REGIONAL LEADERSHIP RESPONSE TO ANNUAL COUNCIL
The nine Regional Conference leaders confirm our commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Third Angel’s Message.
We believe strongly that the Third Angel’s Message gives clear evidence of the liberating power of the Word of God and that it frees man from the bondage of sin, including the sin of ignoring the social injustices that exist in our world, specifically in America.
We cannot and should not ignore the plight of the disenfranchised, homeless, immigrants, women and children, and the poor, of black, white, and brown who are in the richest country on earth.
Regional leaders do not condone, under any circumstances, any attempt to silence or demoralize any who seek to follow in the footsteps of the Savior who spoke on the issues of social injustice—“If you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). It is the Gospel of love that demands we speak from the pulpit to the streets and from the streets to anywhere where injustice is tolerated, and to be a voice for those who have no voice.
Regional Conferences welcome and embrace all people regardless of race, creed, color, language, and nationality.
We understand that there are differences in our approach to worship based on culture and life experiences, but we affirm worship that comes from a genuine heart that is directed toward God and that does not violate authentic Bible principles.
Regional Conferences will continue to embrace the Church and are more than ever committed to its mission and to speak to the injustices. We will continue to follow the example of Jesus and will not be muted in the face of injustice wherever it appears. We encourage our members and workers not to allow anything to distract us from our mission to the least of these.
Regional Conferences are stronger and more relevant than ever, and we extend an invitation to all to reconnect and recommit ourselves for the cause and advancement of the Regional work. The struggle that we face is real and still exists in this Great Controversy, but we are determined and will not equivocate from our purpose and goal to preach the Gospel and to lift up the downtrodden out of the pit of injustice.
The Regional Presidents Council:
Henry J. Fordham, III, Allegheny E | William Cox, Allegheny W | Roger Bernard, Central States | R. Clifford Jones, Lake Region | Daniel Honoré, Northeastern | Bill Winston, South Atlantic | Benjamin Jones, South Central | Gregory O. Mack, Southeastern | Calvin L. Watkins, Southwest | Virgil Childs, Pacific Union | Byron Dulan, North Pacific Union | Dana C. Edmond, Office for Regional Conference Ministry
Black Leadership Meets with General Conference President
On October the 16th, a special private meeting was held with Elder Ted Wilson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, in Battle Creek, Michigan, at Annual Council, with the sole purpose of expressing our disappointment at his statements that were made during his Sabbath presentation concerning social justice and worship. Regional Presidents felt the statements were insensitive and defamatory and appeared to be directed toward Regional Conferences.
Elder Roger Bernard, President of Central States Conference, and Elder Calvin Watkins, President of Southwest Region Conference, expressed the sentiments of the Regional Leadership firmly but respectfully. Elder Wilson listened graciously and responded positively. We feel that he recognized that he could have found a better way of expressing what he was trying to say. He made it clear to us that he supports social justice and was sorry that he had not expressed himself more clearly and caused such a misunderstanding. We suggested to him that he do all he can to address this issue to the World Church and to our Constituents to correct the misconception. He agreed, and on October the 16th, three hours after our meeting, he went before the World Church and clarified his remarks and stated that he supports social justice in no uncertain terms. We thank Elder Wilson for hearing and responding to our concerns.
We asked for another meeting with him, and he graciously gave us three dates that he would meet with the nine Regional Presidents, with a four-hour block of time. We are grateful for the time we spent with our Church World Leader and look forward to continuing the dialogue next month. Feel free to read the Regional Conference Leadership Response to this issue.