we cry discrimination/segregation/prejudice, it is not. People of different cultures/ethnic groups worship in different ways; all Seventh- day Adventists services, but different flavors. I have lived across cultures/ethnic groups, and believe me, it's different. Surprise, surprise! People wanting to worship elsewhere might have nothing to do with color or race.

  10. I'll worship God with anyone. I'm rather picky about the kind of worship taking place in church. If I don't like it, I won't go there. If the kind of worship I don't like happens to be peculiar to a particular ethnic group, then it's not racism, it's just personal taste in action. I think this pinpoints why this divide continues to this day. We also have liberal and conservative churches and the attendees at these would hardly be seen at the ones they don't like. But no one considers this divide a shame, do we?

    • "I'm rather picky about the kind of worship taking place in church. If I don't like it, I won't go there. "
      I hope I'm not too strident, but:

      Does God feel the same way? What is the purpose of worship?

      I have been blessed by many different Adventists from many different places. What kept me the most is the way that they showed love and acceptance to me.
      I have come to appreciate a wide variety of worship over time.

      Maybe everybody just has a different personality and a different tolerance for new things. Does this have a place in the discussion?

      I thought about C.S. Lewis for some reason:

      "When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit."

      I am not at all trying to say that you are conceited, but hope rather to point out what I believe to be a larger purpose to worship and a larger end to fellowship--in my small opinion. I think that if God puts his love in our hearts we wouldn't mind strange music, or food or people.

      Does this make any sense?

    • What about the issue of compromise? Does anyone knows the kind of worship that will take place in heaven? How will we respond to it if it doesn't fit our preference? We must recognized also, that the atmosphere in heaven will not cater to those choosing to go to another worship service simply because they are dissatisfied with one. It will not be possible for me to go through the gate on the east because I see my brother standing at the west gate. If this is our practice run for heaven,the question must then be asked, How are we doing?

  11. Several people have brought up the fact that some churches are either predominantly White or predominantly Black. And I might add that in the US and Canada, there are churches that are predominantly Hispanic.

    I would like to suggest that that is not necessarily the result of racism or racial prejudice. It is often a matter of just the way people like to worship.

    I am of German background, which is pretty staid by most standards. Many from my background would feel uncomfortable with the musical styles and interactive worship in a typical Black American Adventist congregation. (Loud "Amen!" and "Preach it, Brother!") It can get pretty lively. 😉 And, to tell the truth, I rather like it, in spite of my background. I find it refreshingly "real."

    But a Black person with British background could very well be just as uncomfortable in a Black American congregation as any White person with British background. Is more of a cultural thing than a racial thing.

    And then there are the Hispanic congregations, with a very "different" culture, according to an American friend who worships in a White American congregation that is struggling, while there is a healthy Hispanic congregation in the same town. (The fact that services are held in Spanish is probably a deciding factor. 😉 ) But here's the thing: The Hispanic young people - teenagers and young adults -- do not attend the Hispanic congregation. If they attend anywhere, they will attend the English-speaking congregation. They no longer identify with the strict, formal culture of the Hispanic congregation. Again, it's not a racial thing, but a cultural/generational thing. And it is left up to the English-speaking (predominantly White) congregation to do the outreach in that predominantly Hispanic American town because the second generation of Hispanics are not willing to revert to old Hispanic culture.

    Ideally, of course, we'd all mix together in one congregation and make allowances for each other - with each culture making its own unique contribution. It sounds as though that's happening in Jennifer's church. Praise the Lord for that!

    This concept of mixing together and making allowances for each other is necessary not just for different races but also for different age groups. Too often our churches are dominated by folks over 60 who love the music of their generation and deem contemporary music to be "of the devil" or someone related to him. It just doesn't make for good relations. 😉 And the folks over 60 like to do things the way they were always done, when young people have ideas of doing things to in a way that is more attractive to contemporary culture. We need to work together -- ideally all ages and all races in one congregation! It probably means we each have to give up a little and learn to enjoy someone else's preferences.

    But I think we shouldn't be too quick to judge the those congregations that have a particular racial majority. In my experience, we (fair skin, blue eyes) were heartily welcomed in Black congregations, and in the White congregations in which we have worshiped, we certainly welcomed Black people. As a matter of fact, skin color just wasn't relevant. We just loved the bit of color introduced by other races. 🙂

    To tell the truth, though, I tend to enjoy "ethnic" churches. It's a bit like traveling to another country without the air fare expense. 🙂

    Our Creator God loves variety. Let us learn from Him. 🙂

  12. Hi God's children. I am shocked to learn that there is some kind of racism in worship in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. You know I do not understand how heaven-bound people can feel uncomfortable worshipping with others when ungodly scholars and scientists can work together as a team! Sounds like the Jews who felt that salvation was not for the Gentiles. If we are to step in to heaven, all our racial, social status, ethnic and regional differences have to washed away by the cleansing blood of our Lord Jesus who died for christians, muslims, buddhists, whites, blacks, hispanics and asians.

    • I've come to realize especially in the remnant church there is a lot of racism. Sometimes I am embarrassed to know that we do not try to accommodate each other worship style. I know that whites worship differently than black and that's ok. We can learn to enjoy each other worship style. One is not right over the other. I have also realize that whenever black step foot in a Adventist predominantly white church, that the white start to move out gradually and now that church become all black. This is so sad. Most of the white members worship in their homes just to avoid blacks. I am black but I also love my white brothers and sister and it is unfortunate that they do not want to be around me for long. In Florida where I live, we have two white that has been a member of our church for years and we love them and they love us. That is what Christianity is all about. Come on Adventist Christians, get it together.

  13. Inge you're right, we shouldn't assume racism when we see segregation, whether chosen or official. Worship style differences account for some of it, and history accounts for why we have separate conferences. I heard from (I'm pretty sure it was) Ricardo Graham that the separate conferences started when a fair-skinned Black woman had a medical emergency and ended up in the White SDA hospital in DC. When they realized she was black they transported her to the Black SDA hospital, but she died in transit. . .

