Archive for August, 2006

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The Beginning of Regional Conferences in the US II

August 26, 2006

Between 1877 and 1890, the question of how to relate to Southern prejudices regarding separate churches etc. for black SDAs was debated by SDA leaders—the 1887 GC minutes describe “animated discussion” over race. Some argued that discrimination was morally repugnant, stating, “if the people of the South do not want to mingle in a congregation with the colored, let them stay away.” (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 2-3.) Others were pragmatic and urged the GC not to arouse unnecessary prejudice” but to preach “the truth to all who come, leaving the spirit of God to obliterate the color line in the hearts of those who may be converted by the truth. (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 3.)
All members agreed that there was no biblical or theological basis for racism.

EJ Waggoner proposed the following resolution which was carried:
“WHEREAS, The Bible says that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond, but that all are one in Christ Jesus, therefore,
Resolved, That it is the decided opinion of this Conference, that when the colored of the south accept the Third Angel’s Message, they should be received into the church on an equality with white members, no distinction whatever being made between the two races in church relations.” (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 3.)

Kinney made an important contribution to the debate in 1889 during the Southern Conference camp meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. R. M. Kilgore had suggested that black attendance at the camp meeting was to blame for the low turn-out of white’s. He suggested therefore, that future meetings be segregated along racial lines. In response, Kinney made some recommendations, stating, “It is probable that my ideas may be a little different from what has been expressed by some…In the first place, a separation of the colored people from the white people is great sacrifice upon our part: we lose the blessing of learning the truth—I have reference especially to general meetings….It would be a great sacrifice upon the apart of my people to miss the information that these general meetings would give them; and another thing, it seems to me that a separation in the general meetings would have a tendency to destroy the unity of the Third Angel’s Message. Now, then this question to me is one of great embarrassment and humiliation, not only to me, but to my people also.” (Quoted in Utzinger, “The Third Angel’s Message for My People,” 30-31.)

Kinney continued: “I am glad to state that the third angel’s Message has the power in it to eliminate or remove this race prejudice upon the part of those who get hold of the truth.” At the same time he reasoned:
“The third Angel’s Message will enable us to remove that obstacle. The color line question is an obstacle; in other words, the very presence of the colored people in church relation and in our general meetings is an obstacle, a barrier that hinders the progress of the Third Angel’s Message from reaching many of the white people. (Quoted in Utzinger, “The Third Angel’s Message for My People,” 31.)

Kinney presented twelve propositions, number 4 bluntly stated, “Where the two races cannot meet without limitation in the church, it is better to separate.” Later he stated, “I would say in this connection that in my judgment a separate meeting for the colored people to be held in connection with the general meetings, or a clear-cut distinction, by having them occupy the back seats etc., would not meet with as much favor from my people as a total separation.” (C. M. Kinney’s Statement on the Concept of Regional Conferences October 2, 1889.)

The concept of separate Black conferences was apparently first suggested by Kinney when confronted by efforts to segregate him and his members at a camp meeting on the day of his ordination. He advocated Black conferences as a way to work more effectively among Blacks and to help ease the racial tensions in the church. These Black conferences would, “bear the same relation to the General Conference that White conferences do.”

The bottom-line is: Conferences divided along racial lines were always a second-best solution–they were never presented as the ideal or best solution to the SDA Church’s racial problems.

References:
C. M. Kinney’s Statement on Regional Conferences 1889

Utzinger, J. Michael. “The Third Angel’s Message for My People: Charles M. Kinney and the Founding of the Seventh-Day Adventist Missions among Southern African Americans 1889-1895.” Fides et Historia 30, no. 1 (1998): 26-40.

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William Miller

August 21, 2006

I have recently begun editing at Wikipedia. I totally rewrote and expanded the article on William Miller (which still needs some more work). While doing so I discovered that a photograph of Miller has recently been discovered.

William Miller Daguerrotype

This is very exciting because up until now, no photograph of Miller has been known- all illustrations of Miller have been artistic renditions. The photograph is poor in quality and I have asked the finder if it is possible to obtain a better quality picture. The photograph was found in the New York Public Library and it is a Daguerrotype dated to 1845.

SDAs trace their roots back to William Miller and his Millerite followers, being part of a group that re-interpreted the failed prophecy of October 22, 1844.

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The Beginning of Regional Conferences in the US

August 7, 2006

The first SDA minister to enter the South was Elbert B. Lane. He travelled to Tennessee in 1871. Lane held his first outreach in a railway station house: “the white people occupying one room and the colored the other.” (The Advent Review & Herald of the Sabbath, May 2, 1871, 158.)

Elbert B. Lane

Elbert B. Lane

In The Advent Review & Herald of the Sabbath of September 26, 1871, under the heading, “The South,” Lane reprted:

“I had not long left the Ohio river before I saw what I had often read of and seen pictured, that is, the large plantation with its mansion and many negro huts or cabins, sometimes built of brick, but usually of boards or logs. They are small, one story buildings, often without windows or ventilation, except by means of the door. These buildings are now rented to the negroes who are in the employ of the planter. They receive low wages, ranging from five to ten dollars per month. The condition of this unfortunate race is truly lamentable.”

Lane continued:

“This is in many respects an unfavorable field in which to labor, owing principally to the feelings of dislike which the people bear toward the North. This however gradually gives way. My first congregations there were very small, perhaps ten or twelve, while my last were between two and three hundred.…I felt a deep interest in the work there, though I labored under some embarrassment. I could not get the people to come and listen to me till after I had been there some little time, and was obliged to leave them before I should after the interest was aroused. I baptized five before I left the State, and felt assured that my labors there would result in much good for the cause. As near as I could ascertain a few had decided to obey the truth, besides those baptized.”


The first SDA Church to be established in the south was at Edgefield Junction, Tennessee. It was founded by Lane who responded to an appeal by a R. K. McCune who had received SDA literature & requested that the Church send a minister.

Edgefield Junction-- Allison Family

Edgefield Junction Church members–the Allison family.

The photo comes from a page documenting the history of the South Central Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In 1877 R. M. Kilgore was sent by the General Conference to the South—Texas. He spent 8 years working there. He faced threats of lynching and once his tent was burned. He was called as president of the Illinois conference in 1885. In 1888 he returned to the South when placed in charge of District No. 2—all the southern states east of the Mississippi. At the time there were 5 ordained white ministers and no black. There were about 500 white church members and 50 black. In 1889, the General Conference heard a report from the Southern Field that pointed out some difficulties workers were facing:

“Considering the peculiar sentiment and prejudices existing in the South…[and] the difficulty of reaching both whites and blacks in one public meeting…” (General Conference Bulletin Vol. 3, 1889, 26.)

In Charles M. Kinney accepted the Adventist message in Reno, Nevada, as a result of the preaching of John Loughborough and Ellen White. A colporteur, then preacher and evangelist, Kinney was ordained by Kilgore in 1889, becoming the only ordained black minister in the denomination.

R. M. Kinney

Charles M. Kinney (The photo is also from the aforementioned History of the South Central Conference.)

In an 1885 issue of the Review and Herald, Kinney wrote: “I earnestly ask the prayers of all who wish to see the truth brought ‘before many peoples…,’ that I may have strength, physical, mental, and spiritual, to do what I can for the Colored people.”