Two conferences. One city. Striving to be of One accord.

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Over the weekend of March 19-20, 2021, Detroit-area pastors of the Lake Region and Michigan conferences, USA, led their congregations in a deep study of how the Bible addresses issues of ethnocentrism and cultural superiority among believers.

The event, titled “His Invitation: Reconciliation, Unity and Latter Rain Power,” drew hundreds of Adventist participants online and in churches.

Lake Union associate director of Communications, Debbie Michel, interviewed the main organizers of this historic event, Lake Union general vice president and Multicultural Ministry director, Carmelo Mercado, along with pastors Darryl Bentley (Michigan) and Dwayne Duncombe (Lake Region). Edited excerpts of the conversation follow.

Debbie Michel: Elder Mercado, please talk to us about the journey to healing and understanding that the Lake Union has been on for the last five years.

Carmelo Mercado: Elder Don Livesay, who was at the time president of the Lake Union, came before us as officers in 2015 and said, “I feel impressed that we need to offer an apology for the injustices that have taken place within our territory.”

[This apology took place] at the [2015] camp meeting, which was the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Lake Region Conference. It was moving for me. Dr. Jones responded, saying he accepted the apology.

Following that [in 2016], we decided to go one step farther. We went to Berrien Springs Village Church and held a convocation, inviting both Michigan and Lake Region people to join us as well as anyone else who wanted to attend.

It was a good dialogue. We had a panel discussion, and one question that came up was, “What next?” It was at that point when I responded, “I think we should take this across the Union. We should start holding meetings in other conferences.”

In 2017, we began the journey with Indianapolis, with the pastors from the Indiana and Lake Region conferences in that city. We had several meetings in different churches.

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