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Seven Reasons Why I Joined Concerned Oakwoodites, and You Should Too

Edward Woods III

1.  It is time for systemic change throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This includes Oakwood University, which shares similar challenges with some of the local conferences.

2.  There are too many substantiated leaks out of Oakwood—from the top to the bottom—for me not to be concerned about the finances, enrollment, employee morale, alumni engagement, customer service to parents and students, condition of the facilities, and the unstable Internet.

3.  As a Black Seventh-day Adventist, I know that protest is a familiar and effective approach to creating change. It’s embedded in our DNA. Our Adventist pioneers embodied it. And when the church abandoned the protest of our pioneers, Black Adventists had to pick up the prophetic mantle for justice both outside and inside the church. As the Black Church brings consciousness to America, Black Adventists must continue to bring consciousness to our denomination.

4.  When Oakwood’s board of trustees divorced itself from the OU alumni association, it galvanized alumni to broaden. Many have united with other stakeholders, forming groups like Concerned Oakwoodites to work together on common concerns and goals. 

5.  When Concerned Oakwoodites asked me to join their leadership team in February 2024, they knew I opposed calling for the resignation of the university president. This showed me that disagreements are met with respect. Members are free to hold differing perspectives without fear of retaliation, marginalization, or isolation. (Nevertheless, I frequently ponder this question: After 13 years, would it be in the best interest of Oakwood to have a new person at the helm?)

6.  As a former OU board member and former member of two other higher education boards, it is evident to me that the Oakwood’s board remains on a collision course over whether the university president is bigger than the institution, or if the institution is bigger than the university president. The Concerned Oakwoodites group is dedicated to holding both parties accountable. 

7.  In focusing and fulfilling its mission as advocates for change, Concerned Oakwoodites is not distracted by negative labels in fulfilling its mission for change. As a volunteer local conference departmental director for more than 16 years, I can assure you that seeking systemic change is messy. When you are perceived as being with the organization, you are full of the Holy Spirit. But when you are perceived as against the organization, you are a tool of the enemy. Initiating reform demands perseverance. 

Here is the reality: we have some leaders whose leadership is reminiscent of the Sanhedrin council, while others demonstrably follow Christ. It is imperative to seek a daily, fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit so that God may use his people to speak truth, no matter the circumstance. Labels distract from the mission. They hold you in the paralysis of reputational fear. We, individually and collectively, are responsible for our actions and reactions. Let us move forward together in expressing our concerns, undistracted by labels, as we speak truth to power.

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