The Conference on the Contours of European Adventism (Day One)

Friedensau Adventist University in the former East Germany is deeply rooted in the history of Adventism. Its Institute of Adventist Studies has chosen as the subject for its Third Symposium: “The Contours of European Adventism.” It’s a time of reflection on identity and mission for European Adventist scholars from East and West. Between forty and fifty people in two concentric circles – some presenters, others “guest auditors” participate in a round-table discussion. We are meeting in the Friedensau “Aula” – a light and airy room with twelve large windows looking out on the campus trees, blossoming now in the German spring.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank you Dr. Helen Pearson for your vivid and illuminating analysis of the historical and cultural context of European expression of Adventism.
It is important to consider the enormous stresses all families encounter in the process of acculturation due to sudden and radical shifts in family dynamics. Parents, from recently migrated families from Europe often are aligned with the culture of the country of origin, while their offspring are likely to adapt to the dominant culture more rapidly. This often leads to intergenerational conflicts that our church is ill-equipped to deal with.

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Thank you Helen, for such a nice summary of what happens so close by :wink:
And thank you, SPECTRUM for putting European Adventism on the map. Too often “Adventism” is defined by its American version. There actually might be more…
Finally - I am glad that Friedensau Adventist University is being described a little. Truly a gem of a place, well worth finding out more about. But then - I gladly admit, I am biased. :sunglasses:


Interesting stuff. For some reason some of the experiences recounted above reminded me of an interesting interfaith podcast conversation with a couple UK Adventists. I remember thinking at the time that some of the answers they gave during this dialogue were much more “mainstream” than I would have expected from within my American SDA perspective.

Actually, I bet a number of folks in the Spectrum community would really enjoy the Unbelievable? podcast. It’s from a large London Christian radio station, and features interfaith dialogues on apologetics, science and faith, philosophy and theology. It’s rare to hear honest, civil and thoughtful dialogue on these “big questions” of life the universe and everything. And I swear, I get nothing from this plug, it’s just a good show. :slight_smile:

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this discussion brings a thought to my mind.
There have been a lot of American students who have taken studies in various European
SDA Universities.
Do these students come back home with a different view of SDA than when they left.
And, if so, has their views of American SDAism changed? Do they keep these views
for life, or do they lose them after re-emerging into American SDA-ism?

OR, when they attend studies in Europe, are they too ISOLATED from mainstream European
Adventism to even know they have left “home”?


Thank you, Helen.

I attended the last two of these Friedensau meetings, and both were, for both their candor and collegiality, just wonderful. I pray that God blesses every conversation!



My grandmother was jailed for her Adventist faith in Finland, and accused of being a “Jew spy”, arising from her refusal to bake karjalanpiirakat on sabbath during the “Winter War” of '39.
She was baptized by early Scandinavian SDA pioneer Väinö Bernhard Kohtanen. He was an early evangelist, charismatic speaker, president of Toivonlinnan Yhteiskoulu, and later, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Finland. She bore 13 children, lived nearly a hundred years, and never lost her faith despite all that she faced. Sisu!


Speaking of Dr Mike Pearson’s paper, Helen said:

Great point Mike! As I remember it, the early American leaders of the Adventist movement in the UK struggled to understand that missionary methods that worked superbly in America had to be modified or even abandoned in England. One must also teach prophecy with a truly global perspective and a locational sensitivity. Yet the major pillars of our faith remain the same wherever we are!

That’s true, European Adventism should be much more "on the map."

Yes, European Adventism should be on the map, and especially the PvdD brand of independent but deeply scriptural thinking. We as Adventists are much too timid when it comes to the ramifications of 'Fearing the God who made" the animals and the earth’s climate systems. If we are keeping Sabbath to honor God as Creator, we must not be known as unhealthy, overweight dessert crazed and reluctant vegetarians, very poor recyclers, climate change deniers, or gas guzzling speed limits scoffers. All these elements of American Adventist culture need to be dramatically addressed and sent to the ‘dust bin of history’! Let us be witnesses for Jesus in new and relevant ways.

The whole strength of USA founded religion the Seventh-day Adventist lies in the fact that exclusiveness is a characteristic of richest showiness high society. Young converts of skunk European countries become snobs. They have forgotten their ancestors, their traditions, their customs. European Adventism on the map is forgotten. A European mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy, and SDA the American founded religion make a fool of him in twenty minutes.

I wish more student’s would test your questions, Steve. :wink:

Friedensau certainly welcomes international students. About half our students don’t speak German as their mother tongue (but … our ACA approved language school can teach you). Sorry - couldn’t resist a little advertising.

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