Get Over It? – Race and Black Conferences Re-mixed

Someone emailed the following:

Discussions of white racism. You call for unity, yet insist on segregating yourselves from “white” people. Get over it! Jesus didn’t segregate, and neither should you.

I assume this is in response to this balanced post

Would Jesus Attack Racism?

I can only assume that this person would deny that Jesus would attack racism. Would Jesus speak the truth about why these conferences were created? We are in a wold of hurt when we cannot acknowledge the fact of racism and discrimination. We will never get over this hump towards supposed unity by sweeping this under the rug and telling black folks to “Get over it!” I guess they would assume that Jesus would sweep this under the rug and call for a superficial unity not based in a true unity that comes from an acknowledgment and understanding of each other.

Who Should Get Over It?

No, it is time for those who do not wish to acknowledge the truth of the past to get over their blindness. It is time for those who think that unity comes from ignoring the pain and hurt and reality of continued problems to get over it! It is time for the strong to get over their use of power to attempt to silence others.

This sentiment reminds me that there is still a role and place for these conferences, because we cannot truly “get over it” by solely blaming black people for their creation or continued existence. I am seeing this argument more and more and find it offensive.

Should I Lie?

It is offensive to blame black people for the creation or continued existence of these conferences when they were created because of white racism. Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16) Should I lie and blame black people as too many are doing? Should I lie and ignore the years of mess that caused its creation? Would you be happy if I lied? Truth is truth, and I plan to say it and shame the devil.

I do reiterate as I wrote in that article under consideration, that we should come together and discuss when and under what circumstances we should move beyond this, but merely sweeping under the rug differences is not an acceptable strategy.

The Laughable Accusation of Racism

Finally, there is the laughable accusation of racism. There is simple minded idea that the elimination of the black conferences will eliminate the black and white churches.

But more than that, my accuser makes an unwarranted assumption about my church affiliation based on my recognizing that Black conferences were created because of white racism. This assumption is shown to be false by the fact that while I am not a member, the church I have been attending for the last 2 years is a mixed, but predominantly white church in a non-black conference. I wonder if my accuser would move beyond rhetoric and actually work towards the vision he or she describes, or simply make assumptions about those who acknowledge the truth…

Is it Time? – Frederick Russell, Calvin Rock, and the Black Conferences

In a very interesting move, the Allegheny West Conference has elected Pastor Frederick Russell to become its next president. What is interesting to me is that this happens during the discussion in the Adventist world over the existence of so called “regional conferences.”

Russell has written an article that calls for the removal of the separated conferences in America. His plan, which looks like one of the plans presented in the General Conference document that we blogged on two years ago and can be found at this link, calls for the abolishment of both the local conference and the union conference levels and then create a new entity that is larger than a local conference, but smaller than a union conference.

In contrast, Dr. Calvin Rock disagrees with Russel. You can find his compelling piece at this link.

What to Keep in Mind

I think when we talk about the Black and White conferences we need to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost many of our brothers and sisters of other denominational traditions are being hypocritical when they condemn us for having black and white conferences. We must keep in mind that many of their denominations may not have black and white conferences, the reason being is because they have white and black Denominations. The Methodists split along the color line and so did the Baptists. Certainly today we see some black churches in predominantly white denominations, and a few in the other direction, but I have heard to many Adventists doing hand wringing when a baptist asks about Black conferences when we can at least say we didn’t split the denomination itself.

Black People Can’t Bear the Brunt of The Black Conference Existence

Another important point to keep in mind, Black people cannot bear the brunt for the reason for their existence. I sometimes hear black and white brothers and sisters blaming black people for the existence of “Black conferences.” Their existence was due to white racism totally. This was not created by so called black racism, but white racism plain and simple. If we ever do away with them, we must recognize this and state it, if we don’t it will demonstrate their need. A new way this is argued is to say “we don’t’ have white conferences we have black conferences and integrated conferences.” This is attempting to sweep it all under the rug and blame black people for its current existence.

Structural Renewal Can’t be Used to Sweep Under the Rug

Also, The real need for structural renewal cannot be used to sweep away the Black conferences without us fully dealing with why we created them in the first place.

Is it time to get rid of the Black conferences? I don’t know, but I tend to doubt it. Is it time to get together and figure out when that time would be? Well it is way past time for that determination. We pray that Frederick Russell can begin that conversation in his new role.

Two Major Lessons of the Sacrificial System

M. L. Andreasen in his very helpful work The Sanctuary Service discusses two primary lessons that the sacrificial system impressed on the mind of the petitioner. The first lesson is Sin Means Death. We are told this explicitly in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is simply death. When we sin we are simply buying death, we are setting in motion a death cycle in our lives. We are simply setting ourselves up for future and sometimes present difficulties. The sacrificial system taught the petitioner clearly that sin means death.

The next thing that Andreasen notes is that sacrificial system taught is that forgiveness of sin requires confession and ministration of blood. Sin requires death, to be saved from sin requires the death of the sacrifice as well as confession of sin.

These two primary lessons were taught to those who offered a sacrifice in the typical service. Sometimes preachers note how difficult it was for those who lived under the Typical system. They “had” to bring a lamb, kill it, etc. Often preachers are attempting to describe the great difference between then and now where we presumably don’t have to do any of these things, however, the system lets us know that while we don’t kill a lamb, we kill the Lamb of God. While we don’t go to Jerusalem, we do by faith go to the heavenly tabernacle where Christ ministers. We can never let the “ease” of our forgiveness hide from us the great cost of our salvation to the Son of God.