Huntsville First Seventh-day Adventist Church Offers Sunday Services, Starting This Weekend

The Huntsville First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntsville, Alabama will begin offering a Sunday morning service called "Surge Church" this weekend. Billed as a casual, come-as-you-are worship service, the 10:00am event aims to attract "unchurched" community members, according to an article in AL.com, an Alabama-based media outlet. First Church senior pastor Debleaire K. Snell told AL that the congregation communicated their intent to South Central Conference leadership, who allowed the service to proceed.

"We have communicated to the Conference office (the regional center) because they wanted clarity on this, but once we communicated the purpose to them, they saw that it is not a big deal," Snell said, according to AL's report.

The article went on to note Snell's insistence that the new contemporary service would not supplant Saturday worship services at First Church, but would supplement them. The service will target non-members who may feel more comfortable with the idea of Sunday services as practiced in most Christian denominations.

The Huntsville First Church is less than two miles from the campus of Oakwood University, and all three of its pastors are Oakwood graduates.

According to the First Church website, Snell, a Florida native, graduated with a B.A. in theology from Oakwood in 1999, and graduated with his M.Div. from Andrews University in 2001. In the four years Snell has served as First Church senior pastor, the congregation has seen rapid growth. Snell has twice been named South Central Conference Pastor of the Year.

Alfonzo Green, pastor for Discipleship and Administration also received an M.Div. from Andrews, and is currently pursuing a D.Min. degree in Missional Leadership.

Alfred Hill, pastor for Visitation and Pastoral Care, served in several districts in Mississippi and Alabama before joining the Huntsville First Church staff.

Snell expects some current members to attend the new "Surge" Sunday service. According to the AL report,

Snell said that many of his members have said they're likely to come on Sunday even after attending the Saturday, 11:30 a.m., service. The Sunday service, he said, would be a bit shorter, more informal and more focused on teaching than the Saturday service.

But in case there was doubt about the congregation's beliefs about the Sabbath, the church's website spells them out. The church's statement of beliefs includes a paragraph entitled "Jesus' Day" that states,

JESUS' DAY comes each week on the seventh day (Saturday). He called Himself Lord of this day and He faithfully observed each Sabbath. Because He initiated it during creation week (before the entrance of sin), Jesus desired that all of His people would keep this day as a memorial to His creative power. He also reminded us that His Sabbath is a sign of His power to deliver us. It is, indeed, the Lord's Day. This weekly Sabbath is a foreshadowing of the rest Jesus will one day give His people in Heaven! Mark 2:27-28; Colossians 1:15-17;Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:1-11

Still, that did not seem to appease many concerned commenters on the AL.com article, who clearly considered holding services on Sunday anathema.

One commenter called Shaz said, "As an ex-Muslim who became a Seventh-day Adventist I have kept, to the best of my ability, the Sabbath of the Lord, not always perfectly, but always intent on it, and I want to add the Sabbath of the Lord is NOT Sunday!"

Another respondent, Rudy Butler, had stronger words still:

Wrong choice! A Seventh-day Adventist Church should not have the formal worship service on Sunday. Here are the reasons: Sabbath worship is one of the identifying marks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That day sets Seventh-day Adventists aside from all the other protestant churches. Having Sunday worship will confuse the world about who Seventh-day Adventists are.

Nevertheless, if the Huntsville First Church's recent growth is an indication of its successful attempts to bring in new members, this new service may be more of the same.

Jared Wright is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6612
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How cool that an Adventist church is starting to hold services on Resurrection Sunday! After all, it IS the recognized day of worship in most of the Christian world.

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Good on the church!

Regarding the naysayers - Somehow I never saw in any of the three versions of the 10 or so commandments anything about even going to church on Saturday - or about not being allowed to go to church or have worship on a Sunday.

Is this church service worshipping Sunday or Jesus? I see no indication of it be a Sunday-worshipping religious group.

I would have thought any conservative Adventist would be delighted that an evangelistic reaching out service would take place every Sunday?

Some conservative Adventists have weird thinking.

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AMAZING!! But it is about time!
I hope they have done their “homework” so they will provide a meaningful service for those whom they are wanting to attend. I hope the “conservative” church members do not “tie” the hands of the pastor so he can have nicely done guitars, drums, other instruments if wanted.
I would also suggest that the pastor have a short communion service each Sunday. One does NOT need footwashing. Takes only about 10 minutes. Say the words of Christ over the bread and wine. Have the people line up, break off a piece of bread, dip it in the cup of “wine” and go sit down.
Since it is a Worship service for the Community and NOT for the SDA members, I hope, again, that the horrified conservative members will not “tie” the hands and put Duct Tape over the mouth of the Pastor.
SDA churches SHOULD have been doing this a Very Long Time Ago.

WHY did the South Central Conference HAVE to give permission BEFORE the pastor and the congregation proceeded with this plan? What if the Suits in the Conference Office had said NO!? Would this have happened? Would the pastor and members have to “tuck their tails between their legs” and throw their plans in File 13? Was there a chance that the Conference Office would Micro-Manage the Worship Service Format?

