Remembering Morris Venden

I was about to begin my education at Andrews University. Morris Venden had just returned from China. My parents were in the middle of their divorce and I had traveled to Azure Hills with my father for church.

On that Sabbath Pastor Venden reflected on the billions of people who were not Seventh-day Adventists around the world and did not turn to evangelistic platitudes as had the pastors of my youth.

Pastor Venden said something in his sermon that day, the exact words of which I cannot quite remember, but the truth of it made me realize that Adventists will never offer the entire living world the Three Angels' Messages. He seemed fine with that. Instead he focused his sermon on the God-man who turned water into wine, subverted the religious hierarachy, and cared for the least of these.

I still remember that my thinking shifted. My teenage flitations with literalism seemed small-minded. The picayune parsing of texts seemed pathetic to this larger idea: God became human to make the world righteous.

That day I remember Pastor Venden seemed almost melancholy in his homiletical reflection. The man who dedicated me as an infant to God in an Adventist church quoted a statistic about the rates of births and deaths in the world. More humans are coming than going. It was clear that the rhetoric promolgated by traditional evangelists was false. Adventism would never go into all the world, or give everyone a chance. Texts or globalized tracts were not the key to truth.

Venden spoke reasonably and as a result I reflected more on my faith.

In that center of powerful Adventist institutions I realized that Adventism was historically contingent and yet more than a remnant. I left Pastor Venden's sermon with hope in my Adventist heritage and a new awareness of what it means to be human—not in light of some fantastic future, not because of some miraculous past, not because of my church presence.

I still remember his fearless openness. By honestly facing the challenges of that present, he pointed me toward the great eternal truth—divine righteousness is made present in humanity.

For the passing of that witness, I mourn. And yet, that kernal of social justice carries me on—the power of incarnated righteousness prevails over all. If we act by faith.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5078
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Thank you for your memories about Morris Vendon. He was used mightily by our Lord, Jesus over the years to teach truth in s practical, honest and down to earth way. Morris Vendon said many times that the only way a person is a Christian is by that person knowing Christ personally on an ongoing daily basis

Perhaps, other persons remember hearing Morris Vendon preach (more like teach) in the mid 1970’s on cassatte tapes which were available and well circulated in thr Adventist world in North America, at least. His humorous and down to earth illustrations of how to livr the Christian life on a practical basis were tremendously helpful to me as a young man new in the Christian faith. As a brand new Seventh Day Adventist Christian attending Thd St. Helena SDA Church fellowship meal after worship service one Sabbath in thrfall of 1971, mg wife snd I had the privilege of conversation while eating with Morris Vendon’s father who shared stories with us of his being and evangelist in North America with his brother. I think he made reference to his sons Morris and Louis Vendon following in yhrvpath of ministry as yheir father and uncle. What a nice man

The “More About Jesus Seminar” with Morris Vendon and his son Lee Vendon apparently took place at Walla Walla in 2009. The seminar, with its talks between father and son, and the excellent sermons by Morris and Lee Vendon, is excellent and highly recommended “watching” by everyone. What is most interesting to me is how intellectually and spiritually astute the messages by Morris Vendon are, how full of practical, insightful Bible truth these sermons are as he presents them throughout the seminar. All his sermons point clearly to Jesus; the way, the truth, and the life. Ghis is rvrn more remarkable because at yhe time of thd seminar, Morris Vendon would have been 77 years old and had been already suffering from a rare and terminal form of dementia called FTD (frontal temporal lobe dementia) for about six years, and reported by his Lee and other appeared to be suffering from full blown dementia until he went up on the platform to discuss Christian matters with Lee before the seminar audience, or he got up front to preach of to pray. Some may disagree, but to me, Mortis Vendon’s participation in the More About Jesus is a marvelous recurring miracle for thr purpose of his sharing the results of more that 40 years of faithful powerful ministry, revealing the beauty of Christ’s love and glory the way of salvation, and something supernatural in what is happening to and with the messenger (Morris Vendon). God honored His servant each night of the seminar because his servant’s purpose and desire was to honor Him and help souls find their way into the saving snd overcoming personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is life in a look at the uplifted Savior on the cross; “look and live.”