June 9, 2020

Silence is NOT an Option

On June 2, Terry Shaw, president and CEO of AdventHealth, the largest Seventh-day Adventist Health network in the United States, sent the following statement to 65,000 employees of the medical system who work in dozens of hospitals and hundreds of locales in nine U.S. states—Editors

Dear AdventHealth Team Member,

In recent days, our nation and the world witnessed a public servant, whose sworn duty was to protect and serve, steal the life of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd, whose chilling last words, “I can’t breathe," are written on protest signs across the country and world, joins an ever-growing list reminding us that racism and injustice represent a clear and present danger for African Americans.

There is unimaginable hurt in our black communities given the long history of such senseless deaths, including the recent killings of Mr. Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

We cannot remain bystanders. While there is breath in us, silence is not an option.

Our sacred calling to deliver wholeness and care for those who are wounded and hurting is guided by our mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ. As a faith-based health care provider, we have a responsibility for the health and well-being of the communities around us.

AdventHealth’s diverse team members each bring their unique talents and experiences to their roles every day. These team members also bring with them the sum total of their experience with racism and discrimination resulting in traumatic anxiety and pain. Our team is like a body, with no unimportant parts. When one area hurts, the whole body is affected. The same can be said of our nation as a whole.

We know that our communities look to us for guidance and direction on matters of health and well-being. At AdventHealth, caring for others starts with our service standards: Keep Me Safe, Love Me, Make it Easy and Own it.

These standards create a framework for the actions we take at our hundreds of care sites, and also suggest our response to this deep-seated issue. To deliver compassionate, Christ-like care, we must preserve and advocate for the safety of others. We must love beyond borders, skin colors and cultural barriers. We must own it and think carefully about what role we can play in bringing about change.

Finding a solution, then, starts with each of us and our leadership.

We must be humble enough to learn how to best equip our organization, and change our behavior, in order to meet needs. This morning, we started our Executive Roundtable meeting, a gathering of AdventHealth’s most senior executives from across the company, listening to some of our organization’s African American leaders.

While we know that each person has a unique and individual experience, we want our leaders who have a personal experience with historic racial issues, including recent events, to be able to share those insights with the group so that those whose experiences may differ can be informed by them.

Following this meeting, we are asking each senior leader in our organization to seek out and listen to the personal experiences and insights of their African American colleagues. We will listen with an open mind, heart and will, and then, we will move forward with a renewed commitment to live the Love Me service standard among our team members, our communities and our nation.

I would also like to encourage each of you to do the same. Find someone with a different background and experience than your own and make the time to listen and learn from their experience.

Our mission and the Scriptures compel us to take action.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6 NIV)

It is no longer good enough to personally acknowledge that we are not racist. We must become anti-racist advocates. Let us loose the chains of injustice, together.

In His Service,

Terry D. Shaw

AdventHealth President and CEO

Click here to see the  original document.