Welcome! Your Church Family Album

A great gift for the newly baptized

John M. Fowler, General Conference of Seventhday Adventists

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever." That was my first reaction as I flipped through the glossy pages of this beautiful work of art, family, theology, love, joy, and hope. Each page has its attraction; each picture has a message; each chapter meets a definite purpose.

Welcome! is Ken McFarland's creative way of letting every newly baptized person know in printed form what the Adventist family is all about. His crisp writing style, simple biblical exposition, lively description of how Adventism began and where it is heading, and practical hints on Adventist values and resources make the book the most helpful orientation to the exciting world of Adventism. But Welcome is also sunshine, rainbow, and beauty. Every illustration grips you with color and contrast, some old, some new, 200 of them in all each designed to hold the reader's interest to the past and the present, the struggle and the victory, the hope and the fulfillment, the humble origins and the majestic destiny of Adventism. The book, in effect, is both an introduction to the local church family and the global eschatological community. As Robert Folkenberg says in his foreword, Welcome "is a valuable resource to assist you in understanding the uniqueness of God's remnant church and your role as a member of this worldwide movement."

Ken McFarland has teamed up with Lars Justinen to produce this beautiful book to be given as a gift to new members at their baptism. So the book begins with the meaning of baptism, and links the birth experience of faith with growth. Often our church emphasizes birth and either neglects or remains indifferent to growth. Without growth and nurture, the result is a silent walk out through the back door or an indifferent warm-up of the pew. In either case the church suffers and the member atrophies. And so what good is baptism? Plenty in every way, the author argues, if we consider baptism as "ordination to ministry." That may come as a new thought, tinged with some heresy, to some who have a hang-up on the word "ordination." But the point is simple: no one who has entered the family through baptism can remain silent about the business of the family which is to share the good news of Jesus, its precious possession, with others. At baptism each person is ordained to share Jesus.

McFarland carries a serious burden. He wants everyone to understand what this family is all about. From the experience of salvation by faith to the experience of sharing a common fellowship, from under standing Adventist origins to anticipating the Second Advent, from learning the 27 fundamental beliefs to being familiar with Adventist language and lifestyle, and from knowing church organization to supporting its worldwide mission, the book is a primer for the newly baptized. I wish I'd had this book when I was baptized.

The book helps in many small ways. But the main thrust is its spirit a spirit of genuine welcome into God's family. "The foundation of our fellowship," says the author, "is love." And God's family, the church, has the privilege of radiating that love, making it a safe and caring place where everyone, particularly the newly baptized, will "feel accepted, valued, respected and loved."

Use Welcome! to welcome someone into your church family. The gift and the giver will never be forgotten.

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John M. Fowler, General Conference of Seventhday Adventists

June 1997

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