This plan is to be followed, until the Lord
shows us a better way.-Testimonies, vol. 9,
p.207. (Italics supplied)
We are not to be in haste to define the exact course to
be pursued in the future regarding the relation
to be maintained between white and colored people.-Ibid.,
pp. 209, 210. (Italics supplied)
The counsels God gave for the work were safe counsels,
and we, with surrendered hearts and wills, were to keep
close to the Lord. It would be the Lord through His providences
who, if a better way was to be found, would show it to us.
This thought was implicit in the following admonition given
at the time, which was more than 50 years ago: Let white
and colored people be labored for separate, distinct lines,
and let the Lord take care of the rest.-Ibid.,
p. 210. (Italics supplied)
Circumstances May Alter Cases
Two years later, but in an entirely different context,
Ellen White wrote: Regarding the testimonies, nothing is
ignored: nothing is cast aside: but time and place must
be considered.-Selected Messages, book 1, p. 57.
She also stated that at times in some matters, "circumstances
alter cases" (Ellen G. White letter 267, 1905). And
again she declared, "Circumstances and emergencies
will arise for which the Lord must give special instruction.
But if we begin to work, depending wholly upon the Lord,
watching, praying, and walking in harmony with the light
He sends us, we shall not be left to walk in darkness."-Ellen
G. White letter 192, 1906.
If there was one dominant thought in the counsels given
i n1895 and 1896-and quoted in this series-regarding work
in the Southern States and among the colored people, it
was that the approaches must be different from those made
in other places and that we must be led by the Spirit of
God in meeting the situations as we found them, changing
as they may be.
The counsels of 1909, published in the Testimonies,
volume nine, gave safe guidance for that time, and to today
in so far as conditions may, in certain areas, be as they
were then. The expressions quoted at the opening of this
article indicate the possibility of adjustments in approaches
as the Lord, through His Spirit, leads us in relating ourselves
to changing conditions.
It has been most gratifying to observe the progress that
has been made as the years have passed by. The church membership
has increased. The plan for Regional conferences on. was
developed in 1944, which drew men and women of varied skills
and talents into administrative, financial, the and secretarial
lines. This greatly eft broadens the choice of denominational
Lite employment open to our colored young men and young
women coming from the colleges of the church.
It may be added here that well-qualified colored personnel
have been drawn into departmental and administrative work
in such higher organizations as the union conferences and
the we General Conference. Colored teachers in fill teaching
positions in most North American senior colleges, and colored
physicians and nurses help to staff in Seventh-day Adventist
medical institutions generally.
Steadily and consistently as progress is made in the United
States toward better understanding between the races, the
church has moved forward, keeping pace. Perhaps the progress
has not been as rapid as some might desire, but church leaders
representing both races have ever kept in mind the vital
importance of avoiding a course that would jeopardize the
proclamation of the message in any area. Added impetus was
given to the movement for better race relations within the
church with a series of formal declarations announcing the
denominations position on these matters. The progress is
shown in the statements which follow.
R. R. Figuhr, in 1958, Reports Progress
From the report of the General Conference president, R.
R. Figuhr, to the session of 1958, we give the following:
We are a universal church. We could not he otherwise. The
divine mandate, to proclaim the gospel to every nation and
people, makes us such. Consistent with this fact, we believe,
is the universal brotherhood of man and that God "hath
made of one blood all nations . . . to dwell on all the
face of the earth," as the Scriptures say. We therefore
deplore, as contrary to the spirit of the gospel, any effort
to depreciate as inferior any nation or people, believing
that all alike are precious in Gods sight. We believe in
the oneness that there is in Christ and as set forth by
the apostle Paul, "There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor
female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal.
3:28).--Review and Herald, June 20, 1958, p. 4.
Formal 1961 Statement on Human Relations
On October 27, 1961, at the Autumn Council of the General
Conference Committee the following formal statement setting
forth human relations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a world church. The
task that Seventh-day Adventists have assumed is the preaching
of the gospel to every tongue and nation. They believe that
all men are of one blood and are equally destined for eternity
in the heavenly kingdom.
The stand of our church on these basic principles involved
in race and national relationships has been set forth clearly
for many decades in many of our standard publications. The
following quotations are representative of our belief and
"Christ came to this earth with a message of mercy
and forgiveness. He laid the foundation for a religion by
which Jew and Gentile, black and white, free and bond, are
linked together in one common brotherhood, recognized as
equal in the sight of God, The Saviour has a boundless love
for every human being. In each one He sees capacity for
improvement. With divine energy and hope He greets those
for whom He has given His life. In his strength they can
live a life rich in good works, filled with the power of
the Spirit."--Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 225.
"No distinction on account of nationality, race, or
caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind.
All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through
redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition,
to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every
soul may have free access to God. . . . In Christ there
is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. All are brought
nigh by His precious blood."-- Christs Object Lessons,
"The religion of the Bible recognizes no caste or
color. It ignores rank, wealth, worldly honor. God estimates
men as men."--Testimonies, vol. 9. p. 223.
"Thus Christ sought to teach the disciples the truth
that in Gods kingdom there are no territorial lines, no
caste, no aristocracy; that they must go to all nations,
hearing to them the message of a Saviours love."--The
Acts of the Apostles, p. 20.
"When the Holy Spirit is poured out, there will he
a triumph of humanity over prejudice in seeking the salvation
of the souls of human beings. God will control minds. Human
hearts will love as Christ loved. And the color line will
he regarded by many very differently from the way in which
it is now regarded. To love as Christ loves, lifts the mind
into a pure, heavenly, unselfish atmosphere.--Testimonies,
vol. 9, p. 209.
These truths so clearly enunciated and supported in Holy
Scripture, caused a new day to dawn upon our earth. They
broke down the partition walls between adversaries, between
races, between men. No more was there to be a distinction
of a race or caste of people. The elect of God became a
universal race, a new humanity. The implication was love
and pity and respect toward all men - total love, unrestricted
duty. Christians moved with compassion would look upon a
dying world with deep concern, for God is the father of
mankind and all men are their brothers.
We believe that a denial in any form of this universal
fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man would eat the heart
out of a world movement and stifle as nothing else could
the spirit of "Abba, Father."
We, therefore, rededicate our denominational purpose to
these basic principles of Gods universal church. -- Autumn
Council of the General Conference Committee, October
24-29, 1961, pp. 12, 13.
At this same 1961 council the following forward-looking
action was taken to give substance to the general principles
In consideration of our denominational stand on human relations,
and with a view to better communication and understanding,
we recommend the following:
1. That we continue to encourage the employment of workers
in our institutions without regard to race, color, or national
origin, and on the basis of qualification and merit.
2. That we continue the service of Regional workers in
overseas fields, and that we explore the possibility of
finding further overseas territories in which they can serve.
3. That when circumstances require, committees be set up
within the union conferences to study the problems of human
relations, and that workshops be conducted to give guidance
and instruction in dealing with local racial problems.
4. That a representative standing committee in the General
Conference be appointed on human relations.
5. That normal church channels be used in dealing with
all racial and human relations problems.-Actions of
the Autumn Council Pertaining to the North American Division,
pp. 6. 7.
Next week we shall conclude this series by citing further
actions taken on human relations.