Adventist Responses to Mass Shootings
On August 3, 2019, a man opened fire in an El Paso, TX Walmart, killing 20 people and injuring 26. Just hours later in Dayton, Ohio, another man opened fire in a local neighborhood killing 9 people, including his own sister, and injuring 27 others. The Texico Conference and the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists have released official statements following these recent mass shootings in their respective states. The North American Division (NAD) has also released a statement.
Texico’s statement brief’d
“We are shocked and saddened...as a lone gunman unloaded his weapon into a crowd of ‘back-to-school’ shoppers. . . .Members worshipping in Texico Churches in the El Paso area were made aware of this attack through an Emergency Alert system that erupted on every cell phone. One of our four churches was temporarily locked down and the police set up a command center in their parking lot to create a perimeter for this incident. . . .May God grant peace and hope to these families and to all the folks in El Paso...Our hearts cry out ‘even so come. Lord Jesus’!”
Ohio’s statement brief’d
“We mourn the loss of innocent lives and extend our deepest condolences and prayers for the nine people killed and at least 27 wounded or injured, their families, loved ones, and friends. . . . We offer heartfelt thanks to the Dayton Police Department and all first responders, as well as the medical community, including our own Kettering Health Network. Our prayers are also with. . .El Paso, Texas, along with our sister conference, the Texico Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”
NAD’s statement brief’d
“Acts of violence are becoming a regular occurrence, and the shock at these increasing catastrophes tragically starts to wear thin with each new event. People are hurting. People are scared. Questions are being asked, but they outnumber the answers being provided. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America empathizes with. . .the victims of the most recent acts of senseless violence that serve to divide our society. We are horrified by the cries of the hurting and scared. We long for the pain to stop and the heartache to fade away. . . .As a church, we remind all that we should love equally and resolve to serve no matter race, gender, or cultural background. And we call on each person of this land to do the same. We also pray that our elected leaders will fulfill their sworn duty to protect the citizens of this country.”
Not the border wall, different wall
Against the Wall, an organization created to educate and address issues surrounding racism and racial reconciliation within Seventh-day Adventism, has issued a call to action containing specific gun law reforms they desire, as well as a petition directed at the General Conference, the NAD, and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. This groups aims for the church to publish an official statement denouncing white supremacy and racism. In addition, Against the Wall believe it is “way past time for the church to write a theological statement on the topic of racism and take an honest, transparent look at the legacy of systemic racism which has plagued our global movement for centuries.” While there hasn’t been an official statement from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the official stance of the church since the 90s, urging for strict control of the sale of semi-automatic weapons, is still relevant today.
Word on the street is...
Within the nation and our church, people are asking the question, “How can we make this suffering end?” Many Adventists appreciate the statements from the Ohio and Texico conferences. Others, however, are left deeply unsatisfied and frustrated by the seeming lack of any follow-up action beyond the statements themselves.
ADRA Takes Lead in Supporting DCR in Wake of Ongoing Ebola Outbreak
WHO needs help?
In 2018, Ebola broke out in the country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). As of August, 2019, 1,700 people have died, 2,500 have been infected, over 165,000 have been vaccinated, and more than 300,000 have been relocated to prevent the disease from spreading farther. Various international organizations offering medical services and aid have been trying to reach the affected areas. In some cases, these aid efforts have been thwarted due to misinformation about the disease, internal rebel fighting against the local government or aid agencies, and lack of access to hospitals and other medical centers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially called the situation a “global health emergency." The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been working to address this crisis. Although there is much to be done, ADRA has decided to focus on infants and their mothers, nothing that because of the risk, affected mothers cannot breastfeed their children. ADRA plans to set up breastfeeding centers in the most affected areas and purchase breastfeeding equipment. They will also provide training to healthcare providers in the area on how to use the equipment as well as how to recognize the dangers of Ebola and establish preventive measures to ensure those trying to help are not infected, too.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International hosts 40th Annual Kampmeeting
Kamp Cumbegay 2.0
In July 2019, Seventh-day International Kinship, International hosted its 40th Kampmeeting in Portland, Oregon. This special event for LGBTQ+ Adventists, families, and allies includes worship, fellowship, and sharing. This year, its 80 attendees and speakers included Angel Rivero, a M.Div student at Pacific School of Religion and candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church, John McLarty, pastor and former editor of Adventist Today, Dr. Sylvia Rhue, PhD, a psychologist and social worker, and Dr. Bryan Ness, PhD, a biology and genetics professor at Pacific Union College. Founded in the 70s (with first meetings in 1980), Kinship serves LGBTQ+ individuals, whether they identify as current or former SDAs, as well as their families friends. Their goal is to love and serve the LGBTQ+ community while also bringing positive awareness of the LGBTQ+ Adventist community to Adventists around the world.
The Scratch Teams Up with Oshkosh
Oshkosh B’Gettin that music
As the International Pathfinder Camporee at Oshkosh begins on Tuesday, August 12, The Scratch has teamed up with Sitler and Strong Productions to send Pathfinders each night’s music via text message. For the first time ever, Pathfinders will be able to stream the music directly to their devices as they walk back to their campsites. Fans of Sitler and Strong’s nightly productions (which include the stories of Daniel, Esther, and Joseph) can register at www.camporeemusic.com to join the list and be entered into a giveaway to win the exclusive "David’s Harp" from the producers of Chosen.
Contributors: Ryan Becker, Kevin Christenson, Ben Curet, and Juan Mora
Editors: Ryan Becker, Kevin Christenson, Jill Evans