The National Service Organization (NSO) is the military relations office of the Seventh-dayAdventist Church; its main office is located at the church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Originally organized in 1918 as the War Service Commission, NSO has served as a link between our active duty members and the church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not encourage its young people to join the armed forces; nevertheless, it is a fact that many Seventh-day Adventist youth and young adults join the different branches of our military. When this happens the Seventh-day Adventist Church must continue to minister, love, and support, the Adventist soldier.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES FOR THE NATIONAL SERVICE ORGANIZATION (for service man & women serving in the different branches of the military & their families)
1. Assure that each possible Adventist Youth, Young Adult, or Adults who is thinking of joining the arm forces, will receive an orientation, before joining.
2. Minister to each Atlantic Union Adventist serviceman and servicewoman, once they have joined the military service and while deployed through National Service Organization Kits and regular attention from the local church.
3. To observe the National Service Organization Awareness Day annually in the Churches of the Atlantic Union Conference.
4. To produce a resource, which includes a Sabbath Program for churches, highlighting what military life is like and how to minister to the families of the military.
Dedication Ceremony for Adventist Soldiers
Whenever a young man or a young woman from one of our churches joins the military, the local church must conduct a dedication service on his/her behalf. The dedication could take place during the worship service; following you can see a sample of the service:
The Pastor/Elder calls the young soldier to the podium.
The Pastor/Elder expresses words of encouragement and thanksgiving to the soldier for committing to serve the country. A few words regarding the faithfulness to God and God’s protection in times of crisis are very appropriate at this time.
The Pastor/Elder presents the National Service Organization Kit* to the soldier.
The Pastor and the Elders of the church surround the soldier and have a special prayer of dedication and protection for him/her.
*The National Service Organization Kit can be obtained at the Adventist Youth Ministries Department of your local Conference. The Kit contains a small pocket size: Bible, Bible Textionary, and Steps to Christ. It also contains a NSO Subscription card, which if filled out, entitles the soldier to receive two Adventist publications plus the Sabbath School Quarterly and the Adventist Review while he/she is on active duty.
(Conscientious Objection to Bearing Arms)
The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially organized during a tragic civil war that divided the United States of America (1861-1865). Early in their denominational formation Adventists were confronted with the dilemma of how to fulfill civic and faith relationships responsibly, especially when temporal and religious obligations were in apparent conflict. After much prayerful and thorough study early church leaders concluded that the best position to adopt was the principle of noncombatancy. This stance was officially registered with the United States federal government in 1864 and has remained the position of Seventh-day Adventists ever since.
Noncombatant service and training is defined as follows:
1. The term “noncombatant service” shall mean (a) service in any unit of the armed forces which is unarmed at all times; (b) service in the medical department of any of the armed forces, wherever performed; or (c) any other assignment of the primary function of which does not require the use of arms in combat; provided that such other assignment is acceptable to the individual concerned and does not require them to bear arms or to be trained in their use.
2. The term “noncombatant training” shall mean any training which is not concerned with the study, use, or handling of arms or weapons.
The official stand of the Church was reaffirmed by action taken at the 1972 Annual Council of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held 14 – 29 October in Mexico City, Mexico:
Genuine Christianity manifests itself in good citizenship and loyalty to civil government. The breaking out of war among men in no way alters the Christian’s supreme allegiance and responsibility to God or modifies their obligation to practice their beliefs and put God first.
This partnership with God through Jesus Christ who came into this world not to destroy men’s lives but to save them causes Seventh-day Adventists to advocate a noncombatant position, following their divine Master in not taking human life, but rendering all possible service to save it. As they accept the obligation of citizenship as well as its benefits, their loyalty to government requires them willingly to serve the state in any noncombatant capacity, civil or military, in war or peace, in uniform or out of it, which will contribute to saving life, asking only that they may serve in those capacities which do not violate their conscientious convictions.
This statement is not a rigid position binding church members, but gives guidance leaving the individual member free to assess the situation for her or himself.
When national laws permit options, church members, in making a personal decision on how to fulfill obligated terms of service to their country, should first consider the historic teaching of the Church on noncombatancy. If because of personal convictions they choose otherwise, pastors, chaplains, teachers or other church workers should aid the member in satisfying any legal requirements for securing their choice and should minister to the member’s spiritual needs as follows:
a. For those choosing civilian alternative service in lieu of military service, pastoral counsel and guidance should be provided when it is established that such a request is based on consistent religious experience. Pastors, chaplains, teachers, or other church workers should provide statements of their personal knowledge of the member’s position on the following: (1) church membership, (2) attendance and participation in services of the church, (3) personal standards of conduct, (4) previous expressions of belief supporting the request for exemption. Those providing such statements should request government officials to respect and honor the individual’s personal convictions.
b. For those who conscientiously choose military service as a combatant, pastoral counsel and guidance should be provided in ministering to their needs since the Church refrains from passing judgment on them.
Notice that the Seventh-day Adventist Church advocates a noncombatant position,
but does not require it. Thus, some church members are willing to train with and use weapons; while others cannot, because of their own individual conscience, have anything to do with weapons or military service. Historically, most Seventh-day Adventists have served as noncombatant medics for several reasons: (1) Such service minimizes Sabbath conflicts (saving and maintaining life is honorable on Sabbath), and (2) Such service is more in harmony with the Church’s stated recommendation.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not seek to be the conscience for any member or commander. But we do seek to inform the conscience and behavior of both, so decisions can be made with maximum understanding and thought.
Information provided by Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904. For further information, please contact ACM by calling (301) 680-6780.