If Publishing Is Dead….Who Killed It?

As an African American S. D. A. I have never understood how we have this inordinate desire to go along with the majority even if it is to our detriment. I was a high school junior on May 17, 1954; When the Supreme Court voted that the separate but equal concept in public schools was unconstitutional. Jim Crow Laws under the onslaught of bus boycotts, sit-ins, freedom rides, and protests caused segregation to crumble. Integration, however; brought a new challenge. Many felt that we could forsake our own institutions and business and join those of the majority culture. But we soon discovered that we had left ours behind to share what belonged to others. I liken it to the dog in Aesop’s fable who seeing his reflection in a nearby pond reasoned he could take the bone from the other dog. Having plunged into the pond he lost the bone that he had and ended up with nothing. Sadly, this fable adequately describes our naïveté as African American Seventh-day Adventists.

In the 1970 African American leaders instituted our own publishing ministry which we dubbed Family Health Education Service because the original program did not feature African American in our publications and the pay-by-mail plan did not work well for minority customers. Whether strong or weak F. H. E. S. Is our baby. Why should we discontinue our ministry because of what others have done? When the majority of our unions in the North American Division closed their publishing departments at the union level, regional conferences did not follow suit. However, eventually; some of our conferences followed the examples of their respective unions. Therefore we can blame no one for the demise of our publishing ministry but ourselves. In 2007, the constituency of our conference voted to refer the future of the publishing department to the conference committee. Seven months later the conference committee voted with only one dissenting vote. At this time the publishing department had over $40,000.00 in it’s treasury. This money was merged into the conference treasury despite my protestations.

The Review and Herald as well as the Pacific Press our two United States publishing facilities, are presently facing tremendous financial challenges. What can you expect when the spiritual marines of our church are being decimated? Why have armories to prepare ammunition, if there are no soldiers

The Painful Divorce

Have you ever thrown away something, that you later discovered that you needed I know I have. Our Educational system is in a state of dissolution because we have killed the economic system is in s state of dissolution because we have killed the economic arm of our church, publishing. Many of the people in our constituency owe their present positions and success to the funds they earned as student literature evangelists. Are we now willing to chop down the bridge for future generations? A little Israeli boy had a friend that was coming to Israel for a visit. The Jewish lad pondered long and hard over what he could show his American friend that would be impressive. When his buddy from the U. S. arrived, the Israeli, lad lead his friend down to the shore of the dead sea and said: “That’s the dead sea, my father killed it” will it be said of us who through the neglect and disdain for the literature evangelism program will cause us to say something similar to our constituency “That’s The Publishing Ministry, We Killed It.”

Anonymous Contributor


About The Forgotten Shepherdess

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6 Responses to If Publishing Is Dead….Who Killed It?

  1. W.B. Stanley, PhD says:

    I have the highest respect for Adventist Publishing and more-so Colpoteurs. Here’s why, my first installment at Andrews University of $10,000.00 was earned the previous summer selling books in the mountains of West Virginia among Coal Miners. I was un-sponsored by my conference and had absolutely no means of support to further my Masters of Divinity beyond government loans. Well, I hit it hard with prayer and books (Bible Story and the Conflict Series). End result, O-balance at Andrews fall registration. Needless to say, I learned what leaning on God was all about. Trust me, you really learn to PRAY when canvassing door to door.

    My questions are and has been; the Spirit-of Prophecy has told us to do this why did we let it go? If Ellen White stated it, I do believe as a Worker in God’s last day Church, it was given for those living right prior to Jesus’ coming to help usher in His coming. To see a student Colpoteur selling books during summer, I can’t help but see by faith the angels of God accompany them at task. Will the Education Department become extinct as is the publishing Department in our Conference? What is this saying about use as God’s people? Are we letting go the rubrics that help make us distinct? Please reply Anonymous Writer.


