BY LORI PETTIBONE FUTCHER
ET’S DO A VIRTUAL EXERCISE--close your eyes.
OK, maybe that won’t work, since you’re reading this. Open them, but imagine
that you are going for a drive. You drive along and notice a group of people
gathered. As you get closer, it’s possible to recognize them.
There’s Cliff Goldstein, the editor of the Adult Sabbath
School Bible Study Guide, in the front. He’s pacing back and forth running
his hands through his hair. No doubt he’s thinking about another insightful
Sabbath school lesson.
There in the back is George Reid, director of the Biblical
Research Institute. He has a hand on the shoulder of a young man, and he seems
to be explaining something. As you watch, he picks up a Bible and points to
a text. The young man’s eyes brighten. You think, He must have just answered
that young man’s question.
Out of the corner of your eye you spot someone else. With
that mustache, you’d recognize him anywhere. That’s got to be José Rojas, of
course. He is playing his guitar with a group of teenagers gathered around him.
Every once in a while he stops playing to add a story to the conversation.
Continuing to recognize faces in this crowd, you decide
this must be a gathering of great Adventist minds. Knowing this is your opportunity
to get answers to the questions that have been running through your mind, you
As you step out of the car, a beautiful young woman greets
you. “Hi there!” she says cheerfully. “Do you have a question?”
You realize that no matter what question you ask, this woman
will do her best to put you in contact with someone who has the answer. Think
carefully. What are you going to ask?
Every day members log onto the Adventist Church’s Web site
at www.adventist.org. They send their questions to the site’s general e-mail
address (firstname.lastname@example.org). The beautiful young woman (that’s really me) passes
those questions on to someone who can answer them or points these people to
a resource where they can find the answers.
All kinds of questions pass through my mailbox (email@example.com). Some are questions or concerns
addressed to the church. Others are from nonmembers who are interested in learning
more about our church. In this article I’ll answer 10 of the most commonly asked
1. Is there a way to contact individual
General Conference employees?
Most General Conference employees have at least one e-mail
account. While you will not find a comprehensive list of all these e-mail addresses
anywhere (this helps avoid SPAM),2 you still may be able to find the e-mail
address you need.
If you know the department in which this employee works,
go to the links page (www.adventist.org/links/) and select Adventist Church
World Services. This area lists many of the General Conference departments with
links to their Web pages and/or e-mail links so you can contact that department.
Some departments have chosen to list specific personnel. Even if they haven’t,
sending an e-mail message to the department is probably the fastest way to get
If you don’t have access to the Internet, or if you can’t
find the person’s department online address, call the General Conference switchboard
2. I have been looking all over for a specific resource.
Can you tell me where I might be able to find it?
If you are looking for a resource, PlusLine should be your
first stop. Tell a PlusLine consultant what you are looking for, and they will
do their best to connect you with the resource you need. They’ll also help you
find program ideas, books, and materials. Another service they offer is sharing
information about Adventist events throughout North America. They also offer
registration services to Adventist event providers. PlusLine will supply a complete
list of Adventist Resource toll-free numbers on request.
There are three ways to get the information you need from
- Members in the North American Division can call the toll-free
hot line at 1-800-732-7587.
- Search or browse their Web site, www.plusline.org.
- Or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Our church would like to use the
official logo. What do we need to do?
That’s great! The more churches and other Adventist institutions
that use the logo, the more the public will associate it with the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, thus increasing our visibility in local communities.
Now to answer your question, we do ask that all churches
and other official Adventist organizations order a logo packet from AdventSource
(l-800-328-0525 or 402-486-2519). The kit costs $39.95 and includes everything
you’ll need to use the logo, including a CD-ROM with the logo art, a video about
the logo, printed reproduction art and color swatches, and most important, an
identity standards manual.
4. I’m looking for an Adventist friend with whom
I lost contact. Can you point me in the right direction?
It’s been said that our world is a small one—particularly
when you are an Adventist. Get together with any group of Adventists and you’re
likely to find someone who knows someone that you know. Perhaps this is why
there are so many e-mails asking if I know the whereabouts of someone’s long-lost
friend. Here are a few tips that may help you find that Adventist friend you
would like to contact:
a. Start with an online people search. This will help find
your Adventist as well as your non-Adventist friends.
b. Do you know which academy or college they attended? If
so, try checking with that institution’s alumni association. Some schools have
books that list alumni with their current addresses. Some even have alumni directories
on their Web sites.
c. Where did your friend previously work and/or go to church?
