IN n’ OUT: Annual Council Diary, October 6

The conversation about Global Missions continued on Friday with a panel discussion by members of Adventist Services International, an organization active in creating centers of influence around the world. The title “Urban Centers of Influence (UCI)” is one that comes from Ellen G. White. She envisioned them connecting the church to the community. The Office of Adventist Mission is working to revitalize the concept and to establish a network of self-sustaining UCI’s in key urban areas around the world.

For those interested in establishing a UCI, Jeff Scoggins detailed the new process, which he said they would be tweaking to make it work. Research comes first, and is being newly emphasized in the choosing of a city or region with few or no Adventists. That idea is then to be shared with the Office of Adventist Mission to see if fits with their priorities. Next the Mission office will respond with the potential for funding. Establishing a service that meets a community need follows. There relationships are built, and new groups can be started. For people with a secular mindset, a church is off limits, it was pointed out. But secular people will respond to something for a specific need such as a health program. The hope is that they will go from being interested in a health program to being interested in other spiritual things. But the big question remains, how will the gap be bridged between offering services and establishing new groups of believers. Think about it. Work on it, the audience was told. “We don’t necessarily know the answers.”

As to the finances for the UCI, which are intended to be self-sustaining operations, currently the Office of Adventist Mission is able to offer up to 60% of project costs, up to $150,000. Divisions, unions, and conferences have to find at least 40% of the cost for an urban center of influence.

During the question and answer session following the financial presentation by Jeff Scoggins, Dr. Neil Nedley of Weimar Institute went to the microphone and said that Weimar has been studying that question of how the jump is made from specific-need programs to church programs. He said that when they treat patients for health needs they also talk with them about spiritual needs and they have come up with ways to bridge that gap.

The rest of the morning was taken up in a discussion of Ellen White’s vision for the cities. Did she offer conflicting advice, asked David Trim, the director of the Office for Archives, Statistics and Research? “Out of the cities, out of the cities, this is the message that the Lord has given me,” he quoted her saying in the sermon that marked the opening of the health work in Loma Linda, California. But she also said, in 1909, that work in the city is the work for the end times. “There is no change in the messages that the Lord has sent me in the past. The work in the cities is essential work for this time.” Trim maintained that these are not conflicting views. At times, in her writing, she is setting out principles, but at other times she is addressing a particular set of circumstances. He urged studying her holistically, in the round, and not proof texting her. Circumstances change the relations of things, she said.

President Ted N.C. Wilson also spent much of his time at the close of the conference addressing this issue. It has been a confusing item for many years, he said. All of you need to do in-depth study. “Ellen White does not contradict herself. There is an in concept and an out concept and they will merge. The time will come when the Lord himself will tell people when to move out of the cities, but it will be the Holy Spirit that tells them, not a proclamation from this headquarters. When the Sunday laws come, you will know it is time to leave the cities.”

He reminded the audience of statistics that had been shared earlier, that now, over 50% of the world population lives in metropolitan areas and by 2050, it will be 70%. That means it will be harder and harder to find rural areas. “I lived in a 10th floor apartment in Moscow, I know that life. But that is not God’s ideal,” he said.

GC Secretary GT Ng upped Ted on his apartment story and got a good laugh. “While Ted lived on the 10th floor in Moscow, I lived on the 25th floor in Singapore. When Jesus comes, I’ll go to heaven first.”

Ted said that would be okay with him. He just wants Jesus to come.

He also previewed the coming days saying that his Sabbath sermon would also be on the cities. And looking to the rest of the meeting, he said, “I don’t want you to leave Annual Council thinking that one particular session had precedence over another. We are going to have a challenge before us on Monday afternoon. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be here to unite us for mission and bring a sweet spirit. But I don’t want that to be what you take away from Annual Council. I want you to take from this place the enormous challenge to the SDA church.

That the instructions in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are all things that God wants us to understand are achievable not through our own power, but our God is able. He wants us to reach the cities. . . The huge challenge remains.”

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image Credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8290

The President’s calm before the storm?

“Where” and “when” are relevant, but the main question is “what” is our message!

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I have fallen to the floor, am flat on my back, and I can’t get up, upon learning that the following statement was uttered by the President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:

“Ellen White does not contradict herself. There is an in concept and an out concept and they will merge. The time will come when the Lord himself will tell people when to move out of the cities, but it will be the Holy Spirit that tells them, not a proclamation from this headquarters. When the Sunday laws come, you will know it is time to leave the cities.”

