A Message from Elder Graham, Pacific Union President

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! — Amos 5:24 (NIV)
 
George Floyd must live in our memory. His name will live among other names—Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery—names of black men killed by those sworn to protect, defend, and serve. The Bible says, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24, NIV).
 
Where is the church in the midst of all this violence? Where is the one institution in society that is supposed to be our moral compass, that is supposed to be a prophetic voice calling out injustice, demanding justice, promoting righteousness?
 
What is the legacy of the church in a nation plagued by systemic racism? Yes, it is a plague—as real and deadly as the locusts that rained down upon the Egyptians in the Exodus. Systemic racism in America is a plague of biblical proportions.
 
The legacy of the church is mixed. During the civil rights era, white pastors and other clergy joined with their black brothers and sisters to march, to be beaten, to give their blood for civil rights. They achieved stunning victories with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other key legislation. But then they went back to their congregations, and it was largely business as usual. These laws have profoundly changed our nation for the better, but they have failed to make much of a dent in systemic racism. Housing discrimination is illegal, but our neighborhoods still suffer a high degree of racial segregation. Employment discrimination is illegal, yet we don’t even have a term like “glass ceiling” to describe the exclusion of blacks from the top echelons of corporate governance. School segregation is illegal, yet public school demographics track with housing and schools have never fully desegregated.
 
Systemic racism is perhaps most clearly visible in the relationship between blacks and law enforcement. Blacks know it is a crime to have the wrong color skin. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a luxury car and wearing a business suit—those red flashing lights in the rearview mirror inspire fear of violence. No one black is safe, whether jogging around town, sitting in your car, or even lying in your bed.
 
What about the church? Has it become a silent dog, refusing to bark? Across our society, churches at worship remain the most segregated time in American life. Most of us don’t even worship together with people of other races. How can we expect to dismantle systemic racism in other parts of society?
 
Make no mistake: Christians occupy positions of leadership at every level of society—in government, in business, in education, and yes, in law enforcement. Christians have largely failed to do our duty to address systemic racism where we live and work, and where we have influence. It is time for us to repent, and not merely wring our hands and say, “I’m sorry.” No, it is time to remember. To remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others and, by remembering, to act. Racism is socially tolerated, allowed, even reinforced when we passively remain silent and fail to address it. Systemic racism exists because racists are not made to pay a price for their hate. We tolerate racists in our families, in our companies, and yes, in our churches. Racism is a sin, and until the church recovers its moral voice, the church will remain complicit. It is past time for anyone to think they can sit on the sidelines.
 
In our churches, we teach children to sing, “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.” We do this in churches that are largely segregated themselves, and we return to neighborhoods and schools that are largely segregated, and to companies where too few blacks occupy leadership posts. The death of George Floyd did not take place in a vacuum. George Floyd is dead because we permitted racism to flourish in America. George Floyd is dead, at least in part, because the church has failed to provide the moral compass we need.
 
I call on Christians, especially, and people of all faiths to take action in your communities and demand justice. There will never be justice so long as we tolerate racism. We must stop passively accepting the intolerable as the status quo. “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

A Message From Pastor Stephen

There have been moments in history that we pass down to our children. Things we want the world to remember, things we did right, along with the things we did as a world we should l not have done, tolerated or endorsed. 


Right now, as I write, I feel like I am in one of those times, with the responsibility to not remain silent. 


Today I saw someone use the Bible as a prop. Walk up to a church, and use the building, and the Word of God completely against the ways written in the pages. 


As Adventists, we as a people are always on the look out for official rejection of the Sabbath. I cannot in good conscience, overlook an obvious abuse of the 3rd commandment while waiting for the abuse of the 4th. 


Some of you will want to point out that I've waited this long and have not commented on the breaking of other commandments by our President... while still others can criticize me for not calling out previous presidents for their indiscretions and commandment breaking. And that would all be fair. 


But it just crossed a line for me today. It was vulgar and blasphemous. 


There is a lot to complain about in this world, and much of it is on show right now. I am questioning my pastoring, shepherding, and asking God what is required of me in such a time as this. 


And no matter your "tribe", or who you voted for... I ask for your prayers for wisdom, for:

  • Your Pastor
  • Your President
  • All Governors
  • Every person that posts to social media right now
  • The protestors
  • The Police
  • Families divided on these issues
  • Our black, white, and everything in between brothers and sisters... but if I may, especially our black brothers and sisters. For a while here. 
  • Plus people suffering abuse silently, still with no voice. 

This is hard, and we as Christians have a very big calling to live out. And it is vital we live it out right now. 


So... read that beautiful book, make the Word of God yours.  And may we as a congregation not simply use the Bible as a prop.