Adventists Continue to Respond to Racial Violence In Charlottesville

Here is a sampling of events, news stories, statements, and blog posts relating to the recent racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. See our previous reporting here--NAD & ASJ.

Call to Prayer for Charlottesville (19 Aug 2017)

Seventh-day Adventist Entities Respond to Charlottesville (Alisa Williams, Spectrum, 18 Aug 2017)

Pacific Union Conference President Responds to Charlottesville Atrocities: “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” (Adventist Today, 18 Aug 2017)

Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Ricardo Graham Responds to White Supremacist Violence (Ricardo Graham, Spectrum, 17 Aug 2017)

A Response to Events in Charlottesville, Virginia (Michael Nixon, Andrews University Diversity Blog, 17 Aug 2017)

A Brutal Wakeup Call (Ty Gibson, Light Bearers, 17 Aug 2017)

On Being Adventist in the Wake of Charlottesville (Laura Wibberding, The Other Adventist Home, 17 Aug 2017) [I want to add a comment that I think both are problems -- racism and lack of activism.]

Adventist Congregations & Leaders Respond to Violent Incident in Virginia (Adventist Today, 15 Aug 2017)

Charlottesville. How Do We React? (Roger Hernandez, The Haystack, 14 Aug 2017)

And a general message from Andrews University - Instagram

NAD Responds to Violence in Charlottesville

The North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination posted a news story about the recent racial violence in Virginia (link). The article begins:

Tragedy struck the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017, when demonstrators at a white nationalist rally, after a day of protests and clashes, were hit by the car of an Ohio man whom authorities claim held radical views. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed; according to news reports, nine pedestrians were injured in the crash with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening.
 
The local Adventist churches are working together to help with the healing process.

The article also contains a statement from Daniel R. Jackson and G. Alexander Bryant, the president and executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.

It finishes with a response from Adventist pastor and former APF student leader, Daniel Xisto. Be sure to click through to his moving response--I'm not OK.

The complete NAD article can be read here.

ASJ: Stand in Solidarity against the Evils of Racism

Adventists for Social Justice released the following statement regarding the racial violence in Virginia over the weekend:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August, 13th, 2017. This weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, we watched from across the country, as hundreds of torch-wielding white nationalists marched through this town, intending to attack and intimidate through a “Unite the Right” rally in opposition of a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, from a city park. These violent, racist acts are tragic and intolerable. 

This is blatant domestic terrorism, with racially driven actions we have been reminded over time are not behind us. These reminders appear to be occurring rapidly, in our towns and cities, and it is imperative for us to act in defense of our friends, families, and neighbors. 

We MUST stand up for each other, because we know the history, and we are painfully aware of what such demonstrations represent. We are weary as we observe that the highest office of the land, shifts blames on "both sides", instead of wielding power and status to defend minorities and the oppressed within this United States of America.

In times like this, we share feelings of hurt, pain, sorrow, and fear. We are encouraged now more than ever that although "troubled on every side, not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." 

This is the time for Adventists for Social Justice to stand in solidarity against the evils of racism and we are committed to protecting those in fear, and combat and denounce hatred and injustice from every avenue. God is clear, we must do good, seek justice, and correct oppression. Silence is not an option. The challenge is for you, your leaders and churches to join us in fulfilling Christ's mission on Earth, being centers of hope, peace, and action.

Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. bates, whose lives were senselessly lost at this time.

AToday: Race in Society and Religion (Cleran Hollancid)

In May 2017, Cleran Hollancid posted an 8-part Adventist Today series on racial justice and reconciliation. I appreciated Cleran's voice on the Compass conversations (It Is Time to Talk, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3*), and I enjoyed seeing him again at Repairing the Breach after meeting him several years earlier. While at Repairing the Breach, he told me about his series of articles that would be posted on AToday.

Cleran's bio on the AToday series reads:

Cleran L. Hollancid is a life-long Adventist who belongs to a congregation in Michigan. He is a PhD candidate in the sociology of religion at Western Michigan University. His research has focused on racial segregation in the Adventist Church in the United States of America. He completed a BA in theology at Caribbean Union College, the Master of Divinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, an MA in anthropology and an MA in sociology at Wayne State University. Is an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies Program at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose of this eight-part series is to offer beginning steps toward racial reconciliation in the Adventist faith community.

