Jeffrey O. Brown, PhD, is the associate editor of Ministry and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission, the Great Awakening, and even the Great Disappointment, when Baptist preacher William Miller inspired thousands to believe that Jesus’ return was imminent. Fewer of us may have heard of the Great Resignation.

“The last several months have seen a tidal wave of resignations, in the U.S. and around the world,” stated Harvard Business Review.1 BBC announced, “The Great Resignation is happening across the world, as workers clean out their desks to head for new roles elsewhere.”2

Mission impossible?

The word resignation can mean giving up in an active sense, such as in giving up a job. It can also refer to giving up in a passive sense, such as in giving up hope of change, a reluctant acceptance of something perceived as inevitable. One of these seeming inevitabilities is a lack of progress in the struggle for racial equality.

All of the blaming, shaming, and name-calling have led many to throw up arms of despair and quietly retreat, believing the conflict will never be resolved. In the enormity of the struggle, many have resigned to leaving it for Jesus to fix when He returns. Yet Jesus says, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13, KJV). For Jesus’ followers, resignation is not ours to choose.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church embraces a comprehensive message of physical healing now, though we know that when Jesus comes, “ ‘There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” (Rev. 21:4, NKJV). Similarly, we are called to embrace a comprehensive message of racial healing now, though we know that when Jesus comes, “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2, NIV).

Healing embodies repentance, reconciliation, and restitution. Ellen White states, “The American nation owes a debt of love to the colored race, and God has ordained that they should make restitution for the wrong they have done them in the past. Those who have taken no active part in enforcing slavery upon the colored people are not relieved from the responsibility of making special efforts to remove, as far as possible, the sure result of their enslavement.”3

Restitution adds conviction to a person’s repentance and reconciliation. At the groundbreaking Lucy Byard Recognition Event (see Dateline in this issue, p. 26), Adventist HealthCare’s acknowledgment of wrongdoing was accompanied by an immediate pledge of half a million dollars toward scholarships, including an endowment, to close health disparities and economic inequity gaps among people of color.

Mission accomplished?

Resignation is not an option for the people of God. Ellen White states, “Every church member should feel an interest in all that concerns the human brotherhood and the brotherhood in Christ. We are members one of another; if one member suffers, all the members suffer with him.”4 Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, commented, “The recognition of Lucy Byard is an important step in helping people understand that Seventh-day Adventists, not just the institution, but all of us, must truly follow in the steps of Christ and understand what it means to offer respect and dignity to all.”5

While we dare not say “mission accomplished,” we rejoice that African American Allegheny East Conference president Pete Palmer can say that the Lucy Byard Recognition Event was the celebration of “a new day dawning in the Adventist Church.”6 Such small celebrations on earth may just be prerequisites for the Great Celebration in heaven.

  1. Ian Cook, “Who Is Driving the Great Resignation?” Harvard Business Review, September 15, 2021, summary, https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation.
  2. Sophia Epstein, “The Benefits of Not Joining the Great Resignation,” BBC Worklife, November 28, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20211124-why-not-quitting-might-be-great-for-your-career.
  3. Ellen G. White, “ ‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper?’ ” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 21, 1896, 1.
  4. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1902), 292.
  5. Corinne Kuypers-Denlinger, “The Life and Legacy of Lucy Byard Honored at Recognition Event,” Adventist Review, December 17, 2021.
  6. Pete Palmer, “Lucy Byard Recognition Event,” December 10, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFK1zAfV3jw. Listen at 1 hour, 40 min, 15 sec.

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