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Let's Change Our Words

"Words rightly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver" Proverbs 10:10

By Barrington H. Brennen

For many decades, we have used certain terms to refer to people, events, or organizations in our church. Today we are learning that some of these terms are not healthy or proper and do reveal who we truly are. This new culture of understanding and being more sensitive about people and their needs is being brought to us by the Special Needs Ministries of the Adventist Church. Below is a list of terms that we should avoid as presented by Special Needs Ministries. I will also add a few more important ones to the list. Here are a few of these words we should not use and the alternatives to be used:


“SHUT-IN” – It has been a practice to refer to members who are unable to come out of their homes as “Shut-In” members. The correct term is “AT-HOME” members or “Sick and living at home.” The term “Shut-In” is negative. It suggests that these persons are being held inside their homes by a force outside themselves. It really does not sound right. Hence, do not use “Shut-in” again; neither from the pulpit, in the bulletin, or in conversation.


“SDA” – Most of us feel it is appropriate to use “SDA” as an abbreviation for our name “Seventh-day Adventist” since it is so long; but that is a gross misunderstanding. We have been instructed by the General Conference Communication Department that our name is not “SDA.” This acronym can have several meanings and we always want people to know who we are without a doubt or question. Officially, the only abbreviation of our name is “Adventist.” We are told never to use “SDA” on T-shirts, posters, banners, letter heads, tickets, plaques, church signs, websites, etc., not even orally. Many years ago, I received a plaque from a church expressing their thanks to me for my service to them with words “From the PTSDAC” on it. Although I knew the name of the church well, it took me several hours to figure out that “PTSDAC” meant “Prince Town Seventh-day Adventist Church.” The truth is, strangers to the church would never know either. Thus, it should always be clear what is being stated. Please don’t use “SDA” anymore in print or verbally. Have you ever heard the Baptist refer to themselves as “B” or Catholics as “C”? Our name is the best marketing tool we have. Be proud of our name: Seventh-day Adventist.


“VICTIM OF AIDS” – Funny, it took me a little while to understand, even as a psychologist, that I was using the wrong term. The proper term is “persons living with AIDS.” This is a more sensitive and understanding terminology. Remember, our words must be seasoned with grace always.


Handicapped Disabled
RetardedCongenital disease
Stroke victimHad a stroke
Wheelchair boundUses a wheelchair
Crippled, withered, maimedUnable to walk, or describe the condition
Blind as a bat, four eyesWears glasses or contact lenses
Arthritics, epilepticHas arthritis, has epilepsy

CHURCH LOGO [ Update April 12, 2017 ]

Image result for NEW seventh day adventist logoWHO CAN USE THE CHURCH LOGO? – Most of us are aware of the official logo of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is our first official logo, although some thought the three angles flying around the world was an official one, but it was not. Many churches just used it, but it was never discussed and agreed upon by our world leaders. The logo includes in the graphics the Bible, cross, and the flame of the Holy Spirit going around the earth. Here are some key facts: The colors of the logo are very important. When more than one color is being used to print the logo, the official colors must always be used- green and yellow. The color is a direct color code. We are not allowed to choose any color we want. If there is one color for everything being used, there is some flexibility. For example, the gold-looking metallic signs at the Conference headquarters, Johnson Park Church, etc. Note that the New Englerston Church sign is one color (purple) and is made from plastic from the official sign company authorized by the world church. When printing, there is a font to be used by printers (Goudy Old Style and Futura). Finally, only official organizations of the church can use the logo; Not individuals and groups that are not a part of the church. These organizations are churches, schools, hospitals, printing presses. Remember, you are not free to use the logo simply because you are an Adventist. Do you realize that not even 3ABN can use the church’s logo, because it is not owned by our church. It is only for official Adventist organizations

[ This is a new update on the logo ] Note that in April 2017, there was an official adjustment to the church's logo to make it more universal. The fonts are changed to a new photo called "Advent Sans." This new font will allow our name to be printed in 91 languages using the same font. Adventist News states: "Using the new font “Advent Sans,” the new visual identity is functional and consistent in every language where the church is present. By using “Advent Sans,” the name of the Adventist Church can be written in 91 languages. Project leaders hope this grows to 200 languages by 2020" [ See Sample ]

"Another change is the color scheme for the logo. Because the Adventist Church contains a myriad of cultures and design styles, it was found to be ineffective and cost-prohibitive to recommend a universal color system or even a large number of regionally appropriate color systems. This means, local designers and church leaders will be able to choose what works best for them, in their region. The guidelines include the initial set colors and the communication department of the world church stands ready to extend it as needed by different regions. (See example)" See Adventist Identity Guidelines System

Here is the church logo with the new fonts. Note that the old one still remains official if in use.

Image result for Adventist new logo


USER-FRIENDLY TERMS: This one might be more applicable to news writers or public announcements. It is not always needed to give the formal name of the organization when speaking publicly or even in news for official news items. Sometimes the formal name causes more confusion or raises questions. For example, when communicating to the public, instead of saying or writing “Pastor Paul Scavella is the president of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.” It is better to say, “Pastor Paul Scavella is the president of the Adventist churches in the Southern Bahamas. Sometimes the terms “Conference” and “Union” do not really relay the message we want to give to those who do not know. Instead saying, Pastor Leonard Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, say, Pastor Leonard Johnson, president of the Adventist Church in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands. The point is, it is usually wiser to use terms to describe who we are or an institution than to give the actual formal name. Our message must always be clear.


PLEASE SAY THE WORD “HAITIAN”: Too often the word “Haitian” is used in a demeaning way. On the other hand, we often refer to people of Haitian decent as our “French” brethren. Perhaps we think “Haitian” is a bad term. It is not. Haitians are proud to be called Haitians and are not “French.” They do not want to be called French. Please, let us honor them by proudly calling them who they are, Haitians. They are descendants of the first independent country in the Caribbean, with the oldest university in the region, and the largest mahogany market in the world—a beautiful country and beautiful people.

Dear members, let us seek to always season our words with grace. Let our words uplift and not tear down. “Words rightly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver” ( Proverbs 10:10).

Send your responses/comments or questions to


Below is the recently voted adjustment to the church logo

Image result for NEW seventh day adventist logo

Below is the first official logo. Note the correct colors

Image result for NEW seventh day adventist logo

Below note same for website or letter head

Image result for NEW seventh day adventist logo