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Phillip Warfield - Historian

The Problem with Adventist Heritage: Re-Discovering Our True Selves

We are constantly bombarded with verbiage urging us to recall who we are. Some of us remember the emphatic words of Queen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett in Black Panther (2018): “Remember who you are!”  This theme is often repeated in African American literature. African-American self discovery shines in Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of…

Try Again!

Any Christian church that is unwilling to actually do something about the scourge of gun violence in our country should strongly consider whether they hold any real value in our society.

Forum Events - February 24

Two Adventist Forum Events This Sabbath: Did God Create Viruses? and Can a Church Be a Secular Mission? 

The Michiana Adventist Forum and Andrews University Department of Biology invite you to join us Saturday, February 24, 2024, 3:30 P.M. for a presentation by James L. Hayward titled “Did God Create Viruses?” Hayward is professor emeritus of Biology at Andrews University. The event takes place at Chan Shun Hall on the Andrews University campus.…

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The Current

The Current provides a quick survey of news and media relevant to the Adventist conversation. It displays the latest three posts on the homepage. Click “The Current” to scroll through everything on a separate page.

Coming Out Ministries Accused of Covert Conversion Therapy, which Michigan Bans

In July 2023, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills 4616 and 4617 “to protect LGBTQ+ youth by prohibiting conversion therapy for minors.” Michigan joined 21 states that already ban what Whitmer called a “harmful practice,” saying the state was “prioritizing the wellbeing of young LGBTQ+ individuals.”

The press release announcing the laws said,

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy” refers to any intervention that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It rests on the false, offensive premise that an LGBTQ+ individual’s identity is pathological and must be “repaired” or “fixed.” The nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations oppose the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Not only is conversion therapy ineffectual, it can lead to significant long-term harm, including anxiety, depression, internalized homophobia, self-blame, and higher risk of suicide. 

Whitmer said on her Facebook page, “Since day one, I’ve made it clear that hate has no home in Michigan. We’re putting an end to the harmful practice of conversion therapy and ensuring that everyone is welcome in Michigan.”

A Religion News Service news story reports that Coming Out Ministries, an organization currently fundraising for new headquarters across the street from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, may be covertly attempting to do exactly what Michigan has banned—change the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals including minors.

RNS notes that Coming Out’s newsletters “have featured instructions for having ‘true and complete victory over homosexuality’ and affirmations that ‘gays can become completely straight.’”

The RNS report cites objections from Andrews students to Coming Out’s having access to the university’s students. Senior psychology student at Andrews Erin Beers has been strident in her opposition to Coming Out and its potential to harm LGBTQ+ youth.

Beers told RNS Coming Out poses danger to a population already at risk for self-harm and suicidal ideation. RNS writer Kathryn Post reported Beers’ objection:

“They’re going to hurt people, and they’re going to do it in the name of the Adventist church and God,” she said, describing the group’s tactics as manipulative. “Students looking for a safe space to process their sexuality will instead be met by a group with a clear agenda.”

RNS noted Coming Out has been disinvited from Adventist camp meetings and conferences due to concerns that the group promotes conversion therapy, a claim Coming Out denies.

Four Andrews students RNS contacted for their story expressed negative views of the organization. One speaking anonymously said he met with Coming Out in spring 2021, after which “my depression got worse. I started hating who I was even more, fixating even more on this very narrow sliver of who I am as a person, and ultimately, I think it took a lot longer for me to accept myself because I have gone to these meetings.”

A university spokesperson told RNS that discussions of sexuality with students “occur in-house, utilizing the counselors and ministers on our campus.” The statement affirmed the university’s commitment to “the Biblical definition of marriage and relationships.”

Religion News Service

Jared Wright |

Maury Jackson at Sligo: Sacralizing the Social

On Saturday, February 24, guest speaker and La Sierra University professor of practical theology Maury Jackson preached at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church a sermon titled “Sacralizing the Social”.

Jackson drew from a biblical passage not often preached from Adventist pulpits, Leviticus 24:23 (New International Version), “…and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him.”

“Today’s reader experiences the strangeness of the world that produced the Book of Leviticus,” Jackson said.

Jared Wright |

Oakwood University Holds Vigil for Sophomore Jeavonn Barracks

On Friday, February 24, Oakwood University held a vigil for 20-year-old sophomore Jeavonn Barracks, who died after a swimming incident at the university Natatorium.

Oakwood University vice president for student life and mission David Richardson said in an Instagram post that Barracks was hospitalized on Thursday, February 15, following the on-campus incident. “Over the past seven days, the Oakwood University community has been praying relentlessly for one of our bright lights,” the social media message said. University officials told numerous media outlets Barracks died one week later. “Today, it is with deep sadness and heartfelt sympathy that we announce the death of Jeavonn Barracks,” Richardson wrote.

The message offered “deepest sympathies to Jeavonn’s family, friends, and classmates,” and solicited prayers on their behalf.

The university offered several forms of support:

“Several resources have been mobilized to help and support our campus and community cope with this time of grief. OU Health and Counseling Services are providing counseling services to those in need. Additionally, the Office of Spiritual Life and Mission is providing prayer and spiritual support to all those who need it.”

If you would like to speak with a counselor, please call: Atonte Myers…A Touch of Peace…To speak with a licensed counselor 24/7, please call Crisis Services of North Alabama – Grief and Loss Hotline.”

The university also announced an open Zoom call with university chaplains Friday, February 23.

“On Friday evening at 6 PM, there will be a prayer vigil at the Eternal Flame” Richardson said. Afterward, condolence cards were made available for signing in the Oakwood University Church lobby to be sent to Barracks’ family “to show our love and support.”

Jared Wright |

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Adventism, despite its global reach, notoriously retains strong North American sensibilities in liturgy, eschatology, and polity. Given the church’s history—how and where it started—this may be understandable. Considering denominational leaders’ emphasis on homogeneity coupled with respect for church pioneers bordering on deification, Adventism’s bent toward Americanness makes sense. It is often joked that the Adventist in Africa has the double burden of trying to fit into another culture first before being Christlike. 

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In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a denomination predictably and consistently hostile to any hint of hip-hop culture, it would seem unlikely that a young crop of passionate, self-motivated independent rappers would pop up across the landscape. But it is happening, and it’s time for the Adventist Church not only to take notice, but also to reckon with how much of a resource it is wasting.

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