    He said the separate conferences served several purposes, one of them being more employment of Black pastors. In other words, at least some of the reasons were sound.

    The nation was racially divided during that time. Now that the nation has better learned to live as equals (with exceptions), we Christians should evolve out of the separate conferences. But that process would require thought and care.

    Our church is great. I love it. Many of the Island people don't like the gospel style of worship popular in the Black churches, so they come to our church, which is more traditional. We have a big pipe organ and we love hymns. But if someone does a contemporary song we don't faint.

    I find a multi-ethnic congregation to be more stimulating than a racially homogenous one. People are so fascinating, ethnicity is fascinating, and culture is fascinating.

    • Jennifer I embrace your comment. In Florida we have Southeastern conference and Florida Conference. Southeastern is all black conference and Florida Conference in run by the "white". There are a lot of black churches under the Florida conference because one, the worship style of many blacks enjoy the "traditional" worship. We must learn to embrace all of our brothers and sister no matter color, ethic. We would like to see more whites visit black church and visa versa. Then we can truly say we are Christians. I am black and I love gospel music and high praise gospel music will be in heaven. We clap, we have drums, base guitars, etc. We sing and shout because we have something to praise God about, our fore-fathers were slaves. One the other hand, I do enjoy traditional hymn, which we also sing. So, we have a variety. One Love to my Adventist family. I love you all.

  14. Perhaps it should be noted that a preference for an ethnic congregation does not imply racial intolerance. I am aware that North America has some particular historical issues here and it is quite right to ensure that those issues are faced. On the other hand welcoming ethnic churches have much to contribute to the spirit of the Adventist church. We neeed to distinguish carefully between ethnic identity and racism and every effort should be made to ensure that one does not morph into the other.

  15. Quite interesting to hear those diversified comments. Human nature without the intervention of the Holy Spirit will continue to pose a carnal problem. Without the intervention of The Lord's, who could have transformed SAUL to PAUL? The Mighty God is closely watching from above. He knows who are His. What matters is individualized way of life which is worthy of acceptance by Him. He knows every 'heart'.

    • Benjamin, you hit the nail on the head. No matter how much the scripture teaches on walking in the Spirit and not the flesh, it seems few really get it.

      When I first loved Jesus and knew Him as Lord, He gave me a new spirit. He had to because the Holy Spirit could not dwell in my corrupted spirit, and that is why he had to give me one that was pure and clean completely void of the death caused by sin. By this I was "born again," just as He taught we need to be to have life. Now that the Holy Spirit had a place to dwell, God sent Him to live inside my spirit so that His communication with me can begin. This was His gift to me because I had faith in Him. I understand that He cannot dwell in my mind or my body because it still exists with its corrupt nature; so I have learned not to trust in my own thoughts, emotions, or feelings. I prayed for an ear to hear what the Spirit within says, and I strive to yield my flesh to His will so that I may enjoy His goodness. I wish more Christians would understand that when they were saved, God opened up His communication with them by giving them a new spirit as well, and that He dwells in them. Then maybe they will take up their cross, listen to the Spirit within, hear was He says, and follow Him. Only if we all work with God together in the Holy Spirit will there be no carnal problems in the Church.

  16. Our conference and some of our churches are not able to see God clearly as who he really is, I can't make my self belief that there would be ethnic group of any kind worshiping Jesus in heaven or here on earth today with any part of their heart hold or imply racial intolerance of Jesus creation I would believe they would have a part with him now or In the heaven to come.
    Jesus speaks, I am God, I changes not, look at nature, trees grow up and point toward haven and they are not all the same kind or same side, neither do they imply they are in a different conference white or black, my city Memphis, Tn. church's 15 miles apart white and black conference, there is no genuine love for Jesus when our SDA conference continue permit this type business of God, I am never able to see the God of creation running his business like this, two conference managing Jesus tithes and offering in the same city, this is a big waste of God tithes, I am please to see and understand the service in the sanctuary of old does not allow room for any racial division to enter into the most holy place of God, neither do I find any of this division at the cross, a world church who hold the truth about God, also hold the biggest division with the worshiper of Jesus creation, in the house of God I see this as a shame when we

    • You know, Claude, at our BC Camp meetings we have special individual Sabbath potlucks for all alumni of different schools. Is there something wrong with that? If not, would there be something wrong with the alumni getting together for church every Sabbath? If not, what's wrong with people from different backgrounds worshiping together?

      It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't love anyone else. After all we have to choose some group with whom to worship. All worshipers in the world won't fit into one building. 😉

      Come to think of it, I think we'll be able to get together with friends from this planet when we get to heaven. (And most likely they'll be from our own ethnic group.) We'll be able to reminisce about some of our best experiences. 🙂 Or do you think that won't be allowed?

      My point is that we need to make a clear distinction about treating each other badly and meeting with a group in which we feel comfortable. Just because people worship in ethnic congregations (whether or not skin color is involved) doesn't mean they don't love those different from themselves. We need to be careful not to nurse old hurts, or we can't love those different from ourselves. And we need to refrain from making judgments that only God can make.

  17. Our Duty to the Colored People” is arguably Ellen White’s most clarion presentation on the matter of race and the gospel. This landmark address was delivered to the General Conference constituency on March 21, 1891, in Battle Creek, Michigan.

    "At the same time we must not carry things to extremes and run into fanaticism on this question. Some would think it right to throw down every partition wall and intermarry with the colored people, but this is not the right thing to teach or to practice." "We should educate colored men to be missionaries among their own people. "

    E.G. White was not a racist person but her language was colored by the history of racism.

    • Well considering the histrionics from some people after Cheerios ran an ad with an interracial couple EGW was right to urge caution 100+ years ago.

    • It should be noted that Sis White's guidance here was not just something she made up, but something that was given to her of God. There's a reason she says (quite often when discussing this subject), "based on the light I have been given..."

    • In the British Columbia Conference of Canada, we are purposefully fostering ethnic churches - specifically Filipino churches with Filipino pastors focused on Filipino immigrants.