Did they work for an Adventist institution? If so, try calling that institution
to see if anyone there knows this person’s whereabouts. The same would be true
if you know in which church your friend previously held membership. Perhaps
there is a coworker or church member who has kept in touch, or maybe the church
or institution has records indicating where your friend transferred.
d. Do you have an idea of the area where they might be living?
If so, contact the local conference. Find the phone number for any conference
by searching the online yearbook at http://yearbook.gc.adventist.org.
5. Is it OK to celebrate Christmas?
I’d like to introduce you to George Reid, the director of
the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference. Here is how he responded
to someone who had this same question:
“Despite a crusade against Christmas in our church by a
handful of people, we do not see the question as of importance and never have
taken an official position on it. Here is why. It is true that Christmas as
now celebrated carries certain trappings drawn from a pagan background, largely
from the Roman culture. The day, December 25, is drawn from the Roman festival
of Saturnalia, a commemoration of the winter equinox. Contrary to the contention
of a few uninformed persons, Jeremiah 10 does not declare that the Christmas
tree came from paganism. That passage refers to making of idols, not Christmas
trees. Apparently the first person to place lights on an evergreen tree in honor
of Christmas was Martin Luther.
“For us Christmas as now celebrated is a secular holiday,
even if cued to a religious event. It has become highly commercialized, as we
all know. It is a time for family gatherings, when almost everyone is off work,
and a time for fellowship and giving of gifts to friends and relatives. Little
of this has any pagan connection, and if it did, the pagan element is so long
past it would have no significance to today’s people. Many things we have come
with pagan connections. The world’s first glass windows were placed in ancient
pagan temples, but we still use glass windows with no sense of reverence to
anything pagan. Roman bridges, aqueducts, highways, walls, etc., were generally
dedicated to and often named after Roman gods. The water system in cities, famous
from Roman times, also had pagan connections, but we still have water systems
in our houses with no sense of honor to pagan gods.
“The only sacred time in the Scriptures is the seventh day
of the week. Early Christians did not have any celebration to mark anniversaries
for Christ’s birth or even His death and resurrection. The latter was of course
tied to the Jewish Passover, but nowhere in the early church is there any reference
to Easter, despite one mistranslation in the King James Version of the Bible.
Both Christmas and Easter celebrations were introduced among Christians more
than a century after the events they commemorate, and do not represent biblical
festivals. Only the Sabbath is a biblical festival for Christians.
“Because we live in a culture saturated by the commercial
interests with the importance of Christmas, we can hardly ignore it, while treating
it as a secular holiday. Seventh-day Adventists are guided in our attitude by
the counsel of Ellen G. White, found on pages 477-483 of her book The Adventist
Home. I would recommend you read these pages carefully for a balanced understanding
of how we deal with Christmas. If some want to mark the birth of Christ, we
have no special burden, but all of us recognize that the evidence suggests that
Christ was born no later than October, certainly not in December. The eastern
branch of Christianity, incidentally, including the Greek, Russian, and various
branches of the Orthodox Church, celebrates Christmas in January. Their celebration
is no more a biblical event than that of December 25.”
6. I’d like to find an Adventist church
in my town. Do you know where one is?
Thanks to Steven Timm, a layperson who runs a Web site called
SDANet, there is a way for you to find churches in North America, Brazil, and
several European countries. Go to www.sdanet.org and click on the link to the
SDANet Graphical Church locator.
Another source for finding churches, and particularly their
Web pages, is http://mcdonald.southern.edu. Here a local congregation has collected
a list of more than 1,500 Adventist Church Web sites. In addition, you will
find directories for churches in various parts of the world.
7. Can you summarize what Seventh-day Adventists believe?
Our church has 27 fundamental beliefs. Here is a quick list:
1. The Holy Scriptures. 2. The Trinity. 3. The Father. 4. The Son.
5. The Holy Spirit. 6. Creation. 7. The Nature
of Man. 8. The Great Contro-versy. 9. The Life, Death, and Resur-rection of
Christ. 10. The Experience of Salvation. 11. The Church. 12. The Remnant and
Its Mission. 13. Unity in the Body of Christ. 14. Baptism. 15. The Lord’s Supper.
16. Spiritual Gifts and Ministries. 17. The Gift of Prophecy. 18. The Law of
God. 19. The Sabbath. 20. Stewardship. 21. Christian Behavior. 22. Marriage
and the Family. 23. Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary. 24. The Second
Coming of Christ. 25. Death and Resurrection. 26. The Millennium and the End
of Sin. 27. The New Earth.
