The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
It’s About Relationships
My deep gratitude to Peggy Dudley for sharing her profound and gentle article, “I Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” (July 10, 2008). Her careful wisdom and do-able suggestions offer our members viable action steps to walk with youth and young adults, even while some may be stepping away from church life.
I was impressed by the powerful emphasis on relationships throughout the article, which is a crucial ingredient to anyone’s participation in a faith community. I especially appreciate her admonition go beyond empathizing with our young people, to take action, making our church environment, programming, and persona more relevant and welcoming to new generations.
I saw an ad campaign recently that stated starkly “Don’t go to Church.” It went on to admonish, “be the Church.” My prayer is that many of us will take Dudley’s counsel to heart and become the warm, accepting, welcoming church that will embrace our young people. I want to be the church that holds lovingly onto new generations.
A. Allan Martin
Associate professor of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
The article by Margaret Dudly was from the perspective of a parent or church leader aimed at youth. I am a 47 year-old husband and father, and I don’t want to go church anymore.
Am I alone? I’ve been an Adventist all my life, and I still consider myself one. I’m reading the Bible more and going to church less.
At church I see more attention focused on whether you wear a tie or not, not being too loud at potluck, or “When do you think the time of trouble might start?”
Jesus said, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). We need to love each other more and scare each other less. Oops! Well, maybe that song I sang years ago applies now. “Let there be peace (love) on earth (in church) and let it begin with me.”
I think I just answered my own question.
The Adventist Connection
I appreciated Bill Knott’s editorial, “Improving the Odds” (July 10, 2008). It’s clear that children who attend Adventist schools are more likely to stay committed to Jesus and His church family. Ellen White wrote: “In childhood and youth the character is most impressible. . . . More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years decide whether a man [or woman] will be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life. Youth is the sowing time. It determines the character of the harvest, for this life and for the life to come” (The Desire of Ages, p. 101).
With the thousands of our children who do not attend our schools, it seems we need to make Adventist education more financially feasible for parents. The cost of sending several students is beyond the reach of many church families, unless they are professional or they are church employed and receive a subsidy. Our schools are the best means we have for the salvation of our children: why not use monies appropriated to evangelism and a larger percentage of tithe money to pay our teachers-at least grades Kindergarten through 12? This might even encourage more people to pay tithe. The salvation of our children should be one of our highest priorities.
I hope those who lead our educational system will find ways to make Adventist education more affordable to all our church families.
I think the emphasis in Bill Knott’s editorial is in the wrong place. We cannot be loyal to a church; our loyalty has to be to God and God alone. That’s what we need to teach our young people. Only as we become loyal to Him shall we remain faithful to our church.
Second, parents must not expect teachers to do at school for their children what they ought to do for them at home. Yes, our educational system might be in crisis (at least that’s my experience here in South Africa); however, we parents must try our best to “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (Prov. 22:6, NRSV).
Third, church leadership at all levels, but particularly at the General Conference level, should not compromise. In my experience as a teacher of more than 10 years at a Seventh-day Adventist School, young people expect their teachers to discipline them; to walk the walk and talk the talk without compromise.
Bellville, South Africa
Thank you for the article, “Not a Spectator Sport” (June 26, 2008). As a union conference Pathfinder director, I am proud of the Pathfinders who represented our union and their conferences and diligently studied their Bibles in preparation for this important event.
But in all fairness it is important to note that there are two other Bible Bowl/Achievement type events that take place within our division: The Black Adventist Youth Directors Association (BAYDA) Bible Bowl, which includes Adventurers to Young Adults and even alumni of the Bible Bowl; and the Rocky Mountain Conference Bible Bowl. The BAYDA Bible Bowl is actually the largest and oldest of the Bible Bowl type programs.
The North American Division Pathfinder Committee voted several years ago not to “adopt” one Bible Bowl format, but to “endorse” the three existing “Bible Bowls.” Each event is an invitational and any Pathfinder Club is welcome to participate, no matter the conference they belong too. Many conferences plan their own Bible Bowls and do not, for various reasons, participate in these “national” events.
Let’s affirm all Pathfinders who diligently study their Bibles, no matter what format they participate in, and pray that they will share their biblical knowledge as they share Jesus with others.
Atlantic Union Conference
Having just read Roy Adams’ editorial, “She Hung Up On Me”(June 26, 2008), I am motivated to respond to what is an inaccurate and damaging view of how leaders are to be treated.
