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Sabbath Worship at the Forum Conference


Worship: The Outer Court as Sacred Space

There was no sermon, instead the liturgy (by Stefanie Johnson) mixed hymns (accompanied by an all teen ladies string quintet from the Orlando area), video interpretations of scripture, public readings, a skit, and a conversation with Roy Branson.

I particularly enjoyed the hymn singing and found new meaning in the words of each hymn in the context of our conversation this weekend about Christians in the Public Square.

The Church Has One Foundation

Faith of Our Fathers

Rise Up Oh Church of God

"The Conversation"

A dramatic sketch written and performed by Tami Cinquemani with Enrico Marcellino from Florida Hospital SDA Church

You will remember, Tami as one of the brilliant pastor's wives behind the "Before He Speaks" music video. Again, she hit a home run. The skit was about disagreement and how we can seem right in our eyes and miss a new vision articulated by others. It ended with an affirmation of the journey of conversation – of always remaining in discussion through disagreement – and reminded me of the raison dour blog.

Reflections on the March on Selma

Stefanie interviewed Roy Branson about his participation in the historic Selma march.

(Stefani Johnson and Roy Branson)

Roy said that the reason that he went to the Selma march was because he really had no choice. He was in graduate school at Harvard and he didn't want to be working on his dissertation.

Roy also mentioned that there were other "liberal" Adventists at Harvard who often stood on the none-protest side of the Cambridge streets. Activism didn't break down on ideology grounds, for many it was just too new a thing.

Roy talked about how he struggled with understanding those Ellen White paragraphs in the back of the 9th book of the Testimonies that endorse segregation. He also talked about struggling with what the editors of the Review were writing at the time, that Adventists should not participate in marches. After much prayer, Roy got on the bus to Selma.

The first week he attended small workshops on non-violent protesting (how to curl up while being beat to direct the blow) marched in the afternoon, and then attended church-based revival meetings in the evening. During that week, they were waiting for a federal judge to rule on the march because, while Martin Luther King Jr. was fine with violating unjust local laws, he would not cross federal laws.

Finally, after a week, the ban was lifted and they marched. Roy was a marshal during the march, helping to maintain order and so at the end, he made it to the front as the march ended. He approached Abraham Joshua Heschel and mentioned his appreciation for Rabbi Heschel's book on the Sabbath. Interestingly he asked Heschel if he would have marched on the Sabbath and he said "no," but said that to march is a holy moment.

From there, Roy and Stefanie talked about their work on anti-tobacco legislation during the nineties, interestingly introduced by Sen. John McCain. Roy talked about how Adventists were again skeptical about the advocacy angle, including the head of public heath at Loma Linda University. Of course Adventists have a long tradition of advocating individual cessation of smoking, but didn't feel comfortable in raising cigarette taxes in order to disincentivize smoking.

Finally, Stefanie asked Roy the state of Adventist advocacy today. Roy mentioned two examples that he's continued to be involved in. One, he recently joined in a discussion with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in adding "social responsibility" to part of their mission which passed. Second, the former head of the LLU Public Health department is now President of the entire university and has recently expressed support for curricula that helps students studying health care think about their relationship to their public witness.

See more pictures from the conference on our Spectrum flickr account. They are organized by day and meeting.

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