Perspectives, Stories, and Expectations: Adventist Forum Prepares to Celebrate its 50th Anniversary

What a year 1968 was. It started with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam that was such a disaster for the United States. In March, Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election. In April, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated prompting riots in 100 cities. Then in June, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. The summer Democratic Convention in Chicago saw more riots both outside and inside the convention hall where Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie were selected as the presidential and vice presidential candidates to run against Richard Nixon who won the November election.

Within the North America Adventist community that year, creative graduate students were holding meetings on university campuses in Massachusetts, Michigan, and California. They decided to work together and formed the Association of Adventist Forums. They initiated conversations with the church organization and received an official blessing for their efforts that soon came to include the publishing of Spectrum. From its first issue, the journal featured discussion of controversial issues, such as the Christian response to war. Creation was a major topic, so too evolution, Ellen G. White, church finances and structure, the lawsuit of Merikay Silver and Lorna Tobler against Pacific Press. But there was also celebration of the topic of Sabbath, of Revelation, of the creativity of Adventist writers, artists, theologians, and academics.

Fifty years later, while there is much to remember, there is also much to expect in the future for the organization that pioneered the publishing of independent Adventist news. Adventist Forum plans to celebrate those “Perspectives, Stories, and Expectations” at its conference September 14-16, 2018, on the campus of La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Historians Terrie Aamodt and Jonathan Butler will open the conference with presentations that consider what it means to write about Ellen White. Both are at work on books about the Seventh-day Adventist prophet. Aamodt is the first woman historian to write a biography of Mrs. White.

On Sabbath, as the topic turns to women in ministry, Kendra Haloviak Valentine will provide historical context for this ever-changing subject within Adventism. La Sierra University Church Pastor Chris Oberg will bring the morning’s worship homily.

A documentary about Roy Branson, the long-time editor of Spectrum, will be premiered on Sabbath afternoon in the Session where several Adventist Forum pioneers will be featured in a panel moderated by David Larson.

A gala celebration of Adventist Forum will be held Saturday evening at the Brandstater Art Gallery where an art exhibit of the works featured on the covers of Spectrum will be on display. It promises to be one of the most wide-ranging exhibits of Adventist art ever.

Science Sunday presentations will begin with an overview of Adventist science by James Hayward. Hayward edited the book Creation Reconsidered published by Adventist Forum. Fritz Guy and Brian Bull, authors of God, Land and the Great Flood, will provide the biblical portion of the day’s discussion. Geologist Gerald Bryant will speak about the way we interpret the geological record, followed by April Summitt who will bring the conversation to the present day concerns of water conservation in the West.

Renowned musical soloist Anthony Leon will be featured at programs throughout the weekend.

“We look forward to time together with Adventist Forum members, authors, scientists, and artists,” says Charles Scriven, president of the Adventist Forum Board of Directors. “As we celebrate the past we will also look to the future, and discuss our expectations for the years to come.”

Registration is now open for the Conference. Click here to register.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image credit: Spectrum

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

While our Adventist colleges have always had a stellar faculty, in the fifties and sixties, many SDA college professors merely had bachelor degrees and, at best, masters degrees. This did not impugn the quality of their teaching but it did become a problem when those colleges sought accreditation with state/national accrediting boards, since most non SDA centers of higher learning were populated with PhDs.

This was the impetus for many of our best and brightest to seek doctoral degrees. I still do not know if individual colleges/ conferences/ union conferences helped fund the expensive tuition for these aspiring young people. They should have!

So it was that in the late sixties, the city of Boston had a plethora of brilliant young Adventists pursuing their doctorates at Harvard, Boston University, and Tufts.

Among them, Roy Branson, Larry Geraty, Charles Teel amd Alvin Kwirum.

Also there were a number of Loma Linda graduates doing their medical specialty trading at the university hospitals in Boston. My wife and I both had junior faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School, since we were teaching medical residents and medical,students at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard’s anchor hospital.

Regrettably, the BOSTON TEMPLE, the Adventist Church on the fringe of downtown, was a failing inner city church with an elderly pastor, whose sermons were not intellectually stimulating. (Charles Teel later became the pastor there and revived the congregation).

What to do to keep the group of SDA graduate students stimulated ?

They did two things : They started their own stimulating Sabbath School class in the basement of the Boston Temple. Then they initiated a monthly potluck, followed,by a discussion group.

The venue? The stunning GREAT HALL of the Harvard Divinity School, to which our Harvard Adventist students had access.

Our monthly Sabbath afternoon meetings were grand. We were joined by the faculty from nearby Atlantic Union college, plus professional Adventists in the greater Boston area…

The format?. The delicious pot luck was followed,by a pertinent/provocative lecture/presentation . This launched an exhilarating, animated, lively discussion/debate. A great time was had by all.

It was then decided that some of the topics covered, deserved,a,wider audience for Adventist infellectuals world wide.

This was the impetus for SPECTRUM MAGAZINE.

The monthly meetings were such a grand success, it was decided that the same format should be followed in other large metropolitan areas which had graduate students, and Adventist professionals.

Thus was born the ADVENTIST FORUM.

It seems hard to believe that FIFTY years have elapsed since those days!

I have great nostalgia when remembering how my wife and I eagerly hastened to the GREAT HALL of the Harvard Divinity School,for,a stimulating exhilarating afternoon of thought provoking discussion.



First, for the Anniversary, of course.
Second, for choosing LSU for the celebration. I must say that you could not pick a better place! LSU is one of the Church’s windows to the future.

And,… I live ca. 2 miles from the University. You definitely picked the right place for this Conference! :wink: