June 3, 2020
The Seventh-day Adventist church in Southern California collectively mourns the killings of African-Americans across the nation. In the wake of the brutal arrest, torture, and finally death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, we're reminded of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and so many others. We're aggrieved this continues to happen at the hands of law enforcement, and we can remain silent no longer.
We, the Executive Officers of the Southern California Conference, denounce and condemn the unequal and violent enforcement of the law on African-Americans and Black communities across the nation. Christ Himself gave protest against the government and religious leaders of His time when He saw injustice and oppression toward fellow men and women. We seek to follow His example even as we're sickened by the racism exposed by these killings.
Black lives matter. We say this categorically, for we're once again witnesses to the racist behaviors and violence focused primarily on African-American men, particularly those thought to have broken the law. Life is a gift from God. Action needs to be taken to correct such systemic behavior.
The Old Testament prophet Amos identified one of the three sins of ancient Israel in Amos 2:7: “They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.” Therefore, when insensitive, brutal and inhuman acts like these happen, whether by civilians or law enforcement officers, our Christian duty calls us to protest and object to such conduct. We urge Adventists members in our territory to seek to understand and find a change in such systemic and personal behaviors.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area and its immediate suburban communities are among the three most diverse urban centers in America. This cosmopolitan city is home to our diverse membership, and we believe it is a blessing to live in such a rich cross-cultural environment. As followers of Jesus, we are mandated in diversity to “treat others as we would like to be treated by them” and to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
As Christians, we have been called to follow the example of Jesus in our treatment of our fellow men and women, and when we witness these discriminatory acts, we must speak up and speak out against such behaviors.
We appeal to all members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Southern California to meditate, pray and act responsively. Our task is to empathize with those who suffer, to alleviate their pain and agony, and to be willing to defend them. May God strengthen and equip us to this purpose!
We invite you to pray that we may become people who treat others with respect, compassion and dignity, regardless of the circumstances.
May God comfort the Floyd family in this historic and momentous time of grief, foment and the cry for change. We remember African-Americans at this moment, particularly those who have experienced a similar loss through injustice. As the wounds are reopened with each repeated act of violence, may we be instruments of peace.
Southern California Conference Administration