Conclusion of an 8-part series
By Cleran Hollancid, June 12, 2017: So are you ready to come to the table? I offer some beginning steps on the path to addressing the problem, before the subject of the actual segregated structure can even be broached; though I don’t proclaim it to be exhaustive. First of all, I reiterate (for we can’t stress this enough) we have to unconditionally surrender ourselves to God, deny ourselves and allow Him to perform surgery. Short of that critical step, it simply won’t work. For it is only then that all material endowments like salary, retirement package, positions of power, conference or church employment, etc., will dim and lose their value. They will cease to be stumbling blocks in light of what God has been patiently waiting to impress upon the heart, while the church waves its hands in the face of God, declaring “No, you can’t intervene; it’s too complicated.” And yet the church unabashedly sings, “What a mighty God we serve …!”
Then people must also be reeducated as to what race is not, as stressed and divulged in this article. It is an absolutely critical key to success, otherwise you will be right back in the mire from whence you came. Adventists, like others, find it rather hard to see someone as just another part of God’s creation – all members of the same family, without going through the avenue of skin-color, which is relationally meaningless. It’s not like you had a predetermined choice as to what your color or culture would be. Don’t fall for the propaganda. It’s a lie straight from hell, yet the world falls for this nonsense.
Some even try to push pathetic fables such as: God made the races to live apart, or they were meant to live on different continents without interacting with each other. But what’s not so obvious, is the sad fact that people carry around all sorts of prejudices with respect to race, including, but not limited to, the manner in which they link it to intelligence, laziness, aptitude, and even accent and the way one speaks. In other words, one may have a bias and be prejudiced against someone else because s/he is some particular color and speaks or sounds differently. May the Lord anoint our minds that we may discern, our hearts that we may care, and our eyes with eye-salve that we may be able to see.
The more we emphasize skin color under the rubric of “celebrate your differences,” the more we continue to build up the very barriers that we are apprehensively trying to eradicate. It is from that standpoint, believe it or not, that skin color can even become one’s god whether inside or outside the church.
Further, I expound a little on the following acronym, SARC HEAL, that would offer some food for thought in approaching and addressing this matter. This coinage essentially indicates or annunciates a healing of the flesh, insofar as it pertains to a mending of sullied interpersonal relations; solemn considerations for repairing the breach if you please. The ‘sarc’ portion is derived from the Greek word sarkinos or sarx, meaning ‘fleshly,’ or ‘flesh’ respectively. Thus, in the meanings issued below, the primary component is seen as an elucidation of ‘sarc,’ while the second portion, ‘heal,’ is ancillary in scope, but of equally vital import nonetheless.
S – Submit. All parties must, first and foremost, submit fully to the incalculable power of God.
A – Admit. The relevant parties must admit, then ask for forgiveness from Blacks and all those whom they’ve actively, passively or indirectly wronged, injured, and oppressed.
R – Reconciliation. There must be true reconciliation, i.e., all parties who have been wronged should wholeheartedly embrace the forgiveness of the perpetrators or penitent ones; at this point everyone should be forgiving everyone; but the deal is not quite done yet, which brings us to the next step.
C – Commitment: for genuine and lasting reconciliation to take shape, everyone must commit by the grace of God to stick to the harmony, otherwise all will be brought back to square one.
H – Hug. Hold up. Hug each other and hold up each other’s hand.
E – Elevate each other in prayer and thanksgiving; but besides the spiritual aspects, let us open
our hearts and houses to truly let each other in.
A – Appreciate each other; show/give each other tokens of appreciation, revealing more
evidence of the converted and consecrated heart.
L – Love. And then altogether ‘LOVE’ as God would have you love; not in vain words and empty
themes, but in deed and in truth, marked by a heart washed in his grace and mercy.
