March 16, 2011

1507 Web Letters

Your Wish, Our Command
I commend you for recognizing the accomplishments of African-Americans in the online series for Black History Month titled, “Claiming the Promise.”
It might be nice to feature an article about Terrence Roberts, an African-American Seventh-day Adventist and one of the “Little Rock Nine.” Roberts was once a member of the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, and was my Sabbath School teacher. He was also a professor at Pacific Union College at one time.
Since this year celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, and Roberts was honored at the White House, it would be nice to share his story with your readers.
Thank you for the wonderful articles and for the variety of topics presented. This publication has certainly improved over the past few years and has become a valuable source of information for Adventists and non-Adventists alike.
Brenda Darcel Harris
Elk Grove, California
Thank you for your letter. By now you certainly know that a cover story about Terrance Roberts appeared in the February 21 issue of the Adventist Review. Based on an interview with Roberts by associate editor Roy Adams, “Nine Children Face an Angry Town” tells of Roberts’ role in this historic event.—Editors

What’s Taking So Long?
Regarding Fredrick Russell’s column, “The Obama Message” (Feb. 21, 2008): Amen and amen! Why should the church I love be so slow in eliminating a racially defined organizational structure? Having spent most of my adult life in mission service in Africa and Papua New Guinea, I have a high level of respect for diversity of cultures, and I puzzle over the organizational walls we have sometimes erected within our church.
In the five years I pastored in Kansas I discovered how high those walls could become. While most of the members I pastored were White, there were also several Black families--wonderful people who were active members of our church. Occasionally I received notices from the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of activities of special interest. But in five years, not once did I get notice of special activities sponsored by the regional conference or any of its churches. Furthermore, when our conference had ministers’ meetings, we never had the opportunity to interact and develop friendships with pastors of the Black churches; they weren’t invited because they belonged to the regional conference. We didn’t even have opportunity to attend camp meeting with them; they had their camp meeting and we had ours!
Having spent many years in mission work in Zambia and Zimbabwe, I felt this artificial barrier to mutual understanding was a limiting factor in my ministry to my local church district; how could I meaningfully address issues of special significance to Black members when I had no occasion to interact with Black pastors and conference leaders?
A few years later, while an academic administrator at Solusi University in Zimbabwe, we hosted a delegation from several North American Division regional conferences. Over lunch some of them loudly decried the fact that Adventist churches in Zimbabwe were, at that time, divided into several geographically divided Black conferences and one union-wide conference of White and “Colored” (i.e., mixed race) members. I agreed with our visitors that it was time for a structural change in Zimbabwe. But when I described my experience in Kansas and asked them why we still had racially defined conferences in North America, some of them tried to explain why the two situations were totally unrelated. I never did understand the subtleties of the distinctions our guests tried to make. From my perspective both situations seemed to be racially driven and needed to be corrected.
There is strength in unity. Christ calls for unity. I believe the majority of our members desire unity.
Thank you, Fredrick Russell, for articulating so well what many church members have been thinking for years. In a year when all the presidential candidates are calling for political change, isn’t it time for us to consider some structural changes of our own?
Harold Peters
Fredrick Russell may have a point regarding our denomination maintaining a clear racial divide--having separate Black conferences, and that our denomination still has a long way to go in showing the world we are truly a church for all peoples.
However, the means he used is open to criticism. Short of directly endorsing the candidacy of the Democratic presidential aspirant, Senator Barack Obama, he may alienate the other candidates’ followers, which we do not want to happen, but may already be happening.
Articles that have a political shade should not appear in our publications. Our church should be above secular political matters, especially at this time. Readers could say that the writer of this column regarding the “message” of Obama is apparently biased, not color-blind, which is precisely why said article should have not been published on the Internet under the flag of the Adventist Review. This may be a blow to our concerns for religious liberty if it appeard we are taking sides in the current political campaign.
Manuel N. Fauni
Murrieta, California
Fredrick Russell’s evaluation is certainly upbeat, and I applaud his recognition of those who have attempted to transcend racial issues. However, it seems that he is driving at politically correct attitudes one finds everywhere, particularly in Washington D. C.
I, for one, do not have a problem with Black churches, White churches, Vietnamese churches, etc. Aren’t we a worldwide church? Are we going to stop speaking of the church in Russia, Finland, Uganda, Brazil, etc., and make believe they are only Seventh-day Adventist churches? Are we going to start promoting one worldwide division/union/conference? I don’t think so.
During one particularly trying period in my life I could not comfortably attend the “White” church in town and chose to attend the “Black” church. What a blessing it was! That church cared for its wounded, rather than shooting them (as several members suggested to me)! I probably can’t lay claim to having much sanity in those days, but whatever measure I preserved was maintained by those dear friends.
Having said that, I don’t think I would enjoy an indefinite stay in the church I found there. There were a lot of cultural differences that just didn’t fit me—and vice versa—for the long term. But it certainly was a blessing for the period of time I attended that church. I am grateful for their love and grace, and I loved them in return.
I have attended a number of “White” churches I didn’t particularly enjoy. Bottom line: we all should attend where we feel most comfortable. I can’t see that such an idea makes one a racist.
Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love for one another. We can love one another whether we are members of the same congregation, different congregations, different conferences, or different countries. Our love will speak to the public; not some contrived show of unity and the disappearance of what many consider to be politically incorrect.
We should be proud of our heritage, not ashamed of it. We should worship where we feel most comfortable and find the worship experience most meaningful. We should not rest until we have “prayed down” the love of God to where we love all people—even the “unlovable.” Then we will be known as His disciples.
Terence Futcher
Harlingen, Texas
A Seventh-day Adventist periodical should not have any bias toward any political affiliation. Even though the message of “The Obama Message” was that African-Americans have come a long way toward racial equality, it could lead an individual to believe that presidential candidate Barak Obama is being endorsed.
Elmerissa Sheets

