18 April 2022  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy:

We all know that Africa has seen the most growth of any region in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the entire world. Why, then, do we see so many fewer Africans representing and speaking for the church? For example, though I know there are many African theologians, I don’t see people from here authoring our Sabbath School lessons. Often American preachers will preach series and conduct rallies in Africa, but are African preachers and leaders invited to do the same in America? 

Signed, Listening for Other Voices

Dear Listening:

Even though there are many more Adventists around the world than in North America, Seventh-day Adventism is a religion rooted by history, theological evolution, and eschatology, in America. Every one of those things you ask about above isn’t a decision of “the church” but of the General Conference, because that is the body that makes decisions having to do with international church resources and programming. 

Our leaders really do realize that this is now a world church, and in fact you will find names from many parts of the world contributing to Sabbath School lessons and other materials. But sometimes they need reminding that the folks overseas have a lot to contribute, and Aunty thanks you for reminding them.

But this relates to a deeper problem Aunty thinks should be addressed: the notion the whole church has to march together in lockstep, all studying the same things by the same people at the same time, all following identical policies and rules no matter where in the world you live. Just as Africa, our biggest field, may occasionally be left out of some of the things you’ve mentioned in your question, so here in North America we can’t ordain women because Africa doesn’t ordain women. 

When you insist everyone “follow the leader” you risk being an inflexible, culturally-insensitive church. I think our church leaders are learning. But thank you for reminding them—and us.


Aunt Sevvy

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