We at Portland Adventist Academy share and reiterate the Oregon Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Statement on Racial Justice as well as those of the North Pacific Union Conference and the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (see the full statements below our own).
UPDATE: PAA’s specific actions to racial justice and restoration commitment can be seen HERE.
We are devastated by yet another senseless killing; the killing of George Floyd, a precious, beloved child of God. As we reflect on the hurt and pain we are feeling, we know our children are profoundly impacted.
We commit to doing our part to eradicate hate, condemn violence, and stand up to acts of racism; living out Christ’s command to “love our neighbor as yourself.” Love includes honoring, respecting, and supporting one another’s race, culture, and experiences, as well as demanding justice and safety for all, especially those who experience daily systemic discrimination and oppression.
We commit to creating opportunities and spaces for open, difficult, uncomfortable conversations to talk through this. We commit to educating ourselves as a staff so we can ensure we create safe spaces for all of our students.
We cannot do this alone. We ask every member of our greater community to take the initiative to learn about the lives and experiences of minorities and to have the tough conversations necessary to bring greater awareness, understanding, and change.
To our students, we ask if you are feeling unsafe or have questions, please reach out to a trusted adult. Each of our staff members are here to help you, protect you, and care for you. We commit to providing a safe, honoring space for you.
We pray to live and be God’s heart and hands and feet, and do all within our authority to eradicate acts of violence, hatred and racism in our community, creating an environment where every student feels safety, belonging, inclusion, and love.
– Portland Adventist Academy Administration
Mechelle Peinado, Principal
Drechelle McCray, Vice Principal of Administration Darcie Hordofa, Vice Principal of Finance
P.S. PAA posted a follow up commitment and action plan on June 8th. Read that HERE.
The Oregon Conference of theSeventh-day Adventist Church joins the chorus of voices to lift up the memory of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and the multitude of other black brothers and sisters whose lives were taken by unjust racially-influenced violence. We join the outcry for justice and raise our voice to stand in support of all of our brothers and sisters who continue to live in an oppressive shadow of racially-derived mistrust, fear and abuse by the dominant society.
The Bible proclaims:
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them” Genesis 1:27 (NewInternational Version). On this foundation, we believe that all humans are created equal to live in harmony and peace together.
We understand that the grand narrative of our Scriptures reveals a great controversy between good and evil in our world, which is apparent in the devaluation and harming of others and beckons us back to divine love and goodness. We denounce the evil of racism in all forms, and we denounce the injustice of systemic racism and classism. We support those who peacefully protest injustice and demonstrate non-violent actions to advance equality. Yet, we are pained by acts of violence, riots and destruction that bring harm to the cities and country we love.
We all need to be part of real solutions and strategic actions to address systemic racism and prejudice. We all must take substantive steps toward racial equality. For us, that starts with listening carefully to our minority brothers and sisters, learning from their experiences and taking steps together toward a more just society.
We have much to learn, but we know that the way forward includes practicing Jesus’ teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:39, (New International Version).
We call on every Seventh-day Adventist Christian in our territory to prayerfully live out this greatest commandment so that we may be agents of change, instruments of peace, and catalysts of healing in our society.
Together, we can find better solutions to helping all people in our territory achieve hope, healing and wholeness.
The horrific death of George Floyd rocked our nation to the core. In this moment of national mourning and outrage, our hearts are broken with pain, anger and sorrow. Tragically, this isn’t an isolated death. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others bear witness to centuries of injustice to blacks and many others.
The North Pacific Union is committed to standing with all who feel threatened and vulnerable in the face of oppression. The teachings of Jesus compel us to recognize the value and equality of every person. We pledge to advance the mission of sharing hope and wholeness throughout our Northwest churches and communities by fostering an honest climate of respect where no one is valued above another.
As we seek change, let’s listen before we speak. Let’s understand the honest needs before we act. Throughout the journey ahead, we must lift our voices to help eliminate the pain and suffering caused by racism and prejudice. In our homes. In our social circles. In our church. In our community.
We acknowledge our apathy and complicity in not conscientiously addressing issues of systemic racial discrimination and exclusion in the past. We are sorry for the hurt and frustration our inaction and collective silence have caused within the family of God and the wider community. As God’s light in a dark world, we can and must do better in the future.
