While the heritage of our Division was European, the gift of mission from our early pioneers until the present has led us to grow into a highly multi-cultural and diverse entity, comprised of 22 countries with an even greater multitude of cultures – each rich and to be valued and reflected in our worshipping congregations.
Yet sadly and all too often, a breadth of diversity does not always lead to a richness of unity, or necessarily of understanding.
As we have celebrated the milestone of our 90-year history of mission and outreach even through the difficulties of two World Wars, regional conflicts and persecution in the Communist era, we note other parts of our history, parts for which we express sincere regret. We recognize unconscious bias, ignorance, prejudice, human fears, resentments, and suspicions have affected the Church, most specifically within the British Union Conference.
Commenting on such issues, Ellen White was clear: “This grieves the heart of Christ.” She counselled: “We have the same heavenly Father and the same Redeemer, who loved us and gave Himself for us all, without any distinction.” She then urged: “When the love of Christ is cherished in the heart as it should be . . . there will be no caste, no pride of nationality; no difference will be made because of the colour of the skin.” She concluded: “The colour of the skin is no criterion as to the value of the soul . . . God has taken us, all classes, all nations, all languages . . . and brought us into His workshop, to be prepared for His temple.”1