Messages from the President...
Have you ever seen this bumper sticker? I see it frequently as I’m driving around town. I actually like the concept of coexistence with other faith traditions. While many believe it’s our duty to convert others to Adventism, the one “true” faith, I have always felt it more important to show the love of God to others through my actions. I can leave the task of conversion to God because I don’t think He really needs my help. But I do believe in showing respect for other belief systems. Being respectful is not the same as believing a particular belief system is right for me. It means that I’m secure enough in what I believe to allow others to believe what’s right for them.
This is another bumper sticker that I like a lot. I believe there is far too little tolerance in the world, and sometimes even within our own Kinship community.
What got me thinking about this is a conference call I had with the Member Services team the other night. In an effort to continue meeting the needs of our members, we were discussing the recent survey that was sent to the members in the U.S. and Canada. Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea were also recently surveyed and more surveys will be going out to more regions very soon. With these surveys, all members will have the opportunity to participate in important feedback for the organization.
But, in going over the responses to some of the questions that were asked, I noticed that different members were saying completely opposite things. One would say that Kinship is too secular and not spiritual enough, and another member would say it’s far too religious. Someone else would comment that Kinship is cliquish while still others would say how Kinship is so friendly, open, and nurturing; and they have felt a part of a wonderful family. And it struck me just how diverse the responses were to each of the questions—of course, as diverse as the many members of Kinship are. We are each unique.
As I look back over the last 15 years that I’ve been active in Kinship, I’ve heard a lot of the comments folks have made about Kinship. I’ve heard the negative and the positive comments: too secular, too religious, not enough women participating, don’t like the Kampmeeting venue, love the Kampmeeting venue, people bash the church on KinNet, people love a church that bashes them too much, the Connection is awesome, and the work that goes into Kampmeeting programming is greatly appreciated. You see, everyone has a different opinion and point of view about this organization. Some find Kinship extremely relevant in their lives and others not as much. That’s okay as long as we still work together, whatever our opinions.
My feeling is that we all can benefit from having an attitude of coexistence and tolerance. I believe that there is absolutely room for everyone in Kinship. It doesn’t matter if you are currently an Adventist any more than it matters if you no longer are. Each member of Kinship is valuable wherever they may be on their journey. As it has been said, “Take what you want and leave the rest.” Diversity and differences are beautiful things! There is room for everyone here, and there is room for you.
Yolanda Elliott, President
SDA Kinship International