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Argentina’s Adventist Pioneers Remembered
Wilson, division leaders dedicate memorial, museum (Posted May 23, 2012)
BY MARK A. KELLNER
, news editor, reporting from Crespo Campo, Entre Rios, Argentina
OLD STYLE ARRIVAL: Ted N. C. Wilson, his wife, Nancy, and South American Division president Erton Koehler are among travelers who arrived at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Crespo Campo, Entre Rios, Argentina, on Sabbath, May 19, 2012, for the rededication of a museum honoring pioneer missionaries and pastors in the division. [Photos: Mark A. Kellner/AR]
he names and deeds of the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to South America are engraved on heaven’s tablets. Now, a stone monument and a new museum in central Argentina also bear witness to their sacrifice.
Leaders of the South American Division and the Astral (Argentina) Union were joined by General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson on the afternoon of Sabbath, May 19, 2012, to dedicate both sites.
The stone monument consists of slabs of concrete arranged in the shape of a map of the South American continent, surrounding a large stone representing the spot in Crespo Campo where the first evangelism took place. Reinhold Hetze was the first convert of missionary Jorge H. Riffel, who met with Hetze and his neighbors to study the Bible and share the Advent hope. Heteze’s home no longer stands on the spot, but one of his great grandsons, architect Norman Fontana, was involved in the monument’s creation.
The monument sits in a field acquired by the Adventist Church in Argentina in 1983, with the support of the GC’s then-president, Neal C. Wilson, Ted Wilson’s father.
TINY CHURCH: This small building in Crespo Campo, Entre Rios, Argentina, was filled to overflowing for the May 19 dedication. In his comments Wilson said the history reflected at the stie should inspire today’s Adventists to reach the world’s largest cities, including Buenos Aires.
“The Seventh-day Adventist message grew from this place,” Wilson said. “From this tranquil, quiet place, the three angels’ messages were being proclaimed.”
Wilson and his party then went to the site of the first Adventist church in South America, now a small museum featuring historical artifacts and memorabilia, including photos of pioneer missionaries.
“We thank God for the beginnings of the work in South America,” Wilson said. “It is good to remember where we began . . . it will help us truly to know how God will help us in the future.”
Shortly before arriving at the site, Wilson, his wife Nancy, and division president Erton Köhler and his wife, Adriene, left their car to take seats in the same horse-drawn “Russian cart” used by Wilson’s late parents to visit the same site nearly 30 years earlier.
But while reflecting on the past, Wilson’s eye was toward the future. “May this humble museum, this tiny, functioning church of many years, be a reminder to us to move into the cities,” he said.