The tragedies before us are deeply discouraging, and yet we have the opportunity to stand together in this time of sorrow and loss. Together we can embrace the beauty and incredible value of black lives and all people of color who have suffered unjust persecution and oppression for far too long. Today we can embody God’s inestimable value for all humanity that He so beautifully expresses in Micah 6:8.
“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Yours in grace, John Freedman North Pacific Union Conference president
My dear fellow Seventh-day Adventists, members of the church throughout North America, and our division,
For the past 10 years it has been my privilege and blessing to serve as your president. It has been an invigorating and challenging road, and one where God has blessed us, and where your faithful commitment to Him has allowed the church in our division to carry out His mission.
This has been especially true in these days of COVID-19 where your faithfulness has been magnificent. In a few days now I will cease my role as your president, but I want you to know that I am proud of what God has accomplished through you.
The reason that I am coming to you today, however, is different. Like many of you, I am heartbroken as a result of the wanton and hateful violence that led to the death of George Floyd. One cannot describe this in any other way than what it is: a horrible illustration of what happens when men feel that they are superior to others. This thinking allows racism and prejudice to grow. It provides the fuel that powers hatred and murder. This incident, furthermore, is one of a series of actions perpetrated against blacks in America. Together, these experiences leads us all to question the guarantees of freedom and justice enshrined in the constitutions of the nations that make up our division.
To my African American brothers and sisters, I want you to know that I am deeply sorry. I am saddened that you have experienced prejudice and bigotry — even in the church — and that there have been times when you were not allowed eat in the same cafeteria or go to the same washroom as whites. I am deeply sorry that you have experienced these things. As a white man I know little of your suffering, but I suffer with you today as you look out at a future that seems uncertain. It is wrong that you should live with fear because of your color. I am sorry. Together with hundreds of thousands of other white people I want to say to you: “I love you — you are my flesh and blood in Jesus.”
To all of our members I say that if we are truly Christians we who know ourselves to be Seventh-day Adventists will demonstrate God’s love. One of Jesus’ great statements was and is, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples in that you have love one for the other” [John 13:35, sic]. It is the litmus test for Christians. If we disdain and denigrate others on the basis of race, gender, economic status, etc., then we are not Christians. We may have a name but, in this regard, it is only a flimsy robe that we garb ourselves in — in order to maintain our self-satisfied superiority.
It is time for us all to do some soul searching. If David could appeal to God to search him in order to see if there was “any wicked way in him,” it is our time to do the same. In this regard our family needs a radical change. Our church needs transformation: If change is to take place in the church then it needs to take place first in me.
It is not OK to tolerate or propagate racial slurs, to laugh at jokes that target others because of their status, etc. Furthermore, it isn’t appropriate for us to remain silent when others suffer, are victimized and marginalized. The gospel of Jesus Christ is active. It is not passive. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal. … In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Many have asked in recent days: “What should we do? How should we act?” Well, it is not mine — nor is it in the capacity of the church to dictate to you what you should or should not do in this time of crisis. However, our guidance should be based upon the life and teachings of Jesus. Whatever will bring dignity, and reform, and blessing to others — whatever will demonstrate true love to a broken and battered world — whatever will bring others to look to God — do these things as you are personally guided by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, my friends, let it be clearly recognized that the work of God on this planet will not be finished — I repeat — will not be finished until we, as a people, connect with God in such a way that we will be instruments in His hands to demonstrate His love.
No program or busy-work will solve the problems of the church as important as they may seem. We must go to our knees and ask God to make us His agents in order to demonstrate His love. Then our programs and objectives will take on a new meaning.
I want to remind us all of the words of one of our founding leaders, Ellen White, who said, “From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church will be made manifest — even to principalities and powers in the heavenly places the final and the full display of the love of God” [The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9, sic]. That is our mission. It must infiltrate our words and every aspect of our work. It must be clearly seen in our voted actions and interactions. Then and only then will the church have fulfilled her mission.
God has a dream. His dream is that one day, at a grand table spread out in heaven, seated next to each other and across from each other, will be men and women, young people, boys and girls, from every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe and people. That they will fellowship together in His presence and that the harmony of those moments will go on through the ceaseless ages of eternity. God wants the table experience to start now in your heart and mine.
May God bless each of us. I pray that His Holy Presence will guide you today, and in each day to come. We are living in the final days of human history. Let us stand tall for the God who called us to be His children — His witnesses, every one of us.
— Daniel R. Jackson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America; this is taken from the transcript of Jackson’s full message HERE.