APF Statement on Florida Mass Shooting

The Adventist Peace Fellowship is devastated by the mass killing of members of the LGBT community in Orlando, Florida. We extend our deepest grief and support to the families, partners, and friends of the victims, and we stand in solidarity with individuals and organizations working to combat all forms of hatred, bigotry, violence, and intolerance. We also call on church leaders in the Adventist tradition to speak forthrightly to the fact that the slain in Orlando were by every indication targeted not only as an act of terror but also as an act of homophobia by an individual whose hatred was stoked by religious intolerance.

Since 2011, the Adventist Peace Fellowship—a broadly inclusive network that has sought to promote principles of nonviolence and a spirit of dialogue across theological differences—has included on our website a statement about both racial and gender justice. We realize it is a very imperfect document reflecting the fact that we are ourselves an imperfect and often sadly fractured community, but we hope that it might challenge all Adventists to a renewed commitment to the work of peace and justice in a broken world. The statement reads:

The Adventist church emerged at the height of slavery in the United States and was led by a group of young people from New England who embraced the most radical social reforms of their day,[1] including: abolitionism, elimination of class distinctions based upon birth rights, and women’s suffrage. The Adventist pioneers were led by a young woman, Ellen White, who was accepted by the fledgling denomination as possessing a unique prophetic ministry and authority. While the movement was in many ways a hotbed of theological exploration, vigorous debate, and radical thinking, on some questions the pioneers refused to allow for any compromise: White declared that individuals who publically defended slavery should be expelled from the Adventist movement.[2] She also urged Adventists to defy a Federal statute, the Fugitive Slave Law.
Despite these radical beginnings, the Adventist church over time became increasingly socially cautious and disengaged from pressing human rights issues. After an early period in which numerous Adventist women held important leadership roles, male officials increasingly came to marginalize women from leadership positions in the church that was originally led by a woman. During the Civil Rights era in the United States, the movement begun by New England abolitionists remained largely silent in the face of racial injustice. Adventists leaders and members were complicit with apartheid in South Africa and active participants in genocide in Rwanda.[3] Today, many gay and lesbian Adventists[4] are unable to find Adventist congregations where they know they will be treated with full dignity and humanity as persons made in the image of God.
You Are All One in Christ
The APF welcomes actions to repair historical wrongs and to put an end to all forms of violence and discrimination rooted in a refusal to accept the Other at the deepest levels of their personhood. We support women in ministry and at all levels of church leadership. We repent of all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination and seek ways of overcoming divisions based upon injustices of the past. Recognizing the complexity of the theological, scriptural, historical, and cultural questions concerning homosexuality in the Christian tradition—a matter that tragically divides Adventists no less than Catholics, Anglicans, and others—the APF, until such time as we receive greater clarity and consensus:
1. Affirms the dignity and fundamental human rights of all persons regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation;
2. Embraces campaigns and actions aimed at ending all forms of violence, intimidation, harassment, and bullying of persons for their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation;
3. Supports public policies that maintain a clear separation of church (mosque, synagogue, or temple) and state, neither attempting to impose essentially religious or theological understandings upon society as a whole nor penalizing forms of religious expression and association that include their own understandings of sexual ethics;
4. Urges all Adventist churches to serve their communities as places of refuge from threatening, bigoted, and uncompassionate actions and speech; and
5. Encourages respectful, inclusive, and ongoing dialogue between persons with different understandings of what sexual faithfulness within the Body of Christ requires of believers today.
[1] http://www.memorymeaningfaith.org/blog/2010/04/adventist-pioneers-women-ministry.html
[2] http://www.oakwood.edu/goldmine/hdoc/blacksda/champ/index.html
[3] http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2716
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Seventh-day_Adventism

Adventists Respond to Mass Shooting in Florida

“Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Florida and California have reached out to LGBT+ communities in the wake of yesterday’s massacre at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida. The shooting claimed the lives of fifty people and wounded fifty-three more,” reports Jared Wright for Spectrum.

Wright continues: “The Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apopka, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Geoff Paterson, announced on Facebook that it would hold free funeral services for any of the victims of the shooting.”

Image above is a screenshot taken from Facebook

Image above is a screenshot taken from Facebook

“On the opposite coast, the Glendale City Adventist Church in Glendale, California will host a community vigil to honor the victims tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14). From 11:00 am to 7:30 pm, the doors of the sanctuary will be open for mourning and reflection. At 7:30 pm, the church will host a service of remembrance.” Read Spectrum’s full article here.

The Glendale City Adventist Church is a member of the Adventist Peace Fellowship Peace Church Network.

Additionally, pastor Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, released a statement about the mass shooting.
This is an excerpt from his statement:

We strongly denounce the hate that led to this mass shooting. This type of senseless violence has no place in this country or in this world. It is appalling that these lives were tragically cut short because of hate. We pray that God’s love will comfort and console the victims’ loved ones whose lives have become a nightmare overnight.

As Christians, we strongly believe that hate, for anyone, brother, sister, friend or enemy, comes not from God, but from the father of evil himself, the devil. We must condemn all expressions of hate, from speech to deadly violence. All of the women, children, and men in this world, regardless of whether they worship, live, or love like us, are children of God.”

Jackson’s complete statement can be read on the NAD website

Jackson Responds to Mass Shooting in California

Both Spectrum and Adventist Today have reported on the recent mass shooting in California. Today Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, released a statement on the shooting. The statement begins: "The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America is heartbroken that we must once again mourn the loss of innocent lives as the result of gun violence. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the 14 people killed, the 21 wounded, and their friends and colleagues. We also pray for the community of San Bernardino and Redlands and the heartache and anxiety they are experiencing as a result of this tragedy."

Near the end of the statement, Jackson calls for action. "Along with our heartfelt prayers, it is time that something is done to address the pandemic of gun violence. It is time that we say No to these tragic massacres that have become commonplace in the United States. It is time that we do something to find solutions to put an end to this pervasive problem."

The complete statement was posted by the Adventist News Network (ANN).