[Photo Courtesy of the East-Central Africa Division]
Nairobi, Kenya | Prince Bahati, ECD Communication Director

Through its Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) department, the East-Central Africa Division organized a two-day symposium for its leadership to understand the concept of ‘One Humanity’ in context and real life. 
According to the Adventist World Church’s PARL department, “One Humanity” is a human relations statement addressing racism, casteism, tribalism and ethnocentrism.

The meeting, which was conducted through zoom, gathered more than 200 leaders including pastors, university professors and lay professionals. They tackled the divisive “Isms” with prayer and frankness. In their introductory remarks, the general vice-president of the Adventist World Church, Geoffrey Mbwana, appealed to church leaders to preserve unity and display Christ’s love as they minister to people in their diversity.

For the global Adventist Church’s PARL director Ganoune Diop, the Adventist Church should illumine the world by promoting Christ’s righteousness above world justice. Talking about racism, he emphasized that it is heresy and an idol whose worshipers attack God’s creation. He urged leaders to reject it and uphold equity and equality. 

At the outset, president of the ECD Blasius Ruguri cautioned attendees that they all needed to hear the “ugly” truth about tribalism which is real in the region. “We are not here to talk about what we have read but to fight an old “monster” that has been standing in our way of mission”.

One of the despicable consequences of tribalism is the genocide against the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda. ECD executive treasurer Jerome Habimana is a survivor of the horror. In a touching testimony, Habimana shared how a mass grave has been erected in western Rwanda Seventh-day Adventist mission headquarters. There lie thousands of pastor’s families and church employees who died at the hand of their fellow church members, all because leadership promoted people’s differences at the expense of commonalities. 

The Vice-Chancellor of Bugema University in Uganda Professor Patrick Manu, who was representing higher-learning institutions, deplored the fact that Adventist universities are not immune to tribalism. For him it has become a cyclical evil, because the same universities are training church leaders. He urged families, institutions and leaders to remember their Christian calling and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

At the climax of the meetings, the symposium recommended unity as the fuel of mission, more symposiums at the low levels of the church, preparation of materials to inculcate every member with the concept of One Humanity, caution during elections and administration of disciplinary actions against disunity perpetrators in the church.