August 16, 2017

Adventist Church in North America responds to hate, violence in Charlottesville, Virginia

North American Division

Tragedy struck the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017, when demonstrators at a white nationalist rally, after a day of protests and clashes, were hit by the car of an Ohio man whom authorities claim held radical views. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed; according to news reports, nine pedestrians were injured in the crash with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening.

The local Adventist churches are working together to help with the healing process. The Allegheny West church in Charlottesville, Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church and members of the Potomac Conference’s Charlottesville church have banded together in prayer.

Daniel R. Jackson and G. Alexander Bryant, the president and executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, issued the following joint statement on August 14, 2017:

“We are deeply disturbed by the violence and hate that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Heather Heyer, who was standing up against bigotry and hate when her life was senselessly cut short. We pray for Heather’s family, the community of Charlottesville, and all of those who were injured by the attack on those who rose up in solidarity against evil. As Christians and followers of Jesus we stand with Him against the white supremacist groups that spread racism and violence. We pray for the day when all of God’s children, of all races, treat each other with love and respect rather than bias and hate.”

Below is the response Daniel Xisto, the pastor of the Charlottesville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Virginia, shared on Facebook in a commentary titled “I’m Not OK.”

Xisto started by addressing the numerous messages he had received from concerned friends who knew he and his family were in Charlottesville. He responded by writing “in all honesty, I’m not OK,” and listing reasons why in several statements.

[Click here to read the full version.]

His first statement: “I’m not OK because white supremacy, white nationalists, neo-nazis, KKK members, and other domestic terrorist groups thought they could come in to my town and cause my friends to fear.” Xisto continued, writing that he wasn’t OK because a young woman and two police officers died as a result of “alt-right, fragile-ego foolishness.”

The commentary, which initially was a blog post that Xisto decided to share on Facebook, ended with declarations that Xisto is going to be “alright.”

He writes, “I’m going to be alright because I have so many friends and family who have been checking up on me. I’m going to be alright because Scripture foretells that the days of the hate groups who came into town this weekend are numbered. … I’m going to be alright because our church will continue to gather, sing, pray, read, and respond. … I’m going to be alright because one day soon, we will live in freedom together, in the garden of the Lord.”