If you would like more information about any of these beliefs,
check this Web site: www.adventist.org/beliefs/. Not only does this site list
each of our 27 fundamental beliefs, with descriptions and texts for each doctrine;
there is also a link to request Bible studies or even take Bible studies online.
8. Help! I’m lost on the Web. Do you happen to know
where I can find an Internet site I’ve been looking for?
Personally, I find the Infoseek search engine (www.infoseek.com)
the most useful. With Infoseek, if an initial search finds an overwhelming number
of matches, I can do a search within the original search in order to zero in
on what I’m looking for.
Another favorite search engine is www.yahoo.com. This is
a large directory edited by a team of people who try to filter out junk results.
When searching for Adventist information, it is helpful
to use “Adventist” as one of the search words. This being said, see the sidebar
on page 38 listing some of the most commonly asked-about Adventist sites.
9. I heard an interesting rumor about the church—is it true?
As the old adage says, if it seems too good (or too bad)
to be true, it probably is. Before spreading any type of news, check the story
with a reliable source for accuracy. When it comes to news about the church,
consider the Adventist Review or the Adventist News Network (ANN) as
You can find ANN Bulletins on the church’s official Web
page (www.adventist.org)—updated regularly. If after reading the news posted
to this site you have not found any information about the story you heard, double-check
by contacting ANN. Call them at 301-680-6300, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
10. Can you tell me if the church has anything to say
about competition, homosexuality, racism, etc.?
Ray Dabrowski, director of the General Conference Communication
“In the past two decades of our history, the Seventh-day
Adventist Church has become very active in developing and publicizing the church’s
position statements on specific topics or issues. Often such statements are
a reaction to a prominent public agenda issue. It goes without saying that the
church as a moral force in society is expected to clarify or express its stance,
or even develop a particular concern. Adventists, as members of the society
at large, often mirror the challenges and needs of those around them. Some of
the issues are not new, but they are more pressing today, perhaps. Documents
available at www.Adventist.org/beliefs/statements.html represent a whole spectrum
of these issues and concerns.
“From the early years Seventh-day Adventists have been recognized
as a group of conscientious Christians who are vocal about and prominent in
taking a stand in regard to a number of causes and issues. The list of these
is quite impressive—civil rights and anti-slavery stance, religious liberty,
health and temperance reform, leadership in prevention of alcoholism and drug
dependency, anti-tobacco lobby, education, welfare, aid and development, and
“Though the past heritage sees Adventists as reform-minded,
it also shows the church leadership as sometimes reluctant to take public position.
Exceptions include such issues as religious freedom and temperance. It was typical
for Adventists to emphasize that changes in society are best effected through
the changing of personal lives of the individuals. Public pronouncements or
action were not the preferred approaches in influencing the social agenda. So,
though Adventists successfully used the church pulpit and the classroom to speak
against social ills or promote Christian values, they have not, until recently,
formalized their official position through public statements. It was a noncreedal
approach at the outset, with the ‘fundamental beliefs’ being formulated into
a ‘doctrinal statement’ only in the 1930s.
“The Web site (www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements.html)
presents statements and guidelines discussed, approved, and voted by the church
leadership since 1980. These were written with a different public in mind, some
reflecting a particular internal interest of the church. There you will find
documents issued by the General Conference in session, by the General Conference
Executive Committee, by the Administrative Committee of the General Conference,
or by the office of the General Conference president.
“As the church continues to grow and endeavors to influence
its publics, its role in society will require that our views and what we hold
true become known. Such will continue to be the demands of society, and such
will be the need to define Adventism’s relevance, or present truth, to those
who are asking questions and seeking answers to their dilemmas and problems.
Mind you, the documents are not an end in themselves. They are a reflection
of a movement sensitive to its calling, and the people who ‘know how to answer
everyone’ (Col. 4:6, NIV).”
So you’ve read this entire article and still have more questions?
Spend some time browsing the church’s official Web page, www.adventist.org.
If you haven’t found what you’re looking for there, feel free to send an e-mail
to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll our do our best to help you find the answers
1 Questions were selected from a sample of three months’
worth of e-mails.
2 SPAM is the e-mail equivalent of junk mail. SPAMmers often
get addresses from e-mail lists that are posted on the Internet. Junk e-mail
can be a real problem, sometimes filling up the mailbox so that important messages
are unable to get through.
At the time this article was written Lori Pettibone Futcher
worked in the General Conference Communication Department. She is now publications
coordinator at Life Care Centers of America in Cleveland, Tennessee.