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Read your history, folks. This is how Sunday-keeping came into the early church. One small step at a time.

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This person is obviously concerned only with the image of the Church, with no thoughts about the people in the community that may be reached by this new ministry on Sunday.

Churches could well have a short service on every day of the week. They don’t because they are not attractive enough. Having a service on Sunday does not mean they are changing the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday. In some parts of the world (like in Brazil, for instance) the SDA churches have services in the evening on Sundays and Wednesdays as a routine.

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Steve, they asked permission probably because they were concerned with some possible “grave consequences.” You know, this kind of threat is always part of the game. Also, the “suits” feel more in control when the church shown a submissive and obedient attitude…

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Most people with such heavy-handed theology don’t really seem capable of thinking outside the box. It seems as though theology must always come before people. They say with their lips, “Come as you are,” but their hearts and minds are far away from those words.

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George
IF they REALLY wanted to do something spectacular, they could go down to the city park where the Homeless hang out and provide a 15 minute Communion Service for them each Sunday and bring some snacks in sacks for them. This could be done in the Afternoon after the Morning Service.

It has been a mystery to me for a very long time as to Why we as SDAs are afraid to minister to the spiritual needs of people in an organized setting on Sunday. Or, to provide “Bread and Wine” without footwashing to those without the ability to afford to go to a Church Service, such as the Homeless. [Here in Macon the buses do not run on Sunday even if they wanted to take the bus to services.]

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“Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on
Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns,
and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance
and on true religious experience.” —9T 233.

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Robert, good to here from you again. Are you still in Guam? All the best.

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Kevin Name a time when it would be inappropriate to join in corporate worship of God? seem that Revelation speaks of constant praise of God in Heaven. If I operated a hospital,I would keep it open 24/7. so why not a pharmacy? I recall my dental practice days. everyone of my emergency calls came after sun down Fridays after I had showered and relaxed reading in my PJ’s. I answered the call.

I recall a weekend at a jewish resort in the Catskills. they sold the resort to a gentile just before sundown on Friday for a dollar and bought it back on Saturday sundown for a dollar.

The games people play with God.

the Sabbath was made for man, not for God. Tom Z

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When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures
233
to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws. {9T 232.4}
Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work, and will reach many souls. {9T 233.1}
Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way. {9T 233.2}
God has given us plain directions regarding our work. We are to proclaim the truth in regard to the Sabbath of the Lord, to make up the breach that has been made in His law. We are to do all that we can to enlighten those in ignorance; but we are never to confederate with men of the world in order to receive financial assistance. {9T 233.3}

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Just look back at the history of Alex Bryan and the The New Community
Church of Roswell debacle. This is what happens when you tamper with God’s true Sabbath and worship.

Started out as an SDA church plant with Alex. Went to dual services, followed shortly by going to exclusively Sunday services. Alex left and somehow eluded censure. Alex’s brother David now lead pastor.

http://thenewcommunitychurch.com/

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Thomas, I was there at NASDAD with you. If I recall this was in the late sixties or early seventies. I tell that story quite often.

A very poor reason to have Sunday services. Will they also downplay our distinctive doctrines so the attendees will “feel more comfortable?”

Lunacy, complete lunacy. (Excessive. - webEd) How many members will find it more convenient to attend on Sunday rather than Sabbath? Will the 3 angels’ messages be preached in the Sunday services? Will the Sabbath be proclaimed as the true day of worship? And how will they answer the questions from non-Adventists who may show up on Sunday; questions about why SDA’s are having church services on Sunday; or will they hide the sign that identifies it as a SDA Church?

If I recall correctly, these statements were made in the context of Sunday laws. When Sunday laws make it impossible to do our normal work, we are to do missionary work, hold meetings, etc., but these will in no way replace Sabbath worship. They will be like any other evangelistic meeting on any day of the week.

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There is no record of “Sunday keeping” in the early Christian church nor is there a record of gentile Christians “observing” the seventh day. They met on the seventh day in the synagogue, but that is no more keeping the seventh commandment than attending an evangelistic meeting for the general public on Friday night.

Meetings on the first day began to celebrate the Resurrection which, according to the NT was on the first day of the week; and also according to the NT it is the only reason there are Christians today. Had there been no Resurrection, you would not be a Christian today.

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Thanks, Dr.Wresch for reminding us of EGW’s remarks about holding revival meetings and singing praise on Sunday. This should be a reminder to all those who so often freely quote from her writings, that this idea was first a suggestion by her! It is a perfect solution to those who only think of “church” as a Sunday experience. Jesus went where people were, and didn’t limit his work to the synagogue; but many Adventists expect to have people change their life habits and customs overnight and attend church on Saturday. Where is it written that God cannot be worshiped on any day of the week, or any time??

Let’s hear from her devoted followers in answer to this.

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It makes me feel uneasy when respondents who believe in the Bible alone as authoritative use Mrs. White to support arguments or positions when it is convenient. That seems as unproductive as using Mrs. White to reinterpret scripture in support of an argument or position. Winning the argument seems more important than sharing ideas.It’s as if honesty is not a necessity. Machiavellian ethics.

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