      Is there something wrong with this?

      By extension, is there something wrong with maintaining existing ethnic churches?

      I believe we should not look down on any race, gender or nationality different from our own. But does that mean that it is wrong for different racial or ethnic groups to have their own clubs and their own churches, providing they are not exclusive? (That is, if I, with my light skin and blue eyes enjoy attending a Filipino environment, I hope I would be welcome. Likewise, if some Filipinos or Afro American prefer a mainline white church, I hope they would be welcome.)

      And if we believe that there is neither male nor female before God, does that mean there is something wrong with women's clubs, women's ministries, men's clubs and men's ministries?

      It seems to me that we tend to gather together into all sorts of groups.

      It seems to me that mutual respect, love and trust is essential. In other words, we should trust those of other backgrounds that they are not "against us" just because they are meeting mainly among themselves. Or am I missing something?

      I love ethnic variety in a congregation - providing this also introduces variety into our worship services and ministries. I'm not so fond of a majority controlling the board and making things happen their way. 😉 Ideally, we all work together and contribute to a wonderful patchwork of ministries in our local congregation. 🙂

    • Ellen White was a black women. She may have looked white but she was black. Jesus himself was not white. When Jesus was born and God spoke to Joseph saying, "Take the child and Mary to Egypt". During those time Egyptians were dark skinned people. How can you hide a child that is white among a black nation and did not stick out like a sore thumb. I am not saying that Jesus was black directly, but He was not white. We need to understand that the only race is the human race, human decided to make this a race issue. do not address blacks as colored, we are just black, we come in different shades of black and just as white have different shade of white such as olive completion. Let's just love one another.

  18. [Moderator's note: Please use your full name to assist with maintaining the integrity of this blog.]

    Attended my predominantly white neighborhood church in spite of concerns from well meaning colleagues. To my great surprise the white sister sitting next to me welcomed me and promptly invited me to have lunch with her family. Same thing happened the next week - a different white sister this time. We can change this- one sister/brother at a time.

  19. Conley I love your tree analogy.

    I think in this discussion we have to affirm that on which we all agree: We should worship together, regardless of race. And we should do it NOW and not wait for heaven. To gain an understanding of how history, worship style, culture, etc. impact the current situation is not to accept the current situation; in fact it is to take the first step in remedying the current situation by reasoning from cause to effect so that we get to the root of the problem. Admitting the problem and understanding the problem are not tantamount to accepting the problem.

  20. [Moderator's note: Please use your full name to assist with maintaining the integrity of this blog.]

    I have been in this faith for over 30 years and this issue has always been an embarrassment to me. What heaven do we think we are going to? I have been taught that this earth is our preparation ground. It we don't change our hearts about this we are not going anyway. We are worshipping in vein.

  21. As a black SDA growing up and living in the cradle of the confederacy, and a product of "an all black world," I read with interest the author's experience. My world was just the opposite. As a teen in the 60's, segregation was an accepted fact; one that most blacks did not embrace. It wasn't so much the segregation as it was the inequality. We had no boots let alone the strings by which to pull ourselves up. The "Estelle's" were our mothers and grandmothers who worked in the all white world but couldn't give us what the author's world afforded. They kept their sanity by singing and like the birds that the author mentioned, too often their song was shattered by the "claw" of life, but it didn't stop their singing. Their songs went underground and became moans and unscripted groans too sorrowful to put into words.
    I grew up in that all black world where the only white faces we saw were the Mr. or Mrs. bringing our mothers and grandmothers home. In church, I learned of the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17:3 that we might all be one. I read about the "healing of the nations" in the New Jerusalem. But that was not what I saw in church members who were supposed to be living the word. Fast forward to the 80's when I began worshipping in an all white church in the same city. Some whites actually opened their hearts and homes to my family, while others audibly with vehemence voted "nay" to people of color after their baptism. In retrospect, I understand. I truly understand. You see, Jesus was not living in those persons hearts. The Holy Spirit is the Great Equalizer and it is only the Holy Spirit that will make the future the present. Let me tell you about my church today. Several years ago our church was transformed by the power of the Holy spirit. It was during the Global Rain initiative. The Holy spirit broke down walls that had separated us, not just racial walls but all walls that that foster division in a church. Amazing!!!! Today, our church is a vibrant, multi ethnic congregation with 21 nationalities. We work and move as "one." Is everyone on board? Absolutely not! Sister White says that God will pour out His Spirit on a church if the majority of the members are seeking it. Our church is a magnet that draws people of all races because of its loving diversity. Unity in the body is possible within diversity with Christ as OUR FATHER. Our church stands as a model of what can be done in the "here and now" if our people pray and seek His face. And they will know we are Christians by our love. I am reminded of the words of two powerful songs that have become my national anthems as a starting place for the healing of the races, and anything that separates people
    ~David Friedman
    So many things you can't control
    So many hurts that happen everyday
    So many heartaches that pierce the soul
    So much pain that won't ever go away

    How do we make it better?
    How do we make it through?
    What can we do when there's nothing we can do?

    We can be kind
    We can take care of each other
    We can remember that deep down inside
    We all need the same thing
    And maybe we'll find
    If we are there for each other
    That together we'll weather whatever tomorrow may bring

    Nobody really wants to fight
    Nobody really wants to go to war
    If everyone wants to make things right
    Then what are we always fighting for?

    Does nobody want to see it?
    Does nobody understand?
    The power to heal is right here in our hands.

    And it's not enough to talk about it
    Not enough to sing a song
    We must walk the walk about it
    You and I
    Do or die
    We've got to try to get along

    We can be kind
    We can take care of each other
    We can remember that deep down inside
    We all need the same thing
    And maybe we'll find
    If we are kind to each other
    That together we'll weather whatever tomorrow may bring

    And maybe we'll find
    True peace of mind
    If we always remember
    We can be kind.