Let us in all charity stress that every Christian impulse begs us not to underestimate another person’s intellectual capability and attachment to reality. How can I say this? I can bear with Ted Wilson’s usual banalities and clichés. I just presume that I am not within his target audience. But this particular statement of his stuns and alarms me.

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They’re still predicting a universal world wide Sunday law? Predicting that the governments of 195 countries will pass laws that indicate everyone must attend a Christian church on Sunday? Have you thought clearly about what sort of altered reality we’d have to live in for that to actually happen? It’s not realistically possible on many levels.

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aAs I stated in my post to DAY ONE of LEAD ON, we already have spent a fortune on our city evangelism in the 1960’s/1970’s.

We spent a king’s ransom in the sixties, leasing a cinema, to use as an evangelistic center, on LONDON’S most prestigious street (Regent Street -a heavily trafficked pedestrian pavement,
a few hundred yards from Piccadilly Circus, London’s vibrant heart.)

It could not have been more optimally located, more centrally situated, nor in a more prestigious location, being in upscale Mayfair, London’s most socially acceptable residential quarter, a hub of private clubs, luxury hotels, fashion boutiques and mega mansions.

The “ brethren “ were truly fortunate to have acquired such a “providential “ position.

Every energy, every avenue, was expended, from health message outreach, to every form of evangelistic proselytizing, over the many years this evangelistic center was in operation.

Yet, decades later, there are fewer native born British Adventists than there were back then. (Although our London churches are filled and numerous with ethnic immigrant populations, who were largely converted in the lands from which they came ).

Similarly, we had an optimal location, just off TIMES SQUARE , for our NEW YORK evangelistic building. Times Square is the vibrant heart of New York, so easily accessible by subway trains as well as trains from nearby New Jersey and Long Island.

Again, every type of outreach was optimized to reach Manhattan’s millions.
But the pickings were paltry —few baptisms.

To this day, no large Adventist congregations exist on Manhattan Island.

I hate to be a pessimistic “party pooper “ but the PIPE DREAMS, pontificated by our president, despite our prophet’s prevarications about “end times”,
are pathetic —a déjà vu of previous failures.

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Ellen said it, so…it’s absolutely true and will happen.

Yes…see explanation above. :wink:

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The BIGGER question remains until Monday, how will the gap be bridged between proclaiming to the big cities “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is [aj]neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” and yet adhereing to "ordained (only males) and commissioned (females eligible) ministers in our church WHILE maintaining a straight face.

Reminds me of the 60’s song:
“Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me.”

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Those were very good observations and, whether you realize it or not, evidence that conversionary “faith DOES NOT come by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rather, such faith comes by association, by the invitation of good friends. Look at Paul’s journeys and letters. His success was through the foundation already laid by the Jews in synagogues. Even of Jesus, it is written, “Then [He] returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” (Luke 4:14-17)

A successful ministry (in any democracy) must begin from within the gathering of people already predisposed to hearing a new thing. THAT, or abandon democracy altogether like the early European colonists did around the world, and bring people into the faith by coercion or strong worldly inducements (positions of control and government, for instance).

If SDA were smart, they’d encourage their young people to get married and have lots of babies so that 10 years from now, instead of being a mere 18, they’d be 36 million members strong and counting worldwide, flooding the cities with little people everywhere every Saturday.

See Exodus 1:9,19 – “And [the Pharaoh of Egypt] said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we!’ … And the [Hebrew] midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘… the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.’

See what I mean?

///

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I think the day of church health programs as evangelism is nearly at an end. Society is filled with almost an endless stream of health promotions, books and seminars. Google and Med-search can find solutions to almost any condition, without the SDA church.

Furthermore the SDA health message is outdated. No SDA hospital would consider the using hot and cold water. EGW even went so far as to say that “Christ… did not give countenance to drug medication, He sanctioned the use of simple and natural remedies.” Which was the use of hot and told water.

“Let the nurses in our sanitariums show that in the solemn work of caring for the sick, they do not rely on drug medication, but on the power of Christ, and the use of the simple remedies that He has provided,—the application of hot and cold water and simple, nourishing food, without intoxicating liquor of any kind, with judicious exercise, and a putting away of all injurious practices. In treatment such as this there is health for the sick.” EGW

EGW believed that religion was the best cure for mental health issues. “The religion of Christ, so far from being the cause of insanity, is one of its most effectual remedies; for it is a potent soother of the nerves.” I don’t think many therapist would agree. Maybe I am wrong, is religion good therapy?