The Lord Will Provide
The article about dating, “Christian Dating: Harnessing Fire, Honoring God” (Feb. 14, 2008), is most appreciated.
We live in an age where men and women are ruled by their passions and not by the beautiful minds that marked them as the crowning act of God’s creation. We young people have to be reminded every so often that the Lord is indeed Jehovah-jireh (“The Lord will provide,” Gen. 22:14). He is the one who provides; and His laws serve to protect us, not harm us.
Lerato Mompati

I’ll Have Some of That
As I read the editorial, “A Mind-changing Menu” by Carlos Medley (Feb. 14, 2008), I wasn’t sure where he was taking this illustration.
By the end of the piece I was pleasantly surprised to find Medley using the figure of the restaurant consultant to represent how Jesus Christ wants us to follow His menus, purchase His fresh ingredients, use His recipes, accept His redecorating, adopt His invigorating attitude, and keep the place clean according to His standards.
Connie Dahlke
Walla Walla, Washington

Well, Is It?
The article, “Is the Church Flat?” (Dec. 27, 2007), was interesting. But even more interesting were the letters to the editor addressing the “problem.”
It’s easy to blame “leadership” and agitate for change. But a church is not going to change from the top down, it will only change from the bottom up. Those of us on the front lines at the local church level are the ones responsible for the church. It seems as though everyone wants a pastor or “leader” who gets paid to change things. But that’s not going to happen until lay members step up to the plate and take responsibility for the church. If each member of every church made a commitment to God to let Him live in their lives, fill them with His Spirit, and be willing to work and touch those around them, the gospel would go to every person in this world in no time flat. The church wouldn’t need to be flat--or any other shape--because it would be universal and we could go home to heaven.
Instead, we’d rather blame leaders for their lack of vision because it lets us off the hook. We can sit around and bemoan the fact that the church needs to change its methods to reach other cultures and generations, when all the time we can each reach those other cultures and generations. When Jesus comes He isn’t going to ask, “What did your church do?” Rather He’s going to ask, “What did you do?”
Church organization doesn’t need to be flat; it needs people who are transparent.
Judy Mackie
Buffalo, Wyoming

And That’s Important Because . . .
I’m writing in reference to the news article, “Spence Tapped as CUC President (Dec. 20, 2007):
The second paragraph is a single sentence: “Spence is Columbia Union College’s first Black president.” That sentence is absolutely unnecessary! Let us find that out when we look at his picture, if we have to know.
Are we Adventists still classifying people by color, gender, etc.? I hope not.
Iris Donaldson
Forest Grove, Oregon

Preventative Measures Needed
I read the article, “Abuse in the Adventist Church?” by René Drumm, et al. (Oct. 11, 2007). I’m thankful the church is finally realizing that abuse occurs among Adventists and is destroying families simply because the church has taken so long to address it.
Abuse destroyed my home. Even though my husband was an Adventist pastor, he refused to admit anything was wrong with him; the problems in our marriage were because of me. He refused to get counseling to save our marriage. When my pastor husband took me to court to get custody of our child, his pastoral colleagues came to support him. We ended up getting a divorce, and the judge gave me custody of our child.
I’ve often wondered how our lives could have been different if the Adventist church had taken a stand about this problem and offered help for families in trouble. I hope articles such as this will notify everyone that abuse will not be tolerated in this church. It damages a lot of people and brings shame and disgrace to God’s name.
A Survivor of Domestic Violence