SDA Black History

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God Has Led Us This Far and He Will Never Leave Us

Joshua 4:19–24 NLT
19 The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. 20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. 21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
Racism and white supremacy has plagued this church from the beginning like every other church in the United States of America
The church is not a racist and white supremacist organization but some people who lead it still are...
Galatians 2:11ff - Paul withstood Peter for acting in a prejudiced manner towards gentiles
It is still necessary to confront racism and white supremacists and systems that produce disparate outcomes in the church in order to reflect God’s love and glory in in the earth
John 17:18–22 NLT
18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.
January 12, 1862 - First church was organized under the new Seventh-day Adventist denomination and black people were charter members.
From 1863 to 1894 (31 years) - Not much was done to advance the work among black people.
1871 - E.B. Lane came to Edgfield, TN and preached the Three Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:6-12) to a mixed group.
November 9, 1886 - The first black Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized. Harry Lowe, a former Baptist minister and an original charter member in the Seventh-day Adventist organization was named as pastor. This happened 23 years after the first Seventh-day Adventist church was organized.
C.M. Kinney was born a slave in Richmond, VA (1855).
1878 - He became a charter member of the Reno, NV church.
1883-1885 - He went to the Healdsburg College in CA.
1889 - Four years after leaving Healdsburg College he was called to pastor in Louisville, KY and became the first black person to be ordained as a Seventh-day Adventist minister 27 years after the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
1889 - Kinney asked for a black-led Seventh-day Adventist conference. The answer was, no.

From 1889 black churches began organizing at the rate of one per year for the next three years.

1890 - 2nd church in Louisville, KY
1891 - 3rd church in Bowling Green, KY
1892 - 4th church in New Orleans, LA
1894 - 5th church in Nashville, TN

1891 - E.G. White, the church’s second recognized prophet, rebuked the Church for neglecting the work among coloreds who had so recently been freed from slavery by law

The first prophet in the Church was William Foy, a mulatto, who has been castigated as the unwilling prophet - NOT TRUE (See The Unknown Prophet, Delbert Baker).

“Sin rests upon us as a church because we have not made a greater effort for the salvation of souls among colored people.” SW 15

After that statement, E.G. White’s son, James White, built the Morning Star, a ship that went upon and down the Mississippi River to bring the gospel of salvation to black people.

As a result of the work of the Morning Star two organizations were formed:

Southern Missionary Society, which is now known as the South Central Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Gospel Herald, which is now known as the Message Magazine, the oldest black religious journal in America

As James White was working in the South, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted to open a manual training school for coloreds.

This was 33 years after the beginning of the new Seventh-day Adventist denomination

350 acres were purchased for $6,000 and Oakwood Industrial School opened in 1895 with 16 students.

Job 8:7 ESV
7 And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

Unfortunately, incompetent white teachers who could not make it in the schools for white Seventh-day Adventist children were sent to Oakwood to miss educate the black students. God blessed despite this outrage.

1899 - James Weldon Johnson collabarated with James R. Johnson to write the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing

The song is somewhat based upon Exodus 2:23.
Exodus 2:23 KJV 1900
23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

1929 - 40 years after the first request, another request for a black-led conference was made and the answer was, “No, and don’t ask, again.”

Oakwood Holiday - On Friday, October 9, 1931, after 36 years of racism and abuse, students at the now Oakwood Junior College went on strike. They wrote letters to the Vice President of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and 30 black ministers demanding three changes:

A negro President;
Removal of all incompetent faculty; and
Representation of Northern negroes on the Oakwood Junior College Board.
The students got their demands. And the Oakwood Holiday had a profound effect on the Negro Department of the General Conference.

Negro Department of the General Conference

1909 - 47 years after the first black church was organized, the North American Negro Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was formed. It was housed in Pittsburg, PA instead of Washing, D.C. with the other departments. Its mission was to help the over 900 black church members advance the gospel mission among black people.
1918 - 9 years after the formation of the department and after much pressure from black people, the first black minister, W.H. Green, Esq., was appointed as the leader of the North American Negro Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
June, 1932 - 8 months after the Oakwood Holiday, the North American Negro Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was moved from Pittsburg, PA to Washington, D.C. and placed under the General Conference Committee like the rest of the departments.
It took 23 years for the Negro Department to gain a modicum of equal status with the other departments but it finally happened.
In the 1930s, a young black man named Milton Martel Young Sr., my grandfather, was appointed as the first black man to lead the Negro Department of the Southwest Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
I believe he was the first black man to be appointed at the union level of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

1944 - Lucy Byard, a black woman, was refused services at the white Adventist Hospital

She died… and it sparked another push for black-led conference

September 26, 1944 - The first black constituency meeting was held at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chicago, IL, and the Lake Regions Conference of Seventh-day Adventist was born.

The official purpose of the conference was to “… teach the everlasting gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It was said, “They will be back” because white men did not believe black men could lead… and they still do not to a great degree.
The criteria reviewed at the first constituency meeting was, membership, money, and territory.
The territory of the Lake Region Conference included MI, IN, WS and IL. Later, MN was included.
Since its inception 75 years ago, Lake Region Conference has had 11 presidents.

Since 1945, eight other black-led conferences have been organized:

1945 - Northeastern Conference
1945 - Allegheny Conference
1946 - South Atlantic Conference
1947 - Central States Conference
1950 - Southwest Region Conference
1967 - Allegheny East Conference
1967 - Allegheny West Conference
1981 - Southeastern Conference
I am proud to say my father, Jackson Michael Doggette Sr., was the second President of the Southeastern Conference (1988 - 1994).

2009 - Jackson Michael Doggette Jr., Esq. became the first black minister to become in-house attorney for any Seventh-day Adventist Conference in the history of the church

As far as I know, I am the third black minister become an attorney in my generation.

Are black-led conferences still necessary in 2019?

There are no black-led conference on the west coast of the United States of America.
In 1995, over 100 years after the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the west coast had about 25,000 members and a tithe income of about $8 million.
In 1995, after about 50 years of work through black-led conferences, the membership grew from about 17,000 members to about 230,000 members. The tithe income from those members was over $200 million.
Pine Forge Academy is the only black-led boarding school under the administration of a black conference.
Ultimately, black people must fight for social justice for black people. To do this, black institutional power is needed.
Mass incarceration is destroying the black family.
Institutional racism, redlining, job discrimination, economic discrimination, educational discrimination, abusive policing, judicial discrimination…
I argue there are many social reasons the black church in the United States of America needs black leadership.
We have made a lot of progress as black people in the United States of America and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
There is much more to do. We cannot be satisfied with our current progress.

There is Much More To Do!

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