21 October 2020 |
Back-to-back letters on October 18 from the leaders of the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) and the leaders of the Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside, California, confirm the dismissal of two pastors: the senior pastor, Michael Kelly, and associate pastor Rebecca Davis. The letters, originally posted on social media, have since been removed.
Mt. Rubidoux is the largest black church in the conference, with around 1,700 members, according to the Adventist Yearbook. Michael Kelly was, according to one source, “a celebrity pastor” in the African American community.
No explanation has been given by official sources. The SECC letter only mentions Elder Kelly, saying that “as a result of a thorough investigation… we feel this decision is imperative.” The letter from Mt. Rubidoux leaders, signed by lay elder Diana Alexander and pastors Kyle Smith and Jeremiah Green, says that “Michael Kelly and Rebecca Davis are no longer part of the Mt. Rubidoux pastoral team,” and encourages the congregation to stand strong in the Lord. “We will be working with the conference to keep you informed every step of this journey,” they write. “For now, we are focusing on consoling one another, communicating all we can, and continuing the work of ministry.”
The SECC letter advises that “It is the practice of Southeastern California Conference to not comment publicly on personnel issues. We request that you respect the privacy of all persons impacted by this situation as we collectively pray for your church community.”