The North American Division has planned a Facebook Live town hall meeting to engage college-age Adventists. NAD President Daniel Jackson and Executive Secretary G. Alexander Bryant will answer audience questions in an conversation they have said will be “undiluted, transparent.” The Tuesday, March 14 event, called “Is This Thing On?” will be livestreamed from the campus of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the first in a series of broadcasts planned for various Adventist universities.
Young adults are notorious for their movement away from organized religion, a trend that has worried leaders of the Adventist Church in North America. Accordingly, the denomination has sought ways of involving young Adventists. At its Year-end Meetings, for instance, the student body presidents of North American Division colleges and universities are invited to participate as delegates with voice and vote. President Jackson intentionally sought input from those student delegates during important business sessions.
The move to hold live, unscripted conversations with young adults has a precedent in the presidency of former General Conference President Jan Paulsen. During his years as president, Paulsen participated in over thirty “Let’s Talk” conversations with young adults from around the world. The one-hour meetings, broadcast on the church’s television network, covered topics ranging from racism to homosexuality and from jewelry use to women’s roles in the church. After his retirement, Paulsen compiled material from the conversations in his 2013 book, “Let’s Talk.”
Dan Jackson and Alex Bryant pay homage to Paulsen’s work in their event’s tagline: “Making sure we can hear each other. Let’s talk.”
The event “aims to connect young people with church leadership and get the concerns of the 21st century heard and answered,” according to the event website. Jackson and Bryant say they will invite “any and all questions about the Bible, church policy, Adventist lifestyle, theology, relationships, and more.”
The NAD has taken advantage of a changing media landscape since Paulsen’s conversations. Young adults are invited to send in their questions using #NADnow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The broadcast will be streamed from 8-9:30 p.m. CDT on Facebook Live. Recording will take place in the atrium of Union College’s Don Love Building.
The NAD institution in Canada, Burman University, led in submitting questions, compiling a list of ten questions to submit in writing, and in a video to NAD leadership, winnowing the list to their three top questions:
1. Are there any actions being taken by the North American Division regarding Women's Ordination? If yes, what? If no, why not?
2. What is the North American Division doing to respond to the issue of abusive/inept/incompetent church leaders (at all levels) being shuffled throughout the church system?
3. What is the North American Division doing to make Adventist education (at all levels) more appealing, cutting edge, and affordable?
In addition to those three, Burman students also asked questions likely to be echoed by other young Adventists:
What are the obstacles that remain, and what is the North American Division doing, to eliminate Regional Conferences?
What steps will the North American Division take to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community with regard to church membership and employment?
How is the Adventist Church working to teach its health message in a more holistic way, using the most current scientific evidence? Specifically, when and how will the Adventist Church drop its stigma toward those who use caffeinated drinks?
What is the North American Division doing to respond to the refugee crisis?
First Nations peoples have specific challenges (e.g., poverty, insufficient housing, violence, suicide, unemployment, drug/alcohol abuse, poor literacy). How is the North American Division responding to these challenges?
When and how will the North American Division respond to current events as they occur (in the world or the church) rather than addressing them once they have already passed or been dealt with?
What is the recommended policy of the North American Division for its schools, concerning the rights/privileges of transgender students? How will the NAD treat the rights of transgender students?
Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for Spectrummagazine.org.
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