Adams cited Paul’s apologetic response to a “realization” that he had been rude to the High Priest. I would call it a “Clayton’s apology,” that is, an apology given when you are not giving an apology. Paul could be described as being facetious.
Paul had just been physically abused by the High Priest. Just as Paul had subsequently “respected” the High Priest, Adams points out that we should respect our leaders. By applying Adams’ interpretation of Paul’s statement, the natural conclusion is that any of our leaders who physically, sexually, or emotionally abuse people should also be respected.
Have we learned nothing from the furor surrounding leaders in other churches found guilty of abusing the trust placed in them? Are we going to repeat the same mistakes through ignorance? Are we going to let the guilty use Review editorials as their defense?
The instruction Paul gave in 1 Timothy 5:17-20 is much more pertinent, and is not subject to the ambiguous interpretation given the Acts 23 event. Elders are to be honored and respected; and if accused, are to be accused by two or three witnesses; and if found to be in sin, rebuked publicly.
Auckland, New Zealand
A Hero’s Tale
Thank you for the wonderful story on John Weidner. It was my privilege to work with Weidner and his wife, Naomi, when I first came to California in 1980 as associate pastor of the Pasadena Church. John was the head elder. He was truly a remarkable individual--totally unassuming. Even though he was by far the wealthiest individual in the church, he drove an ancient, dilapidated Volkswagen. He was frugal indeed!
I’ve always felt that Weidner’s work in rescuing Jews and Allied airmen during World War II would have made a far more interesting story than Schindler’s List. John was responsible for saving more than Oscar Schindler. Weidner’s story has much drama that borders on the unbelievable; but it’s all totally true.
John L. Bechtel
John Weidner was a familiar name in our home when I was a boy. My father was a professor of English at Atlantic Union College (AUC), when one day about 1929 a letter came addressed only “Atlantic Union College.” It was from John Weidner. Someone turned the letter over to my dad, who opened it and found some foreign postage stamps. He gave the stamps to my older brother Walter, who was about eight, and sent some stamps back to Weidner in return. From that moment my brother became an avid stamp collector and exchanged letters and stamps with Weidner.
Walter’s collection grew until he had well over 30,000 stamps, 9,000 from France alone. His stamps meant more to him than to most collectors as he was handicapped and spent much time at home studying the stamps, with all their history and geography. Walter eventually became a history teacher at Pacific Union College and authored several books on French history. And it all started with Weidner’s letter to AUC in the twenties.
I knew nothing further about Weidner until I read Herb Ford’s book, Flee the Captor, years later.
One day when my wife and I were in Pasadena, California, we dropped in to get acquainted at Weidner Natural Foods. When Weidner learned our name he treated us like celebrities. Of course he remembered my brother, his pen pal from the ‘20s, and we had a wonderful visit. He invited us to eat lunch in his restaurant, to which we agreed provided we could pay the bill. We insisted, but he was unmovable and treated us to an excellent, healthful lunch.
Weidner was a war hero of incredible courage. He was also a great Christian, an honor to his church. He was also, as we discovered, a warm, friendly, person and a generous host. When he was but a teenager he was the spark that launched my brother’s long career in Adventist education. In more ways than he could have foreseen, his works follow him.
Richard H. Utt
Loma Linda, California
As a youth I read the Weidner story in Herb Ford’s book and was thrilled by his example of doing right because it was right.
When Southern Adventist University came out with the movie, Secret of the Cave, I thought immediately that the book about Weidner, Flee the Captor, would make a wonderful next project. I hope his story will inspire Christians of all faiths to deal with injustice courageously, whether or not one gets public recognition.
Thanks to Wilona Karimabadi for the well-told cover story, “Running From Death.” I’m glad there was mention of the John Henry Weidner Center for the Cultivation of the Altruistic Spirit at Atlantic Union College, but I regret that the Weidner Foundation’s website, www.weidnerfoundation.org, was not shared. Readers who are interested in further information will want to know of its existence.
Lawrence T. Geraty
In his column, “Control Freak”(June 26, 2008), Clifford Goldstein outlines a global thinking approach to life. It’s refreshing to be blessed by an author who takes thinking beyond the realm of natural boundaries.
Most people spend their lives relaxing in front of a television. Goldstein takes us above the blue skies to where God dwells and brings down insights as did Pascal—obviously one of Goldstein’s favorite authors, as well as mine—and transcends an atmosphere of influence not commonly found in other publications.