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I have just finished reading Dr Koranteng-Pimpim's book "Must We Be Silent?" and learnt with some disappointment that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is segregated along racial lines in the North American Division. We have 'black' and 'white' Conferences. One of the reasons for this he said is because white and black people feel "uncomfortable" worshipping together in the same premise. Will we have seperate heavens for black and white when the Lord comes to take His redeemed homw? What do you think of this arrangement?

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There are cultural divisions, racial divisions, class divisions, and age divisions among our churches here in North America, and specifically in the United States. While there is an extensive history to why things are the way they are, my dream is that we as a church will take a stand to demonstrate to the world what it means to live out Galatians 3:28 - to really be united in Christ. So what do I think? I think we perpetuate the problem. Not too long ago (I think in the late 1980s) on of our pastors was told by a church in a different conference that his church was down the road. The pastor was a black man going to attend a church predominately attended by white persons. Again - we perpetuate the problem, and every race and culture contrubutes to the problem IMO.
I think that it's ridiculous! When people can't look past the physical attributes of a person then they can't see the heart of Jesus within them. Which is also a sign that they don't have the Spirit of Christ within them either because Jesus loves us all no matter what the color of our skin is.

I know that there are people that have preferred styles of worship but that shouldn't ever keep us from worshipping together. Worship isn't a style it's a lifestyle! I live in the North American Division where the services I attend are predominately caucasian people but there are black people as well. I personally believe that if we're all loving the same Creator on His holy day then that's all we should be focusing on, not the kind of music or songs being played!
As far as I know, the separate conferences are due to the desires of blacks to have their own conferences and churches. I have never known blacks to be unwelcome in an Adventist church. My father was the pastor of a church in Tennessee and half the members were white and half were black, and there were no racial problems at all. That was near the banks of the Tennessee River, near the border with Mississippi.

I would suggest doing some studying of the history of the conferences in the United States. Those separate conferences are not being forced on black members. They are free to worship and be a member of any church they want to be. They could vote to do away with the black conferences but have not chosen to do that.

Is there racism in the Adventist church. Almost certainly, just as there is racism in almost every part of the world. But I don't believe it is institutionalized or reflected in the fact that there are black conferences.
Jim there is an entire documented history behind racially divided churches and conferences in the United States. Please do not trivialize the issue by claiming that it is as you stated, "due to the desires of blacks to have their own conferences and churches".

The decision to move toward separate conferences was due to a refusal of the status quo to be inclusive.

SEPARATE BLACK AND WHITE CONFERENCES—Part 1 by Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD -This article will give you a good overview of the issue.

Here is a Bibliography of the history of African-Americans in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for further study. -

This is just to begin. You may also search the Ellen G. White Estate to get an understanding of this history. I already gave a story in my first comment that indicates that as recent as the late 1980s at least one black pastor was told that his church was down the road. I could tell other more recent examples, but this one has always stood out as a really bad one. To make this issue seem like it was created and solely maintained by Black people is just inaccurate.

I will agree with you on one thing. Now that we have had decades of evangelism via these "Black" conferences, we who are in these conferences have become accustomed to the corporate culture of our conferences. There is great reluctance to dismantle the separate system. From what I can tell (I am saying this as a member in a "predominantly black church" of one of the so called, "black conferences") this reluctance is demonstrated on both sides. One Bible worker who has been instrumental in giving and training people to give Bible Studies actually said that the goal of a conference (shall remain nameless) was to start a "white church" in our area. He said it without malice - not even realizing how anti-Christian and how hurtful his words were. Fortunately we were able to speak about this. These were not even his words, as he was a Bible worker imported from another part of the country - he said this is what he was told by conference heads and that he is still learning about how we were structured. I am happy to say that, as a result of his efforts and others like him, the other church that has begun down the road from mine, is not a "white mission", its just a church of people who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My point is that racism has existed and continues to exist in our church. We did not simply choose to be separate - we were being subjected to discrimination.
More Pipim Articles on this issue




Thanks Sheba for your informed contributions on the subject and especially the links provided. For me it offers a lot more insight into the problem.

I think the issue is not whether blacks or whites want to maintain the status quo or whether it is that way because blacks have not voted to opt out of it.

The issue for me is simply the fact that, we are one family in Christ regardless of skin colour and someday, if only we believe in a new heaven, we will all have to live as one. I don't see that happening if we cannot start here on earth.

I am glad we are talking about it. We must not indeed be silent on the real issues that define our identity as Christians and Seventh-day Adventists.
All I know is that the blacks I talk to want to keep their conferences. The black conferences could vote to end them. There are probably more people of color now than caucasians in the church, so it seems to me that things could change in terms of the conferences if enough people want them to.
I think that it is disingenuous to state simply that "the blacks could vote to end them". There is a reason for reluctance on both sides. Many people in these conferences still do not feel "at home" when visiting so-called white churches. Many have had bad expereinces in this decade. Many are just addicted to their culture and refuse to mix (I believe that you have already spoken to this crew). There is racism right now in our church. On the other hand, there are people from "white churches" that do not feel comfortable worshipping in a predominantly black church.

Also, ending separate conferences will not end black and white churches on a wide scale. Some of this is do to geography and some of this is due to preference of cultural factors (language, food, music, etc.) People will gather where they feel most at home. A person may feel at ease visiting any church but may not necessairily want to be come a regular member of any church.
What do you mean by "racism"? Do you mean the same as racial prejudice? Or do you mean institutionalized racism?

I didn't mean to imply there are not complex issues involved in changing the conferences. I simply mean that if enough people want to change it, they could do it by voting to do away with them.

I don't think it would be a good idea to end black and white churches per se. The gospel does not do away with all of the differences you mentioned. The gospel should do away with prejudices, etc., but just because you are a Christian doesn't mean God does away with all differences between races, etc.

We're in fundamental agreement on these things.
"What do you mean by "racism"? Do you mean the same as racial prejudice? Or do you mean institutionalized racism?"


Thanks for clarifying - I see what you are saying.
I feel free to attend and be a member of any Adventist church I want. We have black members in our local church-- he's been the head elder-- and I know whites who go to a predominately black church and feel welcome there.

I know there are issues that are beyond this, but it is not as if prejudice and racism is something you often see in the SDA church. I have been in fairly close association with the Adventist church for about 50 years, and while I have seen some things that are wrong, I wouldn't call it racism as such. (I myself am married to a person of color and my children are biracial.)

Thanks very much for the links. I agree with most everything I've read by Pipim, particularly his book Receiving the Word.
Even if there is racial divide among us, which might be largely overblown anyway, what is the underlying cause? Its way easier to say there is, than to actually pinpoint a reason. I am yet to hear a reason.

Is it that blacks are being hated by whites deliberately, or is it a case that whites have a different way of worshiping than blacks do. Culture clashes can often be perceived to be what they are not.


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