My last blog opened with this sentence: “It is increasingly fascinating to me how nearly every organization, regardless of its original motive for existing, eventually caves to some form of self-preservation as its primary function.” Near the end, I wrote: “For any organization to call itself “Christian,” it must be an organization where the care of people, love in action, the human enterprise, consistently and clearly trumps programs, policies and profit.”
I believe that Jesus’ “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:19-20 to go make disciples of all nations is a moral imperative for the Christian Church, and as a subset, a moral imperative for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If this is true, then our current system makes us responsible for the immoral use of resources to provide carbon copy systems of church governance over the same territory based on racial division.
It was obviously necessary, or at least thought to be so, at one point in American history. But now it appears, to thinking people who support racial integration, to be part of the plague of “self-preservation” as its primary function.
In Florida, there is the “Southeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists,” covering almost the exact same territory as the “Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.” For many years we “forgot” their official titles and called them the Black Conference and the White Conference!
Yes, there was a time when that was a pretty accurate and maybe a necessary reality. But today we have Southeastern Conference, which is predominantly mono-ethnic, and Florida Conference, which is exceedingly multi-ethnic.
To maintain a governance structure based on race must be a program, policy, and profit issue of the past—we must abandon self-preservation of an antiquated and wasteful system. The coming generations will find our system so egregious as to be an excuse for seeking a different or non-denominational affiliation. No matter what you call it, they are rightly embarrassed by what is still seen as a black and white governance structure.
The self-preservation of the current system, the programs, policies, and profit (financial support system) goes against the very prayer of Jesus that his people be one, and from a resource management perspective, every dollar used to support duplicate governance structures is an immoral use of funds that could better be used to fulfill the Great Commission.
Doing away with our current structures to create something new will have little effect on most of the local churches. Those which are mono-cultural will likely stay that way, and those multi-cultural ones won’t regress. But whether I have an African American or Caucasian or Hispanic Conference President should make no difference. Our unity is not in our ethnicity or nationality; our unity is in Christ. In him there is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free. If gender is irrelevant in Christ, certainly there can be no division over ethnicity. Let’s get over any paranoia and do the right thing, the moral thing. The loving care of people must drive us to alter our insane attachment to self-preservation, and the abandonment of any program, policy, or profit that stands in the way of doing the right thing.
This immoral use of resources must end.