  2. Marian says:

    It has often been said, “If you want to hide something from Black people, put it in a book!” Unfortunately, we have allowed that to stand because we are not a reading people. I understand our roots are more kinesthetic than literal. However, we must read in our homes, starting with our Sabbath School lessons. We will purchase X-boxes, Wii’s, etc and have the latest computer equipment, and it is needed. When is the last time our children saw us reading a book in our homes? Children learn by example – if we want a publishing/educational system, we must make use of all the resources.

    Literature evangelists could not survive because WE stopped purchasing their products. We said the books were too expensive – small investment compared to electronic games, IPods and the like! We need to stop looking around and assessing blame – look at the person in the mirror!

    When is the last time YOU’VE read a book?


    • Back Field In Motion says:


      The statement, “When the last time YOU READ A BOOK” is a little personal. Is this the Marian I have come to know as a gentle person?

      With that said, you have looked at the issue of publishing from a valid stance. We did not reinvent it so that it could catch up and remain a viable business in the 21st century. I feel the same way concerning Message Magazine. Ther articles are SOMETIMES not what the average reader at the supermarket wants to read. Selling out dated magazines at a greatly reduced price disguised under evangelism to churches only tells me that we are still missing the point of relevancy. Eventually, the magazine will end up as an internet publication because of the increasing cost of publishing.

      I think that we did a terrible injustice to the publishing work and evangelism to allow publishing to become almost defunct. When the former Union president put the hatchet on publishing by his remarks, he didn’t realize that he would become the MAN IN THE MIRROR. The MAN IN THE MIRROR are white people who want to do away with our instituions to feel like they still are in controll of the church. Sorry for such a racia statement but it is true.

      Don’t be so hard on sister girl, she is just a good ol’ adventist trying to help save a vanishing institution. GIVE HER A BRAKE!


  3. Sister-girl says:

    We dishonor those who have gone before us when we fail to support the efforts they put forward when we had nothing. The scars of slavery is still with us. Today is our time to rise above our disadvantaged past. I do not know if it is too late to save our publishing. Appreciate if someone would comment on how this can be done. My concern is still for education of our youth. We allow our children to be ignorant. We are not teaching them of the struggle of the past. Most of the students today take for granted their education. This is because their parents have not taught them, that if they continue wasting their time, not applying themselves and taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them that were not available to us, then they do not deserve to sit in the desks that our ancestors protested, demonstrated, and were killed so they can can go to almost any school of their choosing.


    • Sister-girl says:

      TO: Marian and others

      I do not disagree regarding parents reading to their children. My response is about the obligation we have as parents to tell the story. The history about our people, the fight, the struggle, the injustice directed to us and at us. The resentment our forefathers had about this injustice, to the point where they could not do anything about it but grit their teeth and bear it , for fear of extreme punishment or death and pray for a better day. That day is today. The parents should take the initiative, because it is their offspring, but where they go lacking, we must, all of us, teachers, pastors, parents, grandparents, church members take up the slack. We have children walking around who know nothing about their background. They have no appreciation for the ones who have gone before. They are so disrespectful, why? We have not taught them well. They have no idea where they are going, because they don’t know where they have been. The reason we have to tell the story, because all of the story is not in any books. Most of the contributors on this blog know what I mean, because they have experienced this injustice. Just to point, the person in the MIRROR is ALL of us, we have not done the job! So, Marian, you sound like you are connected to our work, maybe you can give insight on how we can get back to our roots by supporting a ministry that is dying! I invite others who are or have been connected to this ministry to speak out as to ways it can be revived. If it cannot be revived, then maybe we can go to electronic methods to do the same thing. I do know that when the ministry was fluorishing, you would see at least the Bible story in a lot of homes, and I know many adults now, that read those stories when they were young. What do the children of today have spiritual to read in their homes? I shutter at thinking of all that is missing that use to be prevalent.


  4. This reflection is so astonishing and revealing. Thank you so much for your thoughts and contribution.


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