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Elmer Cupino’s sharing of Monday Morning by the Mamas and Papas was a grand slam home run type comment that deserves whatever Adventist “Pulitzer” prize for wise writing. In one version of the song there are some more wise lyrics:
"But Monday mornin’, Monday mornin’ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin’ you would still be here with me."

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Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Public evangelism in cities, especially in western world, is repeated over and over again with same bad results. I’ve been for some time in executive committees from conferences to division level and all the time I have seen the same results: the majority of new members came from Adventist families and from friendships between members and other people.
Public evangelism in cities is pure money squandering. It was promoted in seventies when present president of GC was doing his doctoral dissertation and now again when he is the boss. It didn’t work then, it doesn’t work today and it will never work. Only repeating the quotes from 19th century EGW writings, as she saw the cities in that time, and trying to apply them in 21st century cities won’t do any difference. I must say that some otherwise smart people in GC are only repeating the things they know their president likes to hear. It is very sad to see this happen. Only to maintain their jobs and to have the feeling that they do something on their posts, they make the plans which will meet the demands of their boss. The things on the ground, in various fields, especially in western countries are totally different. In our local churches we only can do what is best applying for us, what works and what brings success. And it is personal evangelism: friendship with other people and vibrant church life.
All this administration which we pay for are thinking they have to earn their salaries and are very busy - but with what?
There’s nothing universal. Everything is locally dependent. So their contribution is in vain.
It’s time to rethink what does Adventist church need: A huge and expensive administration with no use? - or -Very small administration and thus more money on local and regional levels for real projects?
Let us be wise and abandon the insanity of doing the same things which don’t work.

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For ALL OF THEIR PH.Ds of ALL the delegates there from around the world they apparently see Paul [and Peter, James, and John] as VERY Outdated in their focuses on Evangelism.

Paul in his letter to the Romans this Quarter preaches Christ, the Passion Week and Cross of Christ, and what the SUFFERING GOD of both the Old AND New Testament has done for mankind.
Paul did the same thing in Galatians, and added that it is the Work of the Holy Spirit to take us out of our childish, adolescent behaviors and help us to Grow Up to Adult, Mature behaviors [Gal 5].

As has been ALREADY said by others here on this page, there are lots and lots of health education programs in the cities being offered. Considering the size of my local population – about 80,000, MAYBE 10% of those do an activity program or attend a health fair in the year.
Someone ALSO mentioned on Spectrum that about 90% of SDA Evangelism budget is GEARED TOWARD those who ARE ALREADY Christians.

WE NEED more with the mind-set of Paul when it comes to Evangelism.
HOWEVER ---- His Program IS TOO SIMPLE.
AND — It DOES NOT STROKE the EGO.

EDIT-- From Page 3 of the current Romans S.S. Lesson Quarterly.
"We are Seventh day Adventists, and we rest upon the principle of SOLA SCRIPTURA-- Scripture ALONE."
This statement by the MANY WRITERS of the Quarterly assures us that ALL of our 28 Doctrinal Beliefs come FROM THE BIBLE–SCRIPTURE. [NO OUTSIDE SOURCES].
[THIS is ALL I am going to post on this subject.]

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and sometimes egw is talking about completely different things…her “in concept” has to do with bringing the three angels’ messages into the cities - into the ghettos, the airports, the train stations, the malls, the residential areas - because that’s where people are…her “out concept” has to do with escaping evil influences, especially in the case of people raising families…

egw isn’t saying to preach in the cities in one place, and then saying to not preach in the cities in another place, which would be a contradiction…nor is she saying to raise families in cities in one place, but counseling them to move out of cities in another place, which would be another contradiction…i think people think egw’s message on cities is confusing because they themselves are confused…they aren’t tapping into what she’s talking about, at all…

It seems that a lot of people here don’t like Ted Wilson and don’t like Ellen White and don’t like traditional Adventist teachings that most of the church still believes. Just saying…

[quote=“sdaequalitynow1, post:15, topic:14436”]It seems that a lot of people here don’t like Ted Wilson and don’t like Ellen White and don’t like traditional Adventist teachings that most of the church still believes. Just saying…
[/quote]

I know right? They tend to like the bible though, notice?

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Sola Scriptura is held high here. And Christ. The Trinity. God the Father. Love your neighbor as yourself.

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Do you have stats? I suspect that if they were to carefully read the 28 fundamental beliefs the majority of Adventists would object to more than one of them.

Have you read them? Do you know in detail what they mean? I’ve tried and can’t agree with most of them for various reasons, but the most common is that they are indecipherable as if written by a committee to be purposefully unclear.

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