    Worlds Apart: From Big River

    I see the same stars through my window
    That you see through yours
    But we're worlds apart
    Worlds apart
    And I see the same skies through brown eyes
    That you see through blue
    But we're worlds apart, worlds apart
    Just like the earth, just like the sun
    Two worlds together are better than one
    I see the sun rise in your eyes
    That you see in mine
    But we're worlds apart, worlds apart
    And you see the same skies through brown eyes
    That I see through blue
    But we're worlds apart, worlds apart
    Just like the earth, just like the sun
    Two worlds together are better than one
    I see the friendship in you eyes
    That you see in mine
    But we're worlds apart, worlds apart
    Together, but worlds apart

    • Thank you for sharing. I agree. We have to learn to love everyone. No one Is superior than the other. not race, nothing.

  22. Amy Mapp thanks for a beautiful post. You got my meaning, and added so much to it. I feel great remorse for what my race did to your race. Some won't accept that, but I think you will. I know I'm not individually responsible but I am corporately responsible and I want to say I chose the path of Jesus over the path of racism.

  23. It leaves my jaw dropped and saddens my heart to hear these different stories among God's children. But all there is to do is prayer, prayer that God will pour out his spirit, on every leader and member of our church and fill our hearts with the love that he knows so well, that we are inspired to change our ways and continue as faithful ambassadors to his Kingdom.

  24. I have been in this faith for over 30 years and this issue has always been an embarrassment to me. What heaven do we think we are going to? I have been taught that this earth is our preparation ground. It we don't change our hearts about this we are not going anyway. We are worshipping in vein.

  25. Just a real quick, minute note amidst all the great discussion here - The verse at the end should be Revelation 21:25-26, not Rev. 21:5-6. I looked it up to read it in another version and got really confused! I was thinking to myself, "I've seen some differences between versions, but the difference can't be THAT great!" LOL!

  26. its really sad, that this discussion is taking place in this century, and in this time, when Christ coming is more close than we could even think. The blood that flows from his side with water mingling was not exclusive to any culture or race, it was for ALL... in Revelation he predicts of the great multitude from every TRIBE, RACE, LANGUAGE...and we can make all the excuses we want, but in GODS eyes, we are all ONE. This is SATANS delusion people, and wake yourself up, YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED IN GODS KINGDOM, BECAUSE AFFLICTION WILL NOT RISE ANOTHER TIME. Face it, there will be no separate fountain for Whites only or Colored only, there will be one fountain, and that is the fountain filled with blood drawn from Emanuel's veins. So if there is only Black Conferences and White conferences, is that telling me that there will be no Asians, and Spanish or any other cultures in America's so called heaven? Wake up we that are sleeping in the dust. Because you have no idea, how many souls we are turning away, just by doing those ungodly things in the name of Righteousness. Yes, bible verses were used to subject other people to slavery, and in my estimation, I cannot image why other people are ethnic, that shows superiority and segregation in my understanding, and if we continue to uphold these principles, how are we going to make converts of all men? The commission in Matthew 28 is to go make disciples of ALL MEN. Not to set up set up conferences or institutions for some MEN.

    • I love the way you describe our problem with "ethnicity"! I believe you're right on the mark when you define and describe these attitudes. You're right, we must allow God to remove these very worldly ideas from our thoughts and actions towards others!!!

  27. Sin is a strange thing isn’t it! We hate what shouldn’t be hated and love what shouldn’t be loved. We look at our church and say shame, shame and don’t realize that what we are dealing with is a sin problem just like every other one that has existed from the fall in Eden. All sin, whatever it is, will be in the church because the wheat and tares are to grow up together until the harvest at the end when Christ comes back for His people so it shouldn’t surprise us one bit that such things exist among God’s people.

    We hear about this group treating another group in ways that are inhuman and normally the context is white against black. However, racial and ethnic issues aren’t confined to just one group but exist between every group of people on earth. You who have been on the receiving end of racial issues are correct in complaining about the abuse and you shake your finger at the abusers and think in your heart, “If I were on the other side certainly I wouldn’t do those things.” Yet I tell you that if the tables were turned you would more than likely be just as abusive because the problem is a human problem that knows no boundaries and we are all in the same sinking boat of sin.

    Have we not seen the ethnic cleansing that has happened in Africa between tribes where skin color is not the issue or the problems that exist between Jew and Arab who can trace both their origins back to Abraham? Who has not heard of the tensions that exist between Ireland and England or those that exist between France and Germany? There are others also in every part of the world where there is any difference in people to the extent that sometimes it comes down to local tensions between diverse groups.

    We often attempt to correct the problem but in a lot of cases it becomes a matter of smoothing over guilt rather than something that comes naturally from the heart. Several years ago I read about a study a group did of philanthropists and in their study they couldn’t find one philanthropist that didn’t give because of some ulterior motive. So, like them we often have hidden agendas that we are personally unaware of and because of that we tend to be in denial.

    I wish that I could say that I am part of the solution but I realize that more often than not I tend to be more of the problem. You see, I was born and raised in a very prejudiced family. My dad was a real Archie Bunker who looked down on everyone else. To him blacks, Jews, Italians, and just about everyone else was of lesser value. He didn’t like religious groups either, especially the Catholics.

    When you grow up in that kind of environment in a purely white neighborhood with a racist mindset it is a very difficult thing to shake later on in life even under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There is always a lingering of prejudice hidden in some corner of the heart. So, I am under no delusion about my state of affairs and perhaps that is a good thing. At least I know I have the problem. It seems to me that the ones who are in the greatest of danger are the ones that are unaware that they have the problem as well. It is the problem of the Pharisee and the tax collector in a parable that Jesus told (Lk 18:10-14) where the one who knew he was a sinner was the one that ended up justified rather than the one who thought of himself as perfect. It is the problem of being a real Laodicean who doesn’t know where he is (Rev 3:17) and that is where we are as a church both corporately and individually.

    • My brother Tyler, thanks for directing our minds to the heart of the problem - the problem of the heart. We are all affected and infected by the sin gene. The underlying issue of the symptoms of racial tensions is the root of all evil - self, self-centeredness, and selfishness.

