The third Annual Convention of the Conscience and Justice Council convened under the theme Freedom and Equality from Sept. 13-16 in Houston, Texas. The Conscience and Justice Council is another name given to the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty directors of the nine Regional Conferences in the North American Division, regional representatives from the North Pacific Union and Pacific Union, and representatives from Oakwood University.
As this group of leaders survey the landscape of our country and the times in which we live, they feel compelled to continue emphasizing and highlighting the public affairs components of this ministry as it relates to justice and fairness, along with continuing to be strong advocates for liberty of conscience.
During the event, Edward Woods III, chairperson for the Council, posed a series of questions: “Are you tired of the injustice in America and the silence of people of faith? Have you witnessed disparities in the criminal justice system and the silence of people of faith? Do you have any family or friends who question the role of communities of faith in the face of injustice? In showing empathy to those suffering from injustice, have we forgotten how to advocate?”
Woods further reminded attendees that Prov. 31:8-9 emphasizes, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Throughout the convention, participants were encouraged by all of the presenters—from Wintley Phipps, to Elton DeMoraes, to Orlan Johnson, to Claudia Allen, to Timothy Golden, to Cryston Josiah and many others—in how to do exactly what God’s word through Solomon admonishes each of us to do.
Servants of God and friends of man
Cryston Josiah, vice president for administration and PARL director for the Central States Conference and one of the organizers and presenters said, “From the birth of Adventism in the 1800s, our pioneers spoke out against injustices and were strict abolitionist. They were so spirit-filled and spirt-led that they even advocated for obeying God rather than man if some civil laws were unjust.”
In his Sabbath sermon, Wintley Phipps shared that throughout the history of Christianity as far back as Martin Luther, when the church lost sight of its mission, the persecuted church became a persecuting church. He shared that we must be mindful to remain mission-driven, lift up Christ, and always advocate for the freedom of liberty and conscience.
Some of the powerful workshops dealt with our US immigration laws and how we can still help those impacted by children being separated from their families without breaking any laws. Other workshops emphasized the need to pray sincerely for the Latter Rain because we will need the power of the Holy Spirit to take courageous stands, even if it means sacrificing everything.
Updates were presented by Lincoln Steed of Liberty Magazine, Melissa Reid from the North American Religious Liberty Association, and Dwayne Leslie, Esq., General Conference PARL Department, on current religious persecution situations already taking place inside and outside of North America.
Pastors and laypersons alike were inspired to be more like the salt of the earth and light of the world; to be in the world for the benefit of humanity.
Sister Beverly Russell and Sister Judy Lane from the Berean Church in St. Louis, Missouri, testified that they not only had a great time learning and fellowshipping together, but they will take what they’ve learned back to their local church and by God’s grace make a difference for the good of all people in their community.
Mid-America Union News with Pastor Cryston Josiah