I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
Truth is I have felt like this for a long time, but the events of the last few weeks have amplified this feeling. It is a feeling that many African-Americans, and especially young African-American Adventists, have been feeling for many years. We are torn. I am torn. I feel like my blackness and my Christianity are at odds.
Scripture is pretty clear that there should not be division in the body of Christ. Jesus prayed that we would be one. Paul spoke against division in 1 Corinthians and Romans. There is no doubt in my mind that Christ desires that His church be unified and not be divided along ethnic, racial, or gender lines. In Christ there is no black or white, no Jew or Gentile, and no male or female. We are all equal in Christ's sight. There will not be separate white and black services in heaven. Heaven will not have a ghetto. We will all live together in peace and harmony. But we are not in heaven yet.
The Adventist church has been divided along racial lines officially for almost 80 years and unofficially since the late 19th century. I used to be very ambivalent about Regional (read black) Conferences. In light of all I said earlier and all that the Bible has to say about unity in the body of Christ, I felt that the time of Regional Conferences had come to an end. We must unify. We must come together and be one church, one body awaiting the coming of Christ.
That is my Christianity talking.
But my blackness says I am glad we have Regional Conferences. Yes, I am glad. My blackness understands why Regional Conferences were created and sees their continued relevance. My blackness is glad that we have our own organizations where we can exact our own leadership and be in control of our own affairs and destinies. My blackness is glad I had the experiences at Pine Forge Academy (a historically black academy) and Oakwood University. My blackness does not believe that the Eurocentric church would ever fully address our concerns and meet our needs. My blackness does not believe the church would ever fully bring us into equal partnership any more than the society at large will.
In light of the recent election and the recent events in Charlottesville, my blackness is also very suspicious of white Christians, and, yes, that includes Adventists who voted for the current President. At some level, conscious or unconscious, these Christians decided that there were other issues more important than our dignity, our self-respect, our rights, and yes, even our lives.
So yes, I am glad we have Regional Conferences. I know that conflicts with my Christianity, but as I said, I am a soul in conflict—as are many of us.
Meade Adams pastored for five years in D.C. and Virginia. He currently serves as a chaplain in Louisiana.
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