      Structural adjustments and creative programs may address surface appearance. Yet it is only the influence and power of the Holy Spirit on the heart that deals with the core. Both the racist and the unmerciful are sinners in need of grace. When one focuses intensely on his/her victim status it is easy to become bitter towards the real or perceived oppressor and forget that the oppressor alike to the oppressed are common victims of the real enemy of souls.

      Sobriety ought to keep us from fighting contrived battles and wrestling with flesh and blood, which drain our spiritual energy and leave us depleted for the real warfare (Ephesians 6:12). How many of us feel spiritually renewed after marshaling our forces over the racial territory? Jesus cautioned against magnifying the fault in others to the effect of minimizing or ignoring one's own fault (Luke 6:41, 42).

      We ought to hesitate to cast loose aspersions or make unproven allegations against others, in spite of strong feeling or historical hurt. It is unwise to harbor suspicions and casual surmising when we can pray for the good of the suspect, who may or may not despise us (Matthew 5:44). Jesus did not get worked up about slights and disrespect directed at Him.

      Christians who expect to be persecuted and are anticipating a greater time of trouble shortly cannot afford to be thin-skinned (easily affected). If we are worn out by the footmen we better not get in the arena with the horses (Jeremiah 12:5). We must be thick-skinned (self-divested and without pride) and soft hearted to others.

      Race is an artificial and superficial basis of distinction which has been conveniently exploited by the enemy. It will have no meaningful place in Heaven. In any case none of us is a pure black or pure white or pure Hispanic or pure any such person grouping, except one blood since creation and one by the blood of Christ. One of the best ways to forge oneness is to blur the lines of segregation, not accentuate the distinctions. Every opportunity we get to minimize the importance of skin color should be siezed upon. This we will do if we think beyond our own likes, tastes, preferences, selves, and are ready to make ourselves uncomfortable so that others might be comfortable - selflessness.

      EGW to go:
      "Satan is rallying his forces to contend with the advancing work. He would bring reproach upon the work of God by setting brother against brother, and bringing in the elements of suspicion and evil surmising. I am bidden to say to our people, “Do not devise evil one against another. Do not cherish unbelief in your hearts. Do not harbor suspicion against your brethren and sisters.” This is one of the most successful ways in which Satan works to alienate the hearts of those who should be doing God’s service. Spend much time in earnest prayer for your individual selves. Talk and act as if in the presence of God...." (The Upward Look P. 114)

      • Hugh, to take what you say a bit further, when I took anthropology a couple of years ago we spent several class periods talking about the contrived concept of race. One of the things that was presented is that in studying DNA there seems to be a larger diversity within a racial group than between groups. As someone in the Loma Linda University Church usually says, “something to think about.”

  28. It wasn't until I moved from Calif. To Central Florida did I really see the segregation issues. After starting to attend my SDA church, I noticed there were no African Americans attending our church. It troubled me and I asked around why this is happening. Most answers were they want to be among their own race. I didn't care for that answer and went to the local black SDA which was only about a mile away to get the answer to my question from their members.
    I was told that it was not racism but they feel they can bring more of their race into our church by preaching to their own kind.

    • What did they mean by, "their own kind"? How many "kinds" of humans are there when in God's creation He calls all of us "man"?

  29. Hurford thanks for your probing questions. I was a nominal Christian as a child, didn't have a relationship with Jesus other than when God's unnamed Spirit spoke to me. I didn't really choose to join a mostly-Black church, I chose with my husband to answer a ministry call and it turned out to be for a church that was about 60 percent Black and is now about 80 percent Black. Transparently, while I've always loved my brothers and sisters here it took some time to feel a sense of sameness. My unconscious belief: "We're too different for real closeness." Praise God that has also changed. We're still different culturally but those differences no longer pose a barrier. For this I thank Jesus.

  30. I never understood the skin color issue. God doesn't care if you're white or negro or latino or eskimo. He sent Jesus to die for all. Apparently the Devil doesn't care either--he wants to kill and destroy everybody.

  31. I am black. When I attended one of our denominational universities, I would not attend the all-black church on the campus because the service was long and the music noisy. But I have also had the experience in Colorado of attending a white church and not being acknowledged when I tried to ask a question in the SS class. The teacher looked right through me each time. To say I felt like punching him in the mouth is an understatement. I still do not attend churches where the service is long and the music noisy. Sorry.

    • Shorey, please keep in mind that not all rudeness is race related. I am white and have been treated quite rudely by white people in the church too. Remember, Jesus was treated terribly by His own people, so it was not race related, but He forgave them all.

      • [Moderator's note: Please use your full name.]

        William, I'm not to sure you can say it was not racism. You weren't there. It was not your experience, it was his!

        • Fred,
          William may correct me if I err. However it seems he is saying racism only occurs between people of different races (by definition). The question of whether there was some other form of prejudice would be a separate issue. The main point seems to be let us not haste to conclusion. If we must rush it is better to hurry to forgive. Hopefully this helps.

  32. So true that bad treatment between Black and White can't be assumed to be because of the color difference. A young White woman at my church was rude to a Black lady who assumed it was race. I watched the whole interaction and explained that she had every right to be offended by the rudeness but that assuming it was race was assuming too much. The young woman actually was not a racist at all. Just rude. People have assumed me to be a racist and I find it very hurtful. I may not have the depth of compassion and understanding I should have, but I'm committed to it and open to Jesus giving it to me.

    • When you've been the victim of racism, it saves time and energy to assume it in similar interactions.
      It's not far-fetched based on history either. So people of colour do not have the luxury of ignoring racism as a possibility in negative interactions.

      People of colour are not paranoid or crazy as it can be implied sometimes.

      Anyway, you are correct in that this can breed a toxic cycle of distrust. It is entirely possible that the young lady was just rude and not necessarily racist.

