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.”


One comment

  1. I applaud the efforts and sacrifice of our forebears like Kinney who worked for betterment of so-called “coloured” members to be accepted as equals in our SDA Churches today.

    The sad part though is that 130 years later, traces of racist attitudes are still evident among so-called “bretheren” and “sisters” in SDA communities right across the globe. It is soul-destroying to be subjected to overt racial discrimination. Many have left the Church because of this.

    We cannot turn a blind eye to this any longer. I think that it is high time that the Church at GC level should make available literatures in many languages and address the issue of racism. The relics of the old Southern racist attitudes are still permeating our congregations.

    I know that it is not the majority of members who arew guilty of this sinful attitude, but I believe that it is time that the Church should come clean about this topic.

    Hope that this response will be considered.

    Yours in Christ

    Moses Arendse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: