Adventists Respond to the Death of Nelson Mandela
by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, December 8, 2013
Updated December 16 and December 20
Friday (December 7) Pastor Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, released a statement in response to the death of Nelson Mandela. The denomination "joins the people of South Africa and the world in mourning the loss," he said. Mandela's "life of forgiveness and reconciliation served as a light in a world that too often lives in the shadow of reprisal, anger and malice."
“May all reflect on his important efforts to bring people together in peace," statement continued. "What a joy that we can also be part of that process as we are reconciled to God and each other by the grace of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace. We offer our sympathy and condolences to the Mandela family and th-e citizens of South Africa.”
Many Adventist pastors mentioned the event during Sabbath services. For example, Pastor Jimmy Ferguson at the Devonshire Church in Bermuda told the congregation, "We join people of genuine goodwill around the world in celebrating the memory of Nelson Mandela. I find it fascinating at this defining moment in the history of our world, with the whole of 20th century race relations in view; that the most memorable man on the planet today and the most powerful man on the planet today are both of African descent. … One in four Christians on the planet today lives in Sub-Saharan Africa."
The Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, Florida, flew the flag on campus at half-mast, although no special events are planned. At Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, a history department convocation on Thursday will focus on Mandela, a faculty member told Adventist Today.
It is exam week at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, and some students have already left school for the holidays, but there was a moment of silence on Saturday night remember Mandela during the last basketball game of the year (against Cumberland College). This week the 34th Annual Pastoral and Evangelism Council is meeting on campus and Mandela has been noted by several speakers. This is the largest yearly gathering of African American clergy in the Adventist denomination's North American Division.
Dr. Ben Carson, renowned Adventist neurosurgeon, was interviewed on Fox News television regarding Mandela's legacy and the lessons we can learn from his life. Carson said that Mandela teaches us that "we are not enemies. If we use our collective, skills, intellect and compassion together amazing things can be done."
Walla Walla University flew the American flag on campus at half mast in honor of Mandela through the evening of December 9. Dr. N. E. Andreason, the president of Andrews University, issued the following statement: "The people of South Africa are mourning the death of Nelson Mandela [and] we too should mark that event with deep appreciation for his life and the example he set for us all, indeed he belonged to the whole human family. We all learned from him, and we will all miss him. His understanding of freedom for all people, human dignity, truth and reconciliation, forgiveness and acceptance is exemplary and overpowering and places great ethical demands upon every person alive today. Some years ago I read his biography, Long Walk to Freedom, and at the same time was able to visit Robben Island where he was held a political prisoner for decades. It taught me that such human giants as he was are both born to greatness and made great by circumstances in life. Mandela combined the gifts God gave him at birth with the circumstances of his life and times and turned them into a powerful influence for good in his country, in Africa and in the world."
Adventist Today continues to gather information from Adventist churches, institutions and groups. The editors are interested in hearing from readers about activities or responses related to this historic event.