Welcome to another edition of Liberation Library with Carl McRoy
Title: African American Seventh-day Adventist Healers in a Multicultural Nation
Author: Edited by Ramona L. Hyman, Ph.D., and Andy Lampkin, PhD
Publisher: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2021
One-sentence summary: A collection of papers presented at the inaugural African American Healers Conference, founded by Dr. Ramona Hyman.
What are the main concerns being addressed? As Dr. Hyman states in the introduction, “The purpose of this collection of essays is to examine, highlight, and share the contributions and questions people of the African diaspora have gifted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, America, and the world. It also examines how they have . . . been the agents of poetic healing among those navigating the harsh reality of slavery and its aftermath.” (p. 16-17)
Were these concerns clearly stated? Yes, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Lampkin assembled a panel with interdisciplinary expertise to address issues from historical, theological, ethical, medical, and business perspectives.
What are the book’s strengths and contributions? Dr. Calvin B. Rock (born in 1930) and Dr. Mervyn A. Warren (born in 1947) have the lived experience of using Hebrews 11 to reflect on where God has brought us from and how He has a collective plan for us all. Dr. Andy Lampkin and Dr. Maury Jackson provide meaningful connections between Black Adventists and the larger legacy of the Black Church and its central role in promoting social, spiritual, and physical healing. Dr. James Kyle addresses the need for pastors to minister to the whole person, not just their spiritual needs, and for doctors to go beyond treating their patients’ symptoms to advocating for societal changes for better outcomes. Elder Anthony Paschal and Dr. Leslie Pollard address church structures and the missional benefits of being able to contextualize the Gospel. Dr. Trusty King points out that Black women face hardships living “at the intersection of sexism and racism,” both in the world and the church. Despite the challenges acknowledged by the writers, they trace how African Americans have been agents of healing in the past and present while seeking something better in the future.
What are the book’s shortcomings? There are only two female contributors, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Trusty King, so there are bound to be blind spots. Fortunately, Dr. Hyman is already working on future projects featuring more youth and femininity. It would also be helpful to involve younger voices, not to displace older generations but to dialogue with them.
What were some good conscience quickening quotes from the book?
“African American Seventh-day Adventists find themselves obligated to try to bring healing to the church’s systemic resistance against relating the Holy Place to the workplace, Christian justification to social justice, the truth that ‘all men are brothers’ to the fear of becoming brothers-in-law.” Mervyn A. Warren, Ph.D., DMin, p. 27
“Black religion has not, and cannot be, focused solely on issues of transcendence and otherworldliness to the neglect of the real-life experience of black people or of what is actually happening in black communities.” Andy Lampkin, Ph.D., p. 45
“Being angry is definitely a warranted option – but not one that many black women have chosen because we are healers . . . Harboring sickness, anger, resentment, and bitterness is debilitating . . . When one releases healing, it is returned, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Andrea Trusty King, DMin, p. 62
“Integration doesn’t erase racial attitudes.” Anthony Paschal, MDiv, p. 69
“Physicians have an obligation not only to provide the best medical care they can but also to spotlight the societal threats to the very patients they are treating.” James L. Kyle, MD, p. 80
“When African American Christians of any denomination lose their story in the homogenous story of white Christians, they also lose the critical voice of their prophetic call. Theology is about story. Theology is about history. Black theology . . . is about our story and our history uncensored.” Maury Jackson, DMin, p. 90
“While many of the ships that brought slaves to these shores had such suggestive names as The Liberty, The Desire, The Brotherhood, and the Good Ship Jesus, their human cargo had no such outlook.” Calvin B. Rock, Ph.D., DMin, p. 119
“Color-blindness is a distinctively non-missional commitment that decontextualizes mission activity by replacing it with Americanized, melting-pot idealism.” Leslie Pollard, Ph.D., DMin, p. 153
What was so liberating about the book?
Just as a medical doctor can better help a patient develop a wellness plan by knowing their family history, African Americans and the larger society must completely understand our history to promote communal healing. Seeing how we overlap as part of the Black Church and part of the Adventist Church helps us offer some unique gifts to both.