Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Families gathered during the Community Prayer Vigil at Spencerville Adventist Academy | Photo by Dan Weber/NAD

Members Gather to Pray and Pursue Justice

Leighton Kennedy, a member of Emmanuel-Brinklow church prepares to play a song during the Community Prayer Vigil.Story by V. Michelle Bernard / Photos by Dan Weber/NAD Communication

Over the weekend, several groups in the Columbia Union met to pray, grieve and call for justice after the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police.

Noah Washington, associate pastor at Allegheny East Conference’s Emmanuel-Brinklow church in Ashton, Md., was one of the organizers of the Community Prayer Vigil Friday evening at Spencerville Adventist Academy (Md.). He says that several hundred people attended, including Adventists (Leighton Kennedy pictured)  from the surrounding community and clergy and community members from the community. The event provided “an opportunity for people to emote as well as to come together and pray for our country, pray for the families of the victims and pray for our country and police and policing … and to get direction as to what God is saying during this time,” he adds.

Emmanuel Asiedu (pictured right), Columbia Union Conference treasurer, represented the union at the event. “The atmosphere was peaceful, prayerful and unifying. All members present recognized that we are all the same fallen human beings in need of mercy, love and compassion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I was reminded that at the foot of the cross, Jesus doesn’t see color. He only sees human beings created in the image and likeness of God who deserve to be loved and saved.”

Chad Stuart (pictured below), senior pastor of Chesapeake Conference’s Spencerville church in Silver Spring, Md., who helped host the event, says, “I believe the importance of coming together with the community is to let them know that the light on the hill comes down into the trials of the valley also, and that we want to be part of the conversation and the solution, not simply bystanders. We are not disinterested pseudo-Christians; we are real followers of Jesus, and, like Him, we go into the community to show we care.

Claudia Allen, an Emmanuel-Brinklow member and event organizer, adds, “It is so critical that we gather with our county, our community and come to an understanding on how we can move forward to ensure that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.”

Organizers encouraged attendees to get involved by being informed about the issues, to vote, contact local government officials and be responsible for one’s actions within their communities, says Washington.

In an interview, Stuart added, “Where I would advise a white Christian who wants to help is this: make a friend. In Hebrews 13:2 we are told to show ‘hospitality to strangers.’ The Greek word [for] hospitality is philoxenia, which we could translate to ‘love for the different.’ My perspective on black and white relations began to change when I became friends with someone different than me—a black lady. As we begin to love someone different than us, I believe we will begin to also care about the broader community—those we love [who] come from. I am now a vocal advocate for the larger black community, but it started with one friendship many years ago.”

Miles to Minneapolis

Sunday night a group of members and leaders from the North American Division (NAD), Columbia Union Conference and Maryland-area community and faith leaders kicked off “Miles to Minneapolis,” a virtual freedom ride from Maryland to Minneapolis.

The group gathered on Facebook to “mobilize a massive interfaith prayer movement in support of social justice in general, justice in the United States and social justice in Minneapolis, in particular,” according to organizers.

During the event, Anthony Medley, senior pastor of Emmanuel-Brinklow and one of the Miles to Minneapolis’ organizers, challenged viewers to do tangible things and sign the “Miles to Minneapolis Pledge.” Medley said, “We can take our praying, our preaching and our marching and create a pledge of action.” (Download the pledge here.)

The virtual prayer meeting continued each night in different cities across the United States and will end June 21. (Get more details on the nightly virtual gathering here.)

Other Ways to Participate

A group of local Adventists are also planning “I am Blackness: Together We Stand,” Sabbath, at 4 p.m., at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Check the Facebook event for weather and other updates.

Rocky Twyman, a member of Potomac Conference’s Rockville (Md.) church, is organizing a tribute to George Floyd Thursday, June 25, where he is encouraging protestors to get tested to be bone marrow matches for individuals suffering with lupus, sickle cell anemia and the forms of leukemia that disproportionately impact black people.

“Since they might become life-saving matches, the large number of individuals who protested in his honor have the unique ability to keep Floyd’s memory alive by taking the painless marrow test,” says Twyman in a release. The event is scheduled for June 20 from noon to 6 p.m. (weather permitting) in front of St. John’s Episcopal church in N.W. Washington, D.C.

The Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee has set up a task force to recommend ways our church family can facilitate dialogue, create understanding and address the systemic issues of racism in our church and communities.

Share your ideas at

Photo of Rocky Twyman courtesy Demetrias Shockley

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