  33. Hi Jennifer,
    We face such complicated and sensitive situations...I can hear your good intentions in explaining to a Black woman that an incident was not race-related and the White woman not a racist. Unfortunately, that is the type of reaction, however well-intentioned, that can lead to resentment and division. How can we attest to the thoughts/beliefs/motivation of another? Especially when they may be subconscious and/or unintentional? I empathize with your pain when accused of being a racist. But in all reality, who of us in our imperfect human form can have total confidence that we are free of any trace of racism, especially unintentional? It will be helpful if we can move beyond reassurance that racism was not involved, to the unifying and loving act of listening, validating, and apologizing, without dismissing the feelings of another.

  34. Kat, so true that we're all guilty. One principle I've found helpful is that we can judge behaviors but not motives. So the lady had a right to judge the rudeness but not the motive. To judge motives feels invasive and even manipulative. Possibly when trying to solve a crime or something similar it may be necessary to make intelligent guesses about motives. But in our relationships within the church, we're not dealing with criminals (for the most part!) but common sinners. In that context, judging motives does much more harm than good.

  35. I read this post twice. The title interested me because the same could be said of me, although under different circumstances.

    I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit. In the 1960's and 1970's, any race except white was effectively prohibited from buying or renting property there. A child could only attend Grosse Pointe public schools if they lived in Grosse Pointe and taxes were sky high for the wonderful school system.
    My parents and many others in Grosse Pointe were prejudice against the Polish who lived on the other side of town, blacks and who knows who else. My mother is Polish, so figure that one out! After my parents went to Poland, my father was no longer prejudiced against the Polish.

    We had Doris, a black cleaning woman from Detroit, who rode the bus to our house once a week. Most of us in the family loved Doris and treated her like family. I didn't see her as "Black." I worked along side of her and did laundry for 10 people and other chores even though I was not asked to do these things.

    We had Rufus and Willie working in the shipping department of my dad's furniture business in downtown Detroit. They were family too. Some of my brothers worked at the store too, and they were friends with Rufus and Willie. I know they even smoked pot with Willie. I loved it when they called me "Miss Jane." As a teenager, my first public job was at Dad's business and I worked with Rufus and Willie. We also had Dale working there and he was from England.

    Growing up in Grosse Pointe, we listened to Motown music my mom would put on the radio for us. We shopped in downtown Detroit at a time when the city was safe. My grandmother took me out to eat at fancy restaurants and the theatre and cultural events in downtown Detroit. It was a regular part of life.

    We have a mixed church now, and it seems that, in general, more blacks than whites like church. My best friend in this area and in church, for almost 15 years, is black. I don't see her as black or anyone else in the church. Sometimes when Marilyn is at my house and I look at myself in the mirror, it is me who seems pale face. Marilyn works right alongside us and we talk about things and love each other just like Doris, Rufus and Willie all were part of our family when I grew up.

    I notice that my granddaughter is quite open about people and doesn't see color either because when Marilyn is over our house, she loves Marilyn just like we do.

    When I was young, I could have thought like my parents and others in the Grosse Pointe community. However, I was always different.

    Grosse Pointe now "allows" people of different ethnic origins to live in the vicinity. If you have ever seen Grand Torino, there are scenes shot in Detroit and at the end, it show Clint driving along beautiful Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe, MI.

    • I think what some people of colour would say is that they don't want people to ignore colour but to appreciate it as part of a whole; put into proper perspective and to judge everyone as worth as much as themselves.
      Colour, or lack of it, in any hue makes people beautiful as does hair of any texture.
      Character makes us the most beautiful of all.

  36. From Jennifer--"So the lady had a right to judge the rudeness but not the motive...In that context, judging motives does much more harm than good."

    Again, I think you have the best of intentions and applaud your desire for love and tolerance. You have presented an interesting conundrum. I am confused why the lady did not have a right to judge the motive of a person who was rude to her. I'm uncomfortable with denying another human being the right to assess behavior directed toward them, whether the conclusion is correct or incorrect. Instead of telling someone they don't have the right to their own perspective, I am suggesting that it is more healing to provide a safe place to process that perspective, without judging the rightness or wrongness of it. Acknowledge how painful or uncomfortable the event must have been when seen through that perspective. Empathize with the negative feelings. The exploration of competing perspectives may then occur naturally. Maybe not. Either way, you have taken a positive step that was accepting and empowering rather than alienating. I would like to suggest that the person to talk to would be the rude young woman. She has it in her power to demonstrate in future interactions that she is not racist and was not racially motivated. What a great learning opportunity this could be for her, and an example for others.

  37. Jennifer, I love the picture you painted at the end of your article-- “As the excellencies of each and every race of mankind flood the New Jerusalem, it will become an invigorating celebration of diversity.” It is awesome to contemplate this future grand experience while enjoying a preview here on earth. Until my college years, I also grew up in an almost all-white world, with limited (although positive) interactions with people of color, and I can relate to much of your experience.
    Reading through the responses, it looks like everyone posting agrees that the shift to celebrating diversity is a sign of positive growth. People of all skin tones are now free to attend any SDA church they choose, for whatever reason they choose. I have even noticed some crossover in worship styles, with many White churches singing some of the more traditional gospel hymns and Black churches using praise teams and contemporary songs. Surely the blood of Jesus and the blessing of the Holy Spirit are at work in our modern times, and I am grateful to be alive to see the transformation. Still I am confused, and hope somebody can help me understand. I have visited a lot of churches across the U.S. and spoken with quite a few people who would appreciate information that would build on the progress already made, by providing some sort of training to congregations who want to encourage diversity in their attendance. Maybe some kind of mobile group that would be available to travel to interested churches, giving brief, fun, and practical presentations. The trainings I have attended have been interactive and enjoyable. Does anyone have ideas of how we can encourage people to step up and ask for something similar, but tweaked for SDA churches, that can help us to more efficiently carry out the gospel commission for these times? Do you think money might be the obstacle?
    I am a White woman with an idea…maybe it sounds more like an agenda, but then
    God had an agenda--that’s why His son died on the cross. Jesus had an agenda---to save a soul like you and me. It’s okay to have an agenda if we maintain respect for the thoughts and beliefs of others. My agenda is to make it to that invigorating heavenly celebration and to bring as many of my diverse family, friends, and acquaintances as possible along with me.
    Apparently Sister EGW felt similarly:
    “Men may have both hereditary and cultivated prejudices, but when the love of Jesus fills the heart, and they become one with Christ, they will have the same spirit that He had.”—Manuscript 6, 1891. Published in The Southern Work, 9-14, 1966 ed.


