Our Relationship to Non-SDA Ministers

OBVIOUSLY most of us need to do more in the way of establishing a friendly and professional contact with non-SDA ministers. We have been counseled that "we have a work to do for the ministers of other churches. God wants them to be saved. ... He [God] wants them to be among the number who are giving to His household meat in due season."---Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 77, 78. How can we implement this suggestion? Let us consider three ways of approach . . .

-pastor of the Fredricksburg, Virginia, church in the Potomac Conference at the time this article was written

OBVIOUSLY most of us need to do more in the way of establishing a friendly and professional contact with non-SDA ministers. We have been counseled that "we have a work to do for the ministers of other churches. God wants them to be saved. ... He [God] wants them to be among the number who are giving to His household meat in due season."---Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 77, 78. How can we implement this suggestion? Let us consider three ways of approach:

First, we have a responsibility to make an acquaintance with these leaders of other churches. In the book Evangelism we are counseled: "When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to be come acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth." Page 143.

One Adventist pastor joined his local ministerial association in order to become acquainted with other ministers. In one area where he served, the pastor of the leading church in town was very prejudiced against Seventh-day Adventists and had told the members of his church to have absolutely nothing to do with Adventist people. The Adventist pastor was asked to give a talk at the local Rotary Club. The following week he was invited to join that club. The unfriendly pastor of the leading church in town was a member of the Rotary Club and through this contact the Adventist minister was able to build a real friendship with this man. As a result, this minister came to the local Adventist church on Visitors' Day to hear the pastor speak on the second coming of Christ. At the next Rotary Club meeting this pastor called the Adventist pastor aside and said he believed every word he had heard in the sermon and expressed the desire to preach this same message in his church.

The second area of consideration in forming friendships with these men of other faiths is to show genuine interest in them. One Adventist minister, while serving as an active member of the local ministerial association, had occasion to drive with a group of non-Adventist ministers to an out-of-town meeting. During this trip they had time to discuss their mutual problems. The Adventist minister mentioned to his fellow ministers his interest in a community counseling service. A few months later he received a letter of invitation to join in such a service being provided to meet the needs of the community. After this man was accepted into the counseling group, another minister asked him whether all Seventh-day Adventists were as friendly and outgoing as he was.

The third area of consideration in friendship with ministers of other faiths is that of showing friendly hospitality. While serving as president of the local ministerial association, I invited a pastor and his family to our home to try vegetarian cooking. This man is the pastor of a large congregation. While enjoying the meal, he asked many questions about Adventist beliefs. After the evening's discussion, the minister's wife turned to me and said, "I believe my husband is really convinced that your church's teaching concerning death is the correct view." Later the guests urged us to accept a dinner invitation in their home and to continue informal study.

We should never lose sight of the work God has for us to do for the clergy of other denominations.

Ministry polled North American Division local and union conference presidents to find out what their response is to the suggestion that ministers serve as active members of their local ministerial associations. Among the replies received were the following:

Through the years I have belonged to some ministerial associations and I think this can be very helpful to a pastor. However, there is a difference in the way various ministerial associations are organized. In some instances they are more like a church council and they would like to involve your local church in financial support of projects of that council, and so forth. I would caution our pastors in belonging to this kind of ministerial association.

The kind to which I belonged were loosely organized and there was no commitment of any kind to a set of principles or teachings or projects. They were merely gatherings where special speakers were brought in and issues were discussed. Oftentimes community issues are discussed, such as Sunday laws. It is very helpful for the Adventist minister to become acquainted with the various pastors in the city in this way and to lend his influence in the right direction. This kind of ministerial association has no hazards, generally speaking. I think the danger might come where commitments are required to a set of principles or projects that would compromise us. --F. W. Wernick, Lake Union Conference

All of the five ministers in Bermuda are active members of the Bermuda Ministerial Association. We have found it very helpful to have fellow ship with the Bermuda ministers and the three members of the Chaplain's Corps of the Naval Air Station and are sure that they have a different view of Seventh-day Adventists than they had prior to our joining the association several years ago. --F. R. Aldridge, Bermuda Mission

Many of our men participate in local ministerial associations, some as officers, some as members, and most of them find that there are certain functions sponsored by the ministerial association in which they cannot fully participate. There are others, however, such as Thanksgiving Day services and Memorial or Veterans' Day services in which they can whole-heartedly participate and even invite the community to our churches for community services.--Harold L. Calkins, Southern California Conference

I think it is advantageous to be a member of the local ministerial association. For almost all of the years that I served as a pastor I was a member of the ministerial association in the city where I lived. As an administrator I still am a member of the ministerial association. It helps me to keep in touch with what is going on in the city among the ministers and their churches. Also my experience was that as a result of being a member of the ministerial association our church got its turn on television and radio, along with the other churches. This is good public relations. --Ray A. Matthews, Newfoundland Conference

I have for years attended and belonged to the ministerial association in different areas. I have always felt that there was real value in this. In fact, in one place I served as secretary and also as president of the association. I felt this gave us a good contact and a close touch with the community.

One would have to be careful that he didn't tone down his preaching or change his attitude simply because he attends a meeting of this type. But, keeping this in mind, I am convinced that attending the ministerial association can be a real blessing. --A. G. Streifling, Nevada-Utah Conference

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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-pastor of the Fredricksburg, Virginia, church in the Potomac Conference at the time this article was written

May 1974

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