Shining a light on Ellen White
Two university students are helping younger generations discover a fresh perspective on the life and impact of Ellen White.
Megan Skene and Zoe Cochrane, both third-generation Adventists, have a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for Ellen White, but that was not always the case. Growing up, they perceived Ellen White as a distant historical figure placed on a pedestal by many Adventists. As a result, they found it challenging to connect with her.
Their attitudes changed after joining the Adventist Heritage Centre team last year and getting to know Ellen White as a woman who went above and beyond to help her local community during her years living in Cooranbong, Australia.
“I learned about what she did for the community, and for me, actions speak louder than words,” said Skene, a psychology student at the University of Newcastle. “She was constantly going out and helping people. She was known as the ‘buggy woman’ in Cooranbong because she would go around on her one-horse buggy and constantly give food and clothing to people.”
Skene continued, “Her writings are really important, but I feel we should also focus on how she helped people in the community.”
Through an engaging educational program, Skene and Cochrane have already welcomed five school groups this year. Students receive guided tours that provide opportunities to discuss spiri-tual themes. “In one room, there’s a painting of Jesus on a wall, and a student recently pointed up at the painting and asked, ‘Who is that?’ ” Skene recalled. “So, it opens up conversations [beyond history], which is awesome.”
Skene believes they are helping to reshape public perception of Ellen White. “Even I’m viewing her in a different and better light,” she said. “I love how the tours are making Ellen White and Adventist history more fun and engaging for people. People are finding new ways to connect with Ellen and Adventist history and learning more about their identity.” [Tracey Bridcutt]
Chosen for Mission theme for 160th-anniversary celebration
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Aptly themed “Chosen for Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders highlighted the 160th anniversary of the official organization of the church during the General Conference (GC) Executive Committee spring meeting on April 11. Through brief presentations, GC secretary Erton Köhler and Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research director David Trim called leaders and members to keep moving forward as they celebrate the church’s beginnings and its legacy. The Adventist Church organization turned 160 on May 21, 2023.
Trim described how, on Wednesday, May 20, 1863, 20 leaders of what he called “the embryonic Seventh-day Adventist movement” gathered in Battle Creek, Michigan. The first action of the 20 delegates was to elect a temporary chairman, Jotham M. Aldrich, and secretary, Uriah Smith.
“Aldrich was thirty-five years old and had only converted in 1860,” Trim said. “He had not been a Millerite. Smith was just thirty-one and, remarkably, was not a delegate.”
This is worth pointing out, Trim said, because those two facts reveal important insights into the founding of the Adventist Church.
“Many of [the delegates] were young, and they were not snobbish nor exclusive,” he said. “Our founders looked for spiritual gifts, and when they saw talent, they would use it to spread the third angel’s message.”
The next day, Thursday, May 21, 1863, “was the big day,” Trim said. The first step was the selection of eight delegates to draft a constitution, which was approved unanimously, and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was thus formally founded.
The original structure included conferences as constituencies, annual GC sessions, and three permanent officers—a president, a secretary, and a treasurer. There was also an executive committee of three, of which the president was one.
Trim noted, “The purpose of the General Conference, in sum, was to promote unity, identity, and mission.”
Köhler followed Trim to remind Adventist leaders that the Adventist Church will soon hit another major milestone: 150 years of Adventist Mission—the sending of the first church missionary overseas—that the church is planning to highlight in 2024.
Köhler stated that it has been a long road from the original 3,500 church members and six conferences in 1863 to the current 22.2 million baptized members in 212 countries, 97,811 churches, and 753 conferences and missions.
“We must celebrate our legacy [as we stay] focused on unity, identity, and mission,” Köhler said. “But the past is a place of reference, not for residence.” [Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]
Literature Evangelists’ Congress and Spirit of Prophecy Summit
The Publishing Ministries Department of the Central Philippine Union Conference (CPUC) of Seventh-day Adventists conducted a conference-wide Literature Evangelists’ (LE) Congress and Spirit of Prophecy (SOP) Summit, held at Winter’s Farm Resort in Masbate, Philippines. With the theme of Identity, Purpose, and Mission, these consecutive events brought together delegates, pastors, and guest speakers to explore the profound significance of Adventist beliefs and the role of the Spirit of Prophecy.
The opening night featured a powerful message from God through Rey Cabañero, Publishing Ministries director for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, setting the tone for the event.
Following the LE Congress, the Spirit of Prophecy Summit saw nearly 200 pastors, officers, and directors gathered from across the Central Philippines. The summit emphasized Ellen G. White as an inspired prophet and messenger
of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her writings were recognized as a vital source of support for the church’s biblical truths, beliefs, and doctrines, including topics such as righteousness by faith, justification, sanctification, and perfection.
During the opening night, Calev Maquirang, CPUC executive secretary, stressed, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is grateful for the gift of prophecy through Ellen G. White. This gift revealed in her life and ministry is viewed as a distinctive mark of the church before the return of Jesus. It is given to help believers have anticipation for His second coming and encourage believers to utilize their spiritual gifts to prepare the world for His inevitable return.”
Pastor Maquirang added, “Ellen G. White emphasized the importance of spreading Adventist literature widely, comparing it to the scattering of autumn leaves, and she called for distribution in cities and villages and reaching as many people as possible. We encourage everyone to engage in this very important work before the probation of salvation closes so that many will be prepared for the coming of Jesus.” [Nadeth Quinto, Central Philippine Union Conference]