By today, Pastor Gilberto Vega expected the news of the US Postal Service’s decision to change Loma Linda’s 80-year-old tradition of mail delivery on Sunday instead of Saturday to reach most of his congregation.
“The word was just started getting out,” Vega said. “We have not had a complete uproar. But we have a prayer service, our midweek service (tonight) and so I expect some very direct comments and reactions to that. I did get a call from someone concerned about that. She was aghast over the situation.”
The word is out. Starting April 23, mail will be delivered to Loma Linda residents on Saturdays for the first time in 80 years.
The U.S. Postal Service distributed notices alerting people to the change April 1. For a community that is home to numerous Seventh-day Adventist institutions, this means receiving mail on the Sabbath, observed from Friday night to sundown Saturday.
The change was necessary because of the cost of paying employees a Sunday premium, postal service officials said. Sunday delivery also means mail is delivered a day late.
The notices have touched off debate between those who value tradition and faith and those who need a more timely and practical mail delivery schedule in order to receive needed mail.
Acting postmaster Dan Mesa said the response he’s gotten has been mostly positive.
“A couple of people have questioned why,” Mesa said. “I got a couple of complaints, but also a lot of compliments.”
Mesa assured there will be no interference with anyone’s beliefs or faith.
“All we’re doing is delivering mail,” Mesa said.
The Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church made the following statement through Facebook: “The staff of Loma Linda University Church wish to express our appreciation to the United States Postal Service for honoring our members in the Loma Linda community by not delivering mail on Saturday, the Bible Sabbath, for the past 80 years. Our concern is now for those of our members or members of other local Seventh-day Adventist churches who may be forced to choose between honoring God and keeping their employment by this recent change in schedule.”
Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes Rigsby, who is also Adventist, said for the city government, this is not an issue.
“To me, it’s kind of nice, but not required (to have Sunday delivery),” he said. “Some Adventists get their mail on Saturday all around the world without being horribly offended. I can see how some people would be used to it and they would maybe want to petition to do it. And maybe they want to petition themselves.
“To me, the city government is Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Seventh-day Adventist, everything all at once,” he said. “It’s not a Seventh-day Adventist government.”