BERRIEN SPRINGS - At a Forum on State and Regional Conferences Saturday afternoon, Andrews University students unveiled the language of an official request to the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists calling for a restructuring of conferences and/or an explanation of the reasons for the current organizational structure.
The forum was hosted by several student organizations on the Andrews Campus, and featured Timothy Nixon, Secretary of the Lake Region Conference, Michael Polite, Associate Chaplain of Andrews University, Taurus Montgomery of the Harbor of Hope Adventist Church, Nicholas Miller, Professor of Church History at Andrews University, Dwight Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church, Melodie Roschman, Editor of The Student Movement (Andrews University's student paper), and Shastri Lloyd, a columnist for The Student Movement.
Following a panel discussion on regional and state conferences, the student leaders who orgainzed the forum, including student president Olivia Ruiz-Knott, presented their statement to the North American Division, along with a list of student organizations on the Andrews campus that endorsed the statement. The students acknowledged that in order for the statement to gain recognition, it needed to be shared through social media and email. They envited people to share the statement from the Student Association Facebook page.
The statement as presented follows:
A request from the Andrews University Adventist Peace Fellowship Chapter (APF), in collaboration with the officers of the Andrews University Student Association (AUSA), Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF), Andrews Ministerial Association (AMA), African Student Association (ASA), Andrews University Religious Liberty Association (AURLA), AULL4One (A41), Caribbean Nations Club (CNC), J. N. Andrews Honors Program, Korean American Student Association (KASA), Phi Alpha Theta, Pre-Law Society, and Saving Oppressed Servants (SOS);
To the Executive Committee of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists:
In light of the national conversations surrounding race and race relations over the past year, we have become increasingly concerned about the lack of clarity regarding the administrative separation of our church conferences along racial lines in the North American Division.
We understand that there are many strong and diverse opinions on this issue. Even within our own group, there are opinions as to whether restructuring should even be sought; and opinions regarding how restructuring could be appropriately accomplished.
However, one thing on which we all agree is that the present structure seems peculiar. Without explanation, we worry about how it looks to the outside world. We worry about how it looks to us.
Therefore, we request that the North American Division do one or both of the following:
1. Form a Commission tasked with developing a strategy that culminates in the restructuring of our conferences by the year 2020;
2. Release an official public statement, to be passed at the North American Division Year-end Meeting in the fall of 2015, clearly explaining why we maintain the current organizational structure.
This request is presented with the hope of reconciliation, in a spirit of deep regard for the sensitivity of this subject, profound respect for church order, and earnest desire for the advancement of God’s Kingdom through this unique Adventist movement.
Check back soon for a full report on the forum.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.