At its annual meeting in February the Charles E. Weniger Society honored the service to the Seventh-day Adventist denomination by Bert B. Beach, Bert B. Haloviak, and William G. Johnsson.
All three men had long careers at the General Conference. Beach worked as an international religious statesman and broke new ground by establishing many official and significant connections with major religious organizations and denominations around the world. Haloviak served as archivist, and discovered important new information about the seminal 1888 and 1919 church conferences that were critical to SDA theological development, as well as opening the archives to more outside research. Johnsson edited the church’s flagship journal the Adventist Review. Seven outstanding students from the thirteen Seventh-day Adventist universities and colleges in North America were also named as fellows of the society and given scholarships.
Johnsson gave the “Clinton Emmerson Annual Address” at the ceremony that took place in the Loma Linda University Church.” In his speech “Recapturing the Dream: Adventists and the Future” he asked if Adventists can still dream or “have we become too jaded?”
“Noting that the church sprang from a dream and grew and thrived on dreams, he said. “We are the over-achievers of the religious world. We never have enough money to continue but we do.”
John Harvey Kellogg, Fernando Stahl, Harry Miller, Ellen G. White, W.W. Prescott, John Burden, Anna Knight, these were women and men of courage, dreamers all, he said, adding some current day names to the list: Barry Black, Leonard Bailey, Ben Carson.
“There’s not much to do with a church when its dreams are dead,” he said decrying the tendency to play it safe. He lamented the lack of dreams at the General Conference in spite of the hard work done there by people who spend much of their time traveling and serving on committees.
As he talked about the defining dream of Adventism, he said “we cannot abandon the dream of Jesus coming again.” William Miller was fixated on when Jesus was coming rather than on who is coming. Johnsson said his dream centers around sharing who is coming. “Because God gave His best in Jesus,” we are called to strive for lives of excellence and compassion.”
Speaking boldly, he asserted that, “Our schools should be dream factories.” And he pleaded the cause of Adventist scientists, saying they should be able to welcome knowledge from nature and scientific studies with the active support of church leaders, instead of concerns of undue and reflexive reprisals. “I am confident that someday an Adventist will win a Nobel prize.”
Noting the numbers of trained theologians in the church, he asked what the church will do with this resource. “It is time to give Adventist scholars fresh air to do the creative work they are trained to do, and not just for the church, but for society.”
“The Lord has given Adventists a magnificent dream. We are called to a ministry of hope and healing,” he concluded.
Started in 1974 by the late Congressman Jerry Pettis, Clinton Emmerson, and John Osborn, the Weniger Society has given out over 150 awards to Adventist luminaries. Charles Elliott Weniger was the dean of the SDA Theological Seminary in the 1950’s and a beloved teacher of research and rhetoric.
Released by the Charles E. Weniger Society
March 2, 2015
For further information, contact Bonnie Dwyer, 916-774-1080
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6672