Let’s not be afraid to love each other through the power of God and His grace, while it can still be found. God has indeed been faithful and given us enough to overcome; yet many slight his matchless grace and instead insist on their own way forward, acting as if time is on their side. But where has a stubborn and prideful heart gotten you? For when all is said and done, a genuine, cheerful and courageous heart goes a long way to averting the thick blight of darkness that allows the forces of evil to take up residence.
There are other issues to tackle, where the rubber meets the road. That’s why I particularly place emphasis on genuineness and deeds, rather than mere talk. Part of what some are calling a problem is the thinking which says that if the whole North American Division were to be restructured to disallow racial barriers or a racialized structure, for example, and allow for true equity, consolidation has to take place; and that means a loss of jobs, position, property, pride, and so forth. The real response to that is it takes faith. Either one believes that we serve a mighty God who will or has already provided a way, or we continue doubting his power, while claiming to believe in him. Faith, as you know, brings character development. But some treat God like a novice, and act as if he has to prove that he can move a mountain.
So here is the clarion call: to believe or not to believe, to move or not to move.
All must take individual stock of whatever part they may have to play in divisive (racial) maintenance; for no doubt, it is an unnecessary evil. Don’t exclude yourself. The problem is that we ourselves are or can be the most incorrigible barriers to genuine unity. But individual people make up the system; and whether or not it has to do with subtle prejudiced attitudes, idiosyncrasies of financial structures for Blacks, Whites and ‘other,’ or members and church leadership getting disgruntled over power-sharing, there’s always something blocking the path to progress. As such, we need to be sure that we ourselves are not part of the junk that’s blocking the entrance to a truly united fellowship. Thus, where we go from here really depends, not merely upon how conscientious one is, but on how much one allows God to work on his/her heart, taking full control, leading to concrete steps and unimaginable places that spell a new vibrancy, and prove invigorating to the soul.
So now we’ve begun to tug at the real roots of the tree: race, segregation, discrimination and prejudice, and no one said it will be pretty or easy. However, it is not as complex as some make it out to be. All it takes is a willing and ready heart. “Here am I, oh Lord, have your way, for I am wayward and blind.” That’s it. You’ll be absolutely amazed at what the Lord can do with a surrendered heart. Step out of your comfort zone; stand aside, watch and learn how God does it, while men and women complain, “It’s too difficult.”
Let the Lord hold up your hand. Call people together to a prayer and praise meeting. Let singing be heard while you hold each other’s hand high. Get rid of the fabricated lie called race by the grace of God once and for all, for we know all too well what it does to the human heart and mind. It has wrought its way among us, enslaved us all, vitiated what we can become, and has had its stranglehold on the church for far too long. It has messed up our lives so badly that we’ve arrived at the point where we are enemies of each other and don’t really know why. In a sense we have become deranged under the spell of race. Trust in a power that is infinite. Break free from the racial chains that bind you. Feel the new power surge! A new day has arrived!
Rise and shine by the grace of God. What a mighty and holy God we serve. Let freedom ring from every house and valley, from every hamlet and mountaintop, from every pulpit, from every heart! We are marching in the light of God! It is then that you will be able to assert with clear conscience – “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!!”
With contrite hearts, newfound attitudes, an entirely realigned vision, and a tidal wave of reconciliation entering the church, let the weeping be heard between the porch and the altar, from the General Conference president to the member in the pew. Don’t bother waiting for the other person to start. True revival and transformation can only sweep through where penitent hearts abide, so that a time of refreshing may be felt among the people. Pride, prejudice, racism, oppression, bigotry, divisive tactics, and segregation shall cease and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.
This is the conclusion of the series.
Cleran L. Hollancid is a life-long Adventist who belongs to a congregation in Michigan. He is a PhD candidate in the sociology of religion at Western Michigan University. His research has focused on racial segregation in the Adventist Church in the United States of America. He completed a BA in theology at Caribbean Union College, the Master of Divinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, an MA in anthropology and an MA in sociology at Wayne State University. Is an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies Program at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose of this eight-part series is to offer beginning steps toward racial reconciliation in the Adventist faith community.