From Thursday, Oct. 14, to Saturday, Oct. 16, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University will host... read more >
Congress on Social Justice
From Thursday, Oct. 14, to Saturday, Oct. 16, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University will host the Congress on Social Justice, an event designed to highlight global issues of imbalance as well as the biblical solutions that address them.
The biblical account of Creation informs us that humanity was created in God’s image and granted authority to rule over other animate beings that God created during the fifth and sixth days of that first week (Genesis 1:26–28). God also authorized humanity to take care of other elements of His creation (Genesis 2:15). Unfortunately, the entrance of sin brought disequilibrium to all relationships and disrupted the ecological balance (Genesis 3:16–18). Humanity longs for renewal and restoration, and Christianity claims the promise of recreation (Revelation 21:1, 5). However, we are not called to sit idly by while waiting for the divine fulfillment of the promise. Biblical prophets call for immediate action to address existing injustices in an effort to affirm the Imago Dei (see Isaiah 1:17; 61:1–2; Amos 5:24; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23; James 5:1–6).
The Congress on Social Justice is designed to bring attention to global issues of imbalance as well as the biblical solutions that address them. In the process, it will be seen that an intimate link exists between caring for creation in its fullness and beauty and proclaiming the Three Angels’ Message of Revelation 14.
The year 2020 was an unsettling one for many reasons, not the least of which has been the... read more >
Seminary Town Hall Forum Series on Race
The year 2020 was an unsettling one for many reasons, not the least of which has been the racial unrest sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. These deaths were the latest of far too many unjust deaths of black men and women that have occurred over the past several years, resulting in massive national and international protests.
The television replays of these events deeply impacted those who viewed them. For those who had personally experienced trauma at the hands of police or others in the past, the videos reignited the pain of these past memories often lodged just below the surface of consciousness. For many there was a vicarious or secondary trauma that they and the nation experienced.
In response to the impact of these events on students, the Seminary Care Team, made up of Seminary counselors, chaplain and student leaders, planned a series of Town Hall Meetings on Race to give students, staff and faculty a safe place to talk about their feelings and experiences. The meetings were planned with input from leaders with a variety of racial backgrounds. Each meeting was bathed with prayer and structured with brief presentations by key persons who shared various perspectives and experiences on racial discrimination, followed by a time for those in attendance via Zoom to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings. The Dean’s office gave strong support for each meeting and shared messages of inspiration and encouragement.
The Care Team recognized that this type of “debriefing” has value in that it can uncover feelings related to traumatic experiences which have brought undealt-with pain to the individual. As these experiences are processed in the company of others, a process of healing begins. Those who listen must do so nonjudgmentally and with compassion, understanding that the ones who speak are taking a risk of being further misunderstood and attacked.
The Care Team was intentional in seeking a broad spectrum of students to attend the Forums so that understanding could grow in those students who may have never experienced personally the kind of oppression that their black counterparts have had to experience. While the early Forums were only partially successful in achieving this objective, with attendance being predominantly black, the sharing among those in attendance was deep, vulnerable and meaningfulFor the third Forum, the Care Team intentionally sought to increase the involvement of faculty and students of all racial and cultural backgrounds. Brief video invitations were sent out featuring faculty and students sharing personal experience and Scripture relating to these issues. This approach was somewhat successful in increasing faculty involvement and to a lesser degree student involvement.
In these Forums on Race students and faculty were able to share deeply, often with tears, their experiences of unjust, discriminatory treatment. Many articulated clearly the painful black experience in this country, in the church, at Andrews University and even in the seminary. One black professor shared how his white students openly told him that he should go back to his country and teach. Students not only shared their experiences but also shared what they thought solutions might be to this Christian dilemma. So much of racism is built into the fabric of families and society that it is both unconscious and institutional. How can we as Christians be silent when our brothers and sisters are being disadvantaged? How can we not stand with them and seek to understand their experience? How can we accept the truth that we have implicit racial bias and repent for that which we have seen and are only still coming to see more clearly?
In addition to learning to hear one another, we also are challenged as a seminary to take action to change the status quo. The Seminary’s Ethnicity, Race, and Social Justice Committee (ERSJ) was tasked with the responsibility to draft a Master Plan. This plan includes action steps in each of the following areas: Faculty Recruitment (Employment), Advancement, Finances, Curriculum, Pedagogy, Worship, and Fellowship. The elements of the Master Plan are to be implemented in a systematic way under the watchful eye of the Seminary deans and the ERSJ Committee. We look forward with great anticipation to the unfolding of this maturing in the seminary family as we move forward under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Together, let us make this a matter of earnest prayer so that the healing that is needed is experienced and that the changes that need to be made are implemented.
Dr. David Sedlacek Chair, Department of Discipleship and Religious Education
As a General Conference Institution of higher education representing students from at least 55 countries (47 countries are... read more >
Statement of Support for our Asian Community
As a General Conference Institution of higher education representing students from at least 55 countries (47 countries are represented on the main campus plus many on our MA and DMin international sites), the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary joins the Andrew’s University Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in condemning the recent act of racial violence that has taken place in Atlanta, GA, in which six persons of Asian descent were killed. We express our firm solidarity with and support for our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) faith community and beyond. We understand the anger, fear, anxiety, and despair of the AAPI communities across America and at the Seminary in particular, which is home to many Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
There are 22.6 million people living in America who are part of the AAPI community, according to the 2018 census report. Many of them are immigrants who have come to this country in hopes of finding better equality, opportunities, and justice. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have become targets of ugly aggression and violence though it has been repeatedly stated that they bear no responsibility for starting or spreading the pandemic. There has been an alarming trend of under-reported but steadily rising anti-Asian aggression and violence in America, especially against Asian women. This disturbing trend, which actually has a long history behind it, has gotten the attention of the media and the U.S. lawmakers. But it is Asian Americans, many of whom, feeling the sting of the aggression toward them, no longer feel safe to go about their daily lives without feeling vulnerable and insecure. There are currently 80 AAPI students studying at our Seminary.
The Seminary is committed to providing a safe and caring space for every person connected to it regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, or nationality. We will remain vigilant to ensure that every person studying and working at the Seminary is treated with dignity, justice, collegiality, and compassion, so they can succeed in fulfilling their God-given mission for their lives unhindered. The Seminary will not tolerate any harassment or violence of any type toward any person for any reason. Please promptly report all incidents of harassment and violence to the Deans’ office.
Condemnation and vigilance alone will not root out racial and ethnic prejudices and hostilities, which are endemic to sinful human nature regardless of race. Only Christ can heal us from this terrible spiritual disease. We are a community that has been called to bring healing and redemption to this world plagued with racism, xenophobia, sexual and substance addictions, mental disorders, violence, anger, division, and despair. We urge every faculty, student, and staff to draw close to Christ in this intense time of suffering and crisis by giving themselves to the study and meditation of the Word and to special seasons of prayer for each other and for the communities they each represent. Please pray that Christ will send the Holy Spirit as He promised (John 14:26; 15:26) so the Spirit can pour out the love of God the Father and Jesus Christ in our hearts (Rom 5:5). We need a genuine healing and transformation of hearts. Let us pray that everyone will take this opportunity to recommit themselves to becoming God’s change agents who see in each person humanity created in the image of God, marred by sin, and in need of our compassion.
Praying for those families who were directly affected, but also for all our Seminarians, AU students, and faculty!
May our loving Lord of peace give you rest and new assurance of His Present during the sacred hours of the coming Sabbath!