NAD: Reframing the Past, Planning for the Future
9 November 2022
The Past: Doctrine of Discovery
When Christopher Columbus claimed the New World for Spain, he did so under “terra nullius” (Latin: empty land), which would later become the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery. Except, of course, the land wasn’t empty at all. Codified in 1823, by the U.S. Supreme Court, the discovery doctrine became federal law, which has been used as recently as 2005.
So, why did the Adventist church talk about it at this year’s North American Division (NAD) Year-End meetings? On Tuesday, November 1, Bettina Krause (Special Assistant to the President for Global Initiatives) explained what many are not taught in school. The papal influence and religious undertones of the doctrine stated non-Christians were collateral and they should be conquered, literally, for Christ. At this time, the church is hoping to build better bridges between “our brothers and sisters native to this land” and those who “immigrated here,” as NAD President G Alexander Bryant explained. A committee has been created to draft a statement against the doctrine of discovery. There was some concern over having only one First Nations representative on the committee to craft the statement, but the NAD was quick to point out the names on the list were the chairs of other committees, and those committees had more native voices in them.
The Future: Online Church
On Sunday afternoon (Oct 30), delegates discussed how online streaming and zoom Sabbath schools had been a necessity during the pandemic, but now hybrid churches are here to stay. Some suggested it might impact whom we hire, as it may be important to bring in Christian influencers trained for social media. It was also pointed out that membership, in its traditional sense, is not as important to young people and different metrics should be adopted.
The recommendations sent to committee on Tuesday:
- We must have both in-person and online, digital hybrid churches and establish best practices in both areas that allow us to truly be the church that is engaged, that is serving others with our spiritual gifts, that is missional, and that involves healthy communities of faith.
- Embrace the digital church strategically and with intentionality (assumption: under a conference or local church – accountability) both the streaming of current models and fully digital congregations.
- Educate and create guidelines that standardize membership, tithing, online attendance, and mission for online churches.
- Pastors and members need to look at ways of engaging each other and guests online to meet the pastoral, social, and other needs of those they serve because online church must be more than just preaching and church service on Sabbath.
The Future: eAdventist Database
Brian Ford explained the purpose and future of eAdventist, the online membership database designed to streamline church records and sharing information between organizations and levels. Ford addressed privacy concerns by stating member data belongs to the local churches’ conferences, with limited union access, and accounts cannot be shared (such as a member record transfer) without authorization from a pastor or conference officer.
As of last year, we now have access to our own personal data through the MyEAdventist App. A member can opt out of mailings by Adventist third party ministries, can mark their phone numbers and their email and physical addresses confidential, and can choose whether to be included in a printed and/or app version of their church directory.
Image: Screen shot from the NAD live stream of Bettina Krause, Special Assistant to the President for Global Initiatives, speaking on Tuesday morning, Nov 1.