Here are links to the eight essays:

  1. Race in Society and Religion: Its Implications and Its Long Shadow (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 22 May 2017)
  2. The Notion of Race in Light of History, Current Events and Comparative Religious Outlooks (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 23 May 2017)
  3. Legacy of Race: Implications and Historical Considerations in Adventist Culture (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 25 May 2017)
  4. More about the Legacy of Race in Seventh-day Adventist Culture (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 26 May 2017)
  5. More about the Legacy of Race in Seventh-day Adventist Culture (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 29 May 2017)
  6. Progress in the Twenty-first Century? (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 7 June 2017)
  7. Moving Forward: Considerations for Adventists (Cleran Hollancid, Adv Today, 11 June 2017)
  8. Summary and Steps toward a New Beginning (Cleran Hollancid, 12 June 2017)

*See also David Penno's Compass Magazine blog posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Documentary Looks at Operation Whitecoat

Kimberly Luste Maran interviewed Colonel Randall Larsen, USAF (Ret.) about his documentary Operation Whitecoat (Filmmaker talks about documentary on Adventist volunteers in Army's "Operation Whitecoat", NADAdventist.org, 21 June 2016). The article begins:

"Operation Whitecoat" is a documentary that tells the story of more than 2,300 Adventist, noncombatant conscientious objectors who volunteered for biodefense research studies from 1954-1973. These patriots are described as showing extraordinary commitment to their religious principles and great courage to participate in tests that produced outcomes reaching far beyond Army biodefense.
 
Through 151 medical studies during 19 years, a vast amount of data was gathered on naturally-occurring diseases. Thought the project is not without some controversy, thirteen important vaccines still used around the world were developed and tested for safety and efficacy during Operation Whitecoat. Vaccines still in use today include Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Plague, Tularemia, Typhus, Rift Valley Fever, Q Fever, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Chikungunya, and Adenovirus.

Maran and Larsen wrap-up the interview with the following two exchanges:

Who do you hope watches this, and why?
 
I made the film as a tribute to the commitment, courage, and contributions of the Whitecoats. The Whitecoats and their families are the primary audience. We also hope that the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church will learn more about these extraordinary men, and hope that the church will use the film as a teaching tool to facilitate discussion on non-combatant conscientious objectors, ethics, and service to one's community and country. We eventually hope to take this inspiring story to a broad audience who have not yet heard about Whitecoats, and who have little knowledge of the Adventist Church.
 
How can people watch the documentary film?
 
This film is available for purchase; for more information and to watch a trailer, go to: http://operationwhitecoatmovie.com.

To read the complete interview, visit NADAdventist.org.

Ohio Congregation Cares for Refugees, Promotes Reconciliation

The Adventist Review posted a story recently about the Centerville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dayton, Ohio, United States. The congregation is a church plant focusing on the needs of refugees from Africa. Excerpts:

Most of the refugees come from Rwanda, with some from Burundi and Congo. The majority do not yet know English but are making efforts to learn.

“Many in the group have never lived in a setting like the one they are experiencing [in the US], because many of them have spent 20 years in refugee camps, living only in tents,” [senior pastor Winston Baldwin] said.

“As you can imagine, the physical needs of these refugees are great,” said Baldwin. “They need everything from clothing and household goods to washers and dryers.” Many Centerville members have donated clothing, appliances and even provided plumbing repairs.

The complete article is available online: "US Africa Refugee Church Plant Brings Reconciliation, Growth" (Heidi Shoemaker, Adventist Review, 27 July 2017).

TEDNews: Watford Peace Garden a Living Tribute to Those Who 'Stand for Right Though the Heavens Fall’

We should have reported this story months ago. The TED News Network posted a story about the Watford Peace Garden on September 21, 2016. Excerpt:

Officially opened in a moving and thought provoking ceremony on Wednesday, 21 September, the International Day of Peace, the idea for the garden arose out of a recognition that 130 Adventist men, many of them based around Stanborough Park, the Church headquarters office in Watford, went to prison and suffered severely for their non-combatant values during World War I. Even in World War II, where the government had a much better understanding of Adventist principles, Adventist men had to appear before a tribunal and were then assigned to work of ‘national importance’.

Read the entire article here (Richard Daly/tedNEWS).

Croatian Adventist Pastor receives 2016 Human Rights Award

Dragutin Matak—an Adventist Pastor and theologian also serving as the General Secretary of the Croatian Religious Liberty Association—was one of three individuals to receive the 2016 Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Award on Friday, December 9. All three were “were recognized for their promotion of human rights, religious liberty and interreligious dialogue.”

Among his recent activities Matak was part of a delegation of religious representatives from Croatia who visited the religious and political leaders of Iran during the summer. In his acceptance speech Matak emphasised the need for personal moral responsibilities in achieving human and religious freedom.

Read the full story on the Adventist News Network.