Organizers of the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN) annual conference, an event that draws hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist physicians, dentists, eye doctors, and other mission-minded professionals, released a position statement ahead of this year’s conference, which will be held in Indian Wells, California, United States.
The release, sent by the AMEN leadership team to those who have registered for the October 28-31 event, urges attendees to focus on mission and move beyond vaccine discussions, while following health officers’ guidelines.
The statement acknowledges that “the issue of COVID-19 vaccination has raised significant controversy both within and outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and this controversy has diverted the attention of many from the mission of God’s last-day people to reach a perishing world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Against that background, AMEN leaders emphasized they firmly believe in the Seventh-day Adventist health message. “We strongly encourage everyone to build a strong immune system through rest, exercise, fresh air, eating healthfully, and the appropriate use of hydrotherapy,” they wrote.
At the same time, they reminded participants that “vaccination is considered by many to be a responsible addition to these principles of health.” Thus, they said, “we encourage everyone to thoroughly examine the available evidence for themselves and prayerfully decide how they will manage the health of God’s temple — their body. This management includes the decision of whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate against COVID-19.”
According to AMEN leaders, “the decision for or against vaccination is a matter of personal choice that should be respected.” At the same time, they emphasized, “a spirit of Christ-like love must undergird our interactions with one another regardless of one’s stance on vaccination or any other issue.” And, they added, “irrespective of which position we hold on matters of debate, when we lose our unity as a church and develop hostility towards brothers and sisters in Christ, the devil wins.”
AMEN leaders also acknowledged that “the controversy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines has greatly detracted from the real work that we are called to do, which is to seek and save the lost.” Against that reality, and to preserve a spirit of unity and focus the participants’ attention on what matters most, AMEN leaders requested that during the event, “all speakers and attendees turn conversations away from the issue of vaccination to the gospel commission and our call to medical ministry.” They explained that, rather than serving as a forum for debate, “the AMEN conference seeks to unify all health-care professionals under the common banner of engaging in medical ministry work during these end times.”
AMEN is an organization of mission-minded health-care professionals whose mission is to “motivate, train, and equip Seventh-day Adventist physicians, dentists, and other health-care professionals to team with pastors and members, uniting the church to restore Christ’s ministry of healing to the world, hastening His return.” AMEN supports and sponsors various mission projects around the world, including free clinics in the U.S. and elsewhere.
According to the organization's website, the annual conference seeks to promote medical evangelism through inspirational messages, seminars, and workshops to examine and apply prophetic principles and guidelines. It also includes testimonials, as well as networking and mission opportunities. The 2021 edition will follow the theme “While It Is Day,” based on Jesus’ words in John 9:4 in the Bible.
For its 2021 annual conference, AMEN encourages attendees to adhere to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for organizing large events and gatherings. Event organizers are also encouraging those who registered to attend the conference in person to wear a mask during indoor events.
The AMEN position statement was released on the same day the Seventh-day Adventist Church shared a release reaffirming the denomination’s response to COVID-19. The Adventist Church document, which includes input from the Biblical Research Institute, Adventist Health Ministries, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference Office of General Counsel, and Loma Linda University Health, makes the church position explicit, including advice on how to stay healthy during the lingering pandemic. The release includes supporting documents and resources and is in line with what the Adventist Church has already stated on the topic.