From Judgment to Jesus, How Community Changed My Focus
Story by Anna Bartlett
Growing up Adventist, Amy Newman (pictured above with her husband, Roland) experienced something different than Christian love from her Adventist community.
“I remember a lot of standards. [We would think] ‘is she dressed nice enough?’ ‘Was that music holy enough?’ ‘Were they quiet enough?’ [We were very] judgmental, worrying about what we thought of each other versus the emphasis being on going to church and doing ALL for Jesus.”
Sadly, Amy’s story is not unique. Many Adventists shared stories of feeling burned by the communities they grew up in. Some choose to leave. Some perpetuate the judgmental atmosphere. But some, like Amy, become part of a community that chooses to make a difference.
Amy Newman is now the relationship coordinator at Pennsylvania Conference’s Grace Outlet church, where she assists in coordinating the monthly socials there. The socials are a way all ages can come together in an environment that is non-threatening and relaxed and build a community based on sharing Jesus instead of upholding artificial standards.
“We do not have a standard [for how you should be]. You come as you are, whether you wear a suit or jeans, have purple hair or blond, we greet everyone and hug everyone and make sure everyone feels like family,” Amy says.
Amy says her involvement with this ministry has changed her personal perspective on what Adventist community is based on.
“My mindset has changed. [Now] I look at a person and who they are versus what they look like. We worship God, not each other. We are talking each week about how we can share Jesus versus [asking] ‘what do I get out of it?’”