    • Kathleen, it s going to happen, Praise God! It may happen on the grassroots level. Or God may use the time of trouble. You have a good idea about exchanges in which people from different ethnic groups share and blend diversity to create relationships. It is happening quietly in this country. Why don't you start it. There are many out there who are willing to join it. It could become a wonderful way of preaching the Three Angels' Message. We would be living the gospel.

  38. Jane thanks for the little window into your childhood. Kids just don't have the prejudices adults have, do they? Your community growing up was similar to mine. They found ways of keeping the Black people out. It's not as great as they think it is--it would be difficult for me to go back to ethnic homogeneity. Life is much more interesting today.

  39. Kathleen, love the quote! We were discussing this morning how the genetic variation within an ethnicity is greater than genetic variation between ethnicities. We all came from the same parents and when we over-emphasize the differences we issue a subtle repudiation of the truth of Genesis 1-3. With you, I believe God is moving us back together.

  40. Kathleen I did talk to her about the rudeness. She took responsibility for it. And when I mentioned to the lady who accused her that I thought she was right to question the rudeness but really didn't, couldn't know the motive, she agreed. Everything worked out fine. In fact the latter is about to be baptized.

  41. I am an African American who grew up in Austin, Texas. I have been in the United States Air Force for 23 years and I am an Adventist. Austin is a very diverse city. My comfort with diversity easily translated into my Air Force career. My military travels have allowed me visit and attend many different churches.

    While beginning a tour in Bossier City, LA I visited the First Shreveport S.D.A Church. They had a lovely building and great Sabbath School classrooms. I noticed that this church was made of mostly elderly Caucasian folks. They were extremely quiet in their worship style, rarely said “Amen” during the sermon, and we got out so early I was shocked. They did not clap their hands during the music as traditional black churches do. I knew this would probably not be the church for me.

    However, something amazing happened. After the service the pastor came to me and shook my hand, but he would not let it go. He just held my hand and asked what seemed like a million questions. But in sixty seconds he learned that I was in the Air Force, that I was new to the area, looking for a church home, raised an Adventist, sang Alto in church choirs, and frequently told the children’s story during worship service at my home church back in Austin. The pastor then invited me back to church next Sabbath and invited me to tell the children’s story during the service.

    After that Sabbath I was hooked to that church for the next 14 years. I fell in love with them and they fell in love with me. Though our worship styles could not be more different, I never ceased being me. I would say “Amen” out loud during the sermon and clapped my hands if I wanted to. I don’t know if it disturbed them, but I had to worship the way the Spirit led me to. I believe this is the only challenge the Adventist church really may struggle with – style of worship. Hopefully we can strive to meet somewhere in the middle before Jesus comes. Thank you for your thought provoking article. I really enjoyed it.

  42. One of the problems we have with an issue like racism is that we sometimes become so focused on it we fail to see other discrimination taking place as well. I could mention that we have gender, generational, educational background, and socio-economic discrimination also. We humans are good at making people who are different to us feel unwelcome.

    How many times have I seen older generations make young people feel that they are not "one of us". I recently had the tables turned and was made to feel out-of-place in my predominantly young-people's church. The event of being on the receiving end made me reflect on the way we respond to that sort of challenge. Nursing the hurt does not work. It is our responsibility to build bridges and break down barriers. I am working on that, one person at a time and I do not expect to win everyone.

  43. I'm an English-born Namibian (former South West Africa). I grew up before the apartheid system was implemented. However, all the SA government did was give a name to a system already in place for hundreds of years. Thanks to missionaries the 'blacks' were converted and became more true Christians than their white counterparts. Apartheid is history but unfortunately many of the progeny of that era still cling to the past. It's hard to change unless you truly KNOW the Lord we all serve. In the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek, I have lost count of the number of churches and companies in our city. The reason being that due to the great number of people who live in the 'townships' without personal transport, the churches have taken the gospel to the people - forming groups, companies and ultimately churches (not always with a building and under two pastors!). It is with great sadness that I have to see the first small SDA church building in Windhoek with more empty seats on a Sabbath morning than any other time in it's 40+ history. Why should this be when we claim that 'everyone' is welcome. The truth hurts! We have put up a language barrier which even keeps out our 'white' members who do not understand the Afrikaans language. I have been a member of this congregations since the day it was built and dedicated and it breaks my heart to see the decline. "If we had a full-time pastor the church would grow" is a litany heard all to often. Namibia cannot afford such a luxury. I love attending our 'black' churches because of the spirit present (although I must admit that the constant movement of latecomers is very distracting - and if you leave your seat for any reason you will probably have to find a new one when your return!) The acapella music is something to be experienced! You are made to feel welcome and an honorary guest. I think I've just talked myself into attending one of our sister churches next Sabbath - to recharge my spiritual batteries.

  44. Maurice, I love what you said, start to finish. Sooooo true. Human nature always lapses into trying to be "better than" someone else, and using the flimsiest of bases for it. But your proactive approach, even when bearing the brunt of the "better than" problem, is inspiring.

  45. Two summers ago, two girls came to visit their aunts in Spokane. Our niece was white, the other niece was black. The two girls were best friends back home. Our niece asked if we could attend the multicultural/black church so she could be with her friend. We readily agreed. While there, the other niece invited ours to a swim party at a local pool. We asked about details such as transportation, etc. the other niece told us that if we dropped her off they would bring her home.

