Dear Five Oaks Family:
Our hearts ache and we know that yours do as well. You are hurting for many of the same reasons, and for different ones as well. For ALL of us, the past several weeks, the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others before them, have left us all feeling broken, and they have shed light on feelings, and on pain that is often swept under the rug. These, by far, are some of the most concerning times that we have faced. We are broken and confused. To anyone who has ever experienced racism, fear, or social inequality, we hear you, and we are listening to your stories. To our brothers and sisters in the black community, our hearts break for the injustice and struggle that many of you have endured in our society, and we are listening for ways that we can help and stand with you.
In this time of searching for answers, here are a few things that we do know...In a church where diversity has not always been prevalent, to be a part of a church that is representative of so many ages, religions, beliefs, ethnicities and races, is something that has made us very proud over the years. To see us all grow together, as a united family, no matter our differences, is something that we have had the opportunity to celebrate. It is because of this, that we have an opportunity to influence change.
We are in a time where silence is not ok, and leadership, being a voice, and an example to others, and to other organizations is crucial. This is a time in which we can stand together as a family and show everyone exactly what strength and power in diversity is like. When our church family represents such vast backgrounds, we can unite and lead positive conversations, and lead cultural change in our community. Our church is the example. What is happening in our world is not ok. Racism is a sin. Only the love of Christ can overcome this problem, and we believe that He is calling us to action to show His transformative love during this time. We would like to ask each of you to first, take a moment of silence and/or pray. Then, we would like you to reflect and consider what we can do, together and individually, to lead positive change, and show others how diversity on every level is far more powerful than inequality and disparity. Your leadership team would love your ideas. Please email them to the pastor or any board member whose email addresses are listed on the right side of this page. We have already had several board members reach out to have meaningful conversations and we have ideas that we look forward to sharing, and actions that we look forward to taking.
Please know that you are each loved and that you are all heavy in our hearts and minds. We are honored to be partnered with such an amazing group of members, and with such a diverse and culturally sound church family.
Yours in Christ,
Five Oaks Seventh-day Adventist Church Board:
Will Oosthuizen, Pastor
Roy Terretta, Head Elder
Nyamweya Omundi, Elder
Steven Champion, Elder, Head Teacher/Principal
Busa Ponalo, Head Deacon
Jane Hamilton, Head Deaconess
Leyte Rivera, Treasurer
Hansford Hendargo, Clerk
Pat Kelley, Sabbath School Superintendent
Michael Folkes, Health Ministries Director
Saul Rivera, Building Committee Head
Miguel Marquez, Audio/Visual Head
Danny Hamilton, Communications & Safety Head
Noble Obodum, Youth Ministries Rep., Webmaster & Social Media Director