Did you know that the Seventh-day Adventist church in the United States is segregated and prone to discrimination because of the regional conferences?
There are eight regional areas in the United States called Union Conferences with a total of about one million members.
Here is a map of these eight . . .
These regional areas or divided into local conferences as described on this webpage https://www.diggingfortruth.org/library-links/unions-and-conferences-in-nad
About 70 years ago the church restructured the organization of six unions by creating a segregated conference in each union to serve the needs of African-American members. The territory of the black conference overlapped the territory of the Union Conference so that for any place in the territory there were two local conferences for black and non-black members to choose from. Before this change there was no overlap and any address in the union's territory was serviced by only one conference. Here is a list of black conferences in the United States.
In the Lake Union Conference it is the Lake Region Conference (Established: 1945) https://lrcsda.com
In the Mid America Union it is the Central States Conference www.central-states.org
In the Southern Union Conference it is the South Atlantic Conference HQ in Atlanta, Georgia http://sacsda.org/ (serving North and South Carolina, north and central Georgia) and the South Central Conference (established in 1946) to serve Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida. HQ in Nashville, Tenn. (History: https://www.scc-adventist.org/about-us-2/our-history/ )
In the Southwestern Union Conference it is the Southwest Region Conference, HQ in Dallas, Texas ( Established in 1947 ) www.mysouthwestregion.org
In the seventy years since these regional conferences were created the culture has changed, the laws have changed. Even neighborhoods have gentrified from all black to multi-ethnic and the black church no longer represents the demographic of the neighborhood around it.
Now in 2019, many things have changed but some have not, this will be discussed on several on-line forums for Adventists and some key points will be incorporated into this article.
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Video with top NAD leaders discussing recent racial injustices and the history and relevancy of regional conferences and racism in SDA church. ( June 18, 2020 ) -- https://www.nadadventist.org/news/conversation-racism-and-adventism-nad-leadership Video is 58 minutes, part about regional conferences starts at 8 min 25 sec.
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Video of Panal Discussion by 'It is Written' - Canada's YouTube channel on July 22, 2020. "What do you think about Systemic Racism" Host is Pastor Mike Lemon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EQ-yU_NZXk&feature=youtu.be -- Michael Nixon talks about history of Regional Conferences from 33 minutes to 39 minutes, he says white church leaders wanted to maintain white conferences, so they formed "colored conferences" for black Adventists. At 50 min. 45 seconds he said, "We made a bad decision"
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LINKEDin groups discussing this topic:
E-ventists in Law Practice - - SouthWest Region Conference - - E-ventists in Washington, DC - - E-ventist Network - - Linking SDAs - - Linked SDA's - - E-ventists in New England - - E-ventists in Texas - - E-ventists in Education (published 4/12) - -
Here are some of the comments posted on the groups listed above:
On June 20, 2015, Elder Don Livesay, president of the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists issued an official apology to the constituents of the Lake Region Conference for the failings of the churches within the Lake Union to live above the cancerous culture of racism that lead to the formation of Black Conferences. Here is LINK to the video and transcript of his apology - - https://lrcsda.com/about/lrc-70th-celebration/
The Northeastern Conference has a web page about its history - https://www.northeastern.org/abt/the-conference/history-of-northeastern - It says, "The Negro membership had grown to the degree that the necessity of making a singular appeal to this largest minority within the American population became apparent . . . The existence of such a situation here and else ware was recognized by the general conference and resulted in the organization of what came to be known as Regional Conferences."
Comment on group for Lawyers - April 12: "It makes it sound like the regional conferences are the cause of racial discrimination within the church. Instead, I would suggest this minor edit: "Did you know that regional conferences based on race were established within the Seventh-day Adventist church in the United States because of racial discrimination within the Church?" In addition, any article that addresses this division without discussing some specifics of incidents that were the catalyst of this division, misses the mark."
Comment posted on Law Practice group: (May 27th) ". . . the history of what happened 79 years ago to spur the birth if regional conferences. I would suggest a short documentary on the topic. http://thehaystack.tv/thewound/. This doc was shown in many congregations and was the catalyst for productive conversations and education."
Posted on several discussions, May 27th: "In New York City a white person requested to join a church in Northeastern Conference. The church board voted to reject this request for membership without even talking to him. The person wanted to know why he was rejected but they refused to say, so he appealed to the conference administration. The president rendered a decision that the local church is given "full autonomy" to decide matters of membership. The person appealed this to Union Conference giving three places in Church Manual that disproved this 'full autonomy.' The Union Conference ignored him, the appeal went to GC's Unity in Mission Oversight Committee as non-compliance by conference president to church policy. After a year of waiting for a decision, the person brought a complaint of discrimination to NY State. The undersecretary of GC then responded and referred the person to GC's top lawyer, so the person put the complaint to the state on hold. Question: Do you think the GC lawyer should respond when a case is referred by a leader of General Conference (ie: Undersecretary) ? "
Posted on Education group, July 3rd: Excerpt of Sermon by Wentley Phipps (Jan. 2015) to Camp Meeting of Northeastern Conference -- about the Great Crisis in the Church --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miZr75v4VDs&feature=youtu.be He says, Jesus does not prefer that we build churches based on nationality and ethnicity ( 4 min. 45 seconds) and "Reach out to African Americans in America (12 min; 20 seconds)
Posted on Law Practice group, July 5th: "Unity in Mission is important. When there are two conferences overlapping the same territory, this increases decisions that are not in unity. I mentioned (below) a church in Northeastern conference that rejected a request to join from a white person. The church board decision was for him to go to a church in Greater New York Conference and become a member there and then he could transfer to them. He complained to the conference president, that this was not proper procedure, the president said, the church had "full autonomy" to make any decision about membership. What they did was OK in his conference. So he went to the GNYC church, showed the rejection letter and the decision from conference president and asked to join. The pastor, said this is not proper procedure, we don't recognize authority of the president of another conference, we will not cooperate. The conference upheld the pastor's decision. This is one example of disunity in mission that happens when two conferences operate in the same territory. This person has to move to another state to become a member of God's church, or a higher level of administration needs to decide which conference is right, and uphold Unity in Mission."
On August 26, 2020, an article was published on NAD website with a commentary and a call to action. In the brief article the NAD takes a firm stand against racism. https://www.nadadventist.org/news/gods-agents-positive-change
“Today, we take a stand against racism. Today, we commit to stand up against injustice. Today, we commit to be the voice of those who do not have one. Today, we commit to do what God requires of us: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8, NRSV)
Today, we commit ourselves to be God’s agents of positive change for a better, more equitable tomorrow.”
The page last updated: Aug. 27, 2020