    When we showed up at the pool on the day of the party, the other aunt was there with several other children, all black. She informed us that she was not going to be responsible for any white child at the pool. Since we assumed the adults would be supervising all children at the party, this surprised us. We talked with our niece and asked if she still wanted to go. She was a little frightened by what the lady had said, but for the sake of her friend, she decided to stay. When the party was over, we received a call asking when we were going to pick up our niece. I stated we would be happy to do so, only we had been told she would be brought home and that was why we were not there. The lady exploded, and we received another lecture about how she is not responsible for a white girl. Because they were fellow Seventh-day Adventists we had trusted their word. I offered again to pick up our niece. The other aunt stated that no they would bring her to us.

    After that, the two girls drifted apart, both afraid to have anything to do with one another even after they returned home to their parents. I regret that our niece had to learn about racism in such a direct manner and at such a tender age, but my main concern here is that if we continue to pass on such racism, whether white, black or other, how do we ever expect to live in harmony with one another? I know whites that have been just as cruel. When are we going to break the cycle of racism which is nothing more than hatred with the excuse of ethnicity?

  46. As a church we have not adequately dealt with issues of racism. There are black Adventists who can painfully recall being denied entrance into typically all white Adventist colleges. ( Often there were only a limited amount of slots for minorities, if admitted at all) I personally recall sitting in my communications class at Pacific Union College (1979) as my white instructor lectured on what he felt were the similarities between the words, "nigger" and "WASP". Incidents such as these have created distrust amongst a people who have long claimed to all be part of the same body of Christ. It is time for an open discussion on the topic of race in the church - not just a list of actions that have been taken to right the obvious wrongs, but an open dialogue on how the church's worldly stance on the topic have impacted the policies and practices of Adventists and the culture of many of our church organizations. This blog, hopefully has opened the door.

  47. After all that's been written, shared and revealed about our problem with race/ethnicity/culture, what are we as individuals actually willing to do about it? We could go on for years about the injustice and how wrong we are. What do we actually begin to do to make changes with God's help?

  48. Jennifer,

    Wow I appreciate your honesty about your "all white kingdom". I'm mixed, white, black and mexican and was never accepted by my extended family or neighbors. Today people seem to act as if everything is "all good" and like racism doesn't exist and somehow by not acknowledging it, it isn't there. I can appreciate your candid conversation. Our experiences are something we shouldn't hide but face as matter of fact. I think about slavery, American history and God often these days. It was okay for kings, ex. Solomon, to force labor on other races than Israelites on their territory. But to beat and not pay a man his worth in labor is wrong. It happened so often in America then segregation to today (Trevon Martian). I go to an all black SDA church on the east side of Detroit cause there is none in my mostly white suburb where I live. They have warned me about the segregated camp meetings. Makes me laugh. Anyway. Thank you for that beautifully written story.

  49. Maureen, thanks for your story. So you're saying the White churches are dying out while the Black churches are thriving? Similar situation here. Last night someone facetiously asked, "Are there any white SDAs on the East coast?"

  50. Jennifer, I enjoyed your article. I think I remember you from the old Country Life days back in the late 70s. This is always a topic that generates a lot of feedback. Unfortunately, unless this same topic is being discussed by those at the tables that set policy and direction, it's going to be a long time in coming before we see any significant changes. In my neck of the woods, our two conferences, South Atlantic Regional and Georgia Cumberland, have announced initiatives over the years to move in the direction of breaking down the walls that separate us. The evidence seems to indicate that we might need a different approach. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Curtis, I was at the Georgia Cumberland camp meeting last May, and was very pleased to hear the president for the regional conference speak, upon invitation from the Cumberland conference. I was also pleased to hear him speak of hiring white pastors in the regional conference while the Cumberland conference hires blacks. Here in Florida we have combined pastors meetings with both conferences. I have also preached in and am currently doing some Bible worker training in one of our local black churches. I am so glad we are teaming up with the black and white congregations these days. When you do so you double your number of friends!

  51. The Adventist Review has a feature on "Racism and Health in North America."

    I'm glad we're talking about the issue. It's better than sweeping it under the rug.

    And while we're talking about it, let's focus on the here and now and what we can do to make things better. Focusing on the wrongs of the past doesn't create a better present.

    Appreciate your comments, Curtis and William, on the integration efforts in your conference. 🙂

    • I just now took time to view this 21-minute video of an interview of epidemiologist David R. Williams, Professor of Public Health at Harvard School of Public Health, by Canadian Piya Chattopadhyay of The Agenda on Ontario Public Television.

      I really recommend that particularly our white readers view this video. The statistics are nothing short of shocking, but the real value comes near the end of the video. Dr Williams makes clear that we all have unconscious biases due to negative stereotypes - whether they be of black people, gay people, fat people or old people. In this case, these unconscious, unchosen attitudes affect the level of health care provided to groups by health care providers.

      Translated into our inter-personal relationships, it means that we all have certain negative stereotypes that determine the way we relate to people. For instance, I remember car-pooling with several teachers in Michigan back in the 1960's. We taught in a school near Benton Harbor, which was a predominantly black city. So the race issue was very much alive in the area. In my mind I can still hear the exact intonation of one of my female colleagues proclaiming, "I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body!!" I was so shocked, because it was evident that she truly believed it. But her usual conversation betrayed that she was very heavily prejudiced against black people. (I was glad she wasn't looking at me to see my open-mouthed incredulity!) It was very funny, really, but very sad. It made me realize that we all have prejudices of which we are unaware, and I might have had the same prejudices if I had grown up in the same society. And the most prejudiced people are the ones who absolutely know they are not prejudiced! Thus it is best for each of us to recognize, "I am prejudiced!"

      The question is, What am I going to do about it?

      Let's remember that prejudice works both ways. A victim mentality will never solve the race issue. Only by making a genuine effort to see each other as unique children of God will we be able to understand and love each other.

      Another thing I took away from this video is that it is absolutely imperative that we do all in our power to work towards full integration - even if we (black or white) are more comfortable in our present situation. Segregation is the basis for negative differential treatment, and thus it should be eliminated in all possible venues, including our churches.


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