One of the challenges for the contemporary Adventism is how to deal with diversity. Several books and articles have addressed the issue. While some solutions are more applicable than others, no doubt that a final word has not yet been uttered on how to effectively manage the diversity. As each one of us will get involved, exposed, or trying to manage diversity, we will for sure add a new chapter, challenge a theory, open new horizons.
As history unfolds, it is well known that “communications technology, media, immigration patterns, educational institutions, and travel are bringing diverse racial and ethnic groups into more intimate association than at any other time in history” (Embracing Diversity – How to Understand and Reach People of All Cultures, Leslie N. Pollard, editor). Basically there is no escape unless one becomes a monk or isolates himself on an island… On the other hand, “discrimination, intolerance, exclusion, and race-based access and privilege” are the ugly heads and poisoned fruits of racism that we’ve all faced, some more pressing or longer than others. Disoriented sometimes in such a spectrum, we as Adventist Christians are to be made all to all, serve to all people alienated by sin from Jesus Christ.
A real case study is our Dublin West Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we enjoy the fellowship of almost 100 souls, of 21 different nationalities, coming from 4 continents. While some accept the reality of let’s call it “different versions of Adventism”, for others that seems like at least a part has been led astray. As some of the brethren would tend more towards a cookie-cutter shape approach, where service, practices, mission efforts will faithfully reflect the Adventism that was passed to them in their countries of origin, fortunately we all recognize that such an aim is almost impossible, risking a frustrating legalistic uniformity under the label of a false Christian unity and brotherly love.
In 2018 we want to celebrate our diversity in Dublin West. “Diversity for us is not a toleration or a modification, it’s a celebration. It’s not an infraction or a distraction, it’s an attraction. It’s not about age, stage or wage, it’s about oneness” (Diversity – The Challenge for Contemporary Adventism, Richard de Lisser, editor). What if we turn our weakness into a strength? Then “diversity for us is not an accomodation or an adaptation, it’s an advantage.”
On the last Sabbath of every month we will be challenged and enriched. Remember these two words!
One ethnic group will lead us in the service, so that they will express their faith in the most natural way to them. Accepting a different perspective (that’s the challenge!), we will better understand our brothers and sisters (that’s the enriching part!). The pastor will preach a sermon on Diversity subject while the afternoon program will reunite us in an open discussion on important subjects that we see and deal with differently. What about Christmas? That’s our first meeting in an original format with open discussion, small group discusion, testimonies, presenting resources etc.
If anyone is interested, there are these two books available (your pastor has them), being written and published by respected Seventh-day Adventists.
Embracing Diversity – How to Understand and Reach People of All Cultures, Leslie N. Pollard, editor
Diversity – The Challenge for Contemporary Adventism, Richard de Lisser, editor