That said, while supporting our local conferences, hospitals and schools and university through the COVID-19 crisis, the Lake Union officers are exploring new ways to address the needs of the underserved of every people group who cannot afford technology necessary for distance learning and also currently prayerfully entering into the early planning stages of hosting a Diversity Summit.
Moving forward, as the official birthplace of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and stewards of the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus Christ has committed into our hands to reconcile man to both God and each other, we are committed to be conduits of Christ-like behavior and catalysts for change as we pray regularly and take actions to undergird three Lake Union executive committee strategies of leadership development, discipleship training and starting a movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches and communities in this quinquennium. We will continue to engage the Adventist faith community by continuing to resource our local conferences and schools, and engaging and encouraging our health systems to continue to hire employees of diverse backgrounds, especially those persons of African descent who are sparsely represented at the leadership level of our multiple health systems.
Because love for all mankind has been a historic hallmark of Adventism, rooted in the call of the Three Angels of Revelation 14’s global call to people of every nation, kindred, tongue and people to serve the Lord, this is the reason why we have been declared the church with the greatest diversity in the United States. As a result of our global calling, now in faraway lands in the spirit of the Morning Star’s epic and courageous journeys, cutting a wake through sea and sky there are many boats, ships and aircraft filled with courageous young adults and the young-at-heart who desire to dare risk breaching new unreached territories across the globe while we here at home still work to plant churches and, like Edson, teach immigrant groups ESL (English as a Second Language) in towns off the beaten path, planting the flag of salvation in the hearts one person at a time in our region.
In the book of Revelation, the call “out of Babylon” is not just a call from physical enslavement, but freedom in Christ. Freedom that comes from knowing we are all children of God. It is a call from God Himself for all mankind to be emancipated from Babylon as God refers to every people group on planet earth as “My people.” (Rev 18:4) Racism is part of the confusion that Babylon has sown and also reaped. Everywhere Lucifer went, he sowed not division, but confusion and division was its result. It started in heaven, it advanced to the earth in Eden. And now it is everywhere in the world today. We are stratified, even within our own ethnic groups. Racism, too, is divisive in nature causing confusion, even amongst God’s remnant people and division is the result. Therefore, the Lake Union will continue our work to unite under the flag of fidelity to God for as we work to unite institutions, we will also work to unite the people of God, as this is our calling as brothers and sister in Christ and it therefore, must remain a key aspect of our strategy. If we don’t appreciate each other who share the same world view, belief system and institutions that have brought us thus far on our way, it will be well-nigh impossible to reach those not who do not wear the Adventist name and world view of the Great Controversy where Heaven itself was confused and divided by an enemy, as they are more different from us than we are from each other.
Possibly, a greater impact of bigotry in all its forms — be it against others socially, mentally, or physically challenged or disadvantaged, is that every time we look down at others for whatever reason we contrive, we are distracted from the mission of Jesus Who looked down only briefly to lift people up (Mark 5:41). Winning and retaining disciples for Jesus must remain our highest aim. Those with whom we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ will receive but a very dim, even distorted view of who God is, if we share the Good News while maintaining our cultural biases and our sin-sick natural tendency of feeling superior toward others. New souls will not only be harder to win, but harder to keep as God’s love for all mankind will not be in full display before them. Although we are all made in the image of God, we are although very much alike. Our likenesses should be valued as children of God. But our differences can be made to be our strength also, as perspectives from the vantage point of every individual makes us stronger and, inevitably, at the decision-making level, if appreciated, can bring exponentially better outcomes than those advanced by one culture, people group or ethnicity. Our commonality is demonstrated most by our equal and inestimable value as best illustrated by the Cross. Yet our different ways of solving problems leads to more thorough and thoughtful outcomes. But whether our perspective is accepted or rejected, like Edson, we must never lose sight of the Cross where the ground is level as all stand there, painted with the stripe of sin and are all, therefore, equally desperate for an encounter with Christ.
Consequently, from the disabled to the disenfranchised, addressing inequity in every realm for those disadvantaged for any reason or by any cause is not a programmatic shift for the Lake Union. It is that for which we have been quietly advocating all along as it is part of the ministry Christ has committed into our hands as those charged with reflecting His example and as stewards of the Lake Union Conference legacy. Therefore, we are grateful for the many institutions; schools, conferences, health systems, and other entities in our region and beyond who have allowed us the privilege to speak to this vital topic of discussion, even before recent events transpired. We remain available to share again and again the wonderful words of life that each individual should hear with the hope that we, too, can together experience personal and corporate revival and reformation. Revival will remove hatred from our hearts for anyone created in the image of God. Reformation will cause us to take measures we have not formally taken to be voices for those less fortunate than we are, whatever the reason. Our hope is that we will all embrace the words of Jesus, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Is. 58:6).
Ultimately, it is our hope that all bias or bigotry on the part of all individuals, regardless of ethnicity or class, ability or disability, age or gender, past or present, will be set aside for, as we get to know Jesus, we will hopefully better see, as was the case for Ellen and Edson White and many other pioneers of our faith saw, that the study of His life changes ours.
This is a critical need of our church as a new generation has arrived who reflect the same spirit of our Adventist pioneers who also were way ahead of their time relative to race relations. Similarly, our young adults and youth find these issues critical to the practice of their faith. When they see a church unwilling to love all classes and kinds of people, to them it appears hypocritical and diametrically opposed to the example of the Jesus we profess to follow Who came to save all mankind. He looked down from the battlements of heaven and seeing our despair came to lift us from our lost state. Let us set the pace for this new generation as Ellen did for her firstborn son Edson, and as members of the Lake Union Conference, let’s continue its longstanding concerted effort to address this and other issues regardless of current events as revival and reformation will never take place if love is not within our hearts for our fellow man. I close with my favorite quotation of from Ellen White:
A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.
God says the same thing in fewer words when He says to us,
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.