[Roy Branson,“In Memoriam” (1937-2015)]
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is living an epochal cultural change incarnated with the demographical shift in these last fifty years. In 1962 the Church in the “Global South” had a membership of 818,716 (60 percent of world membership of 1,362,775). In 2012 that “Global South” membership shot up to 16,380,066, representing 92 percent of world membership.
Born and raised a Peruvian Adventist, I have wonderful memories of how a Latin-American church made me happy as a child. The son of a hardworking Adventist pastor, Rodrigo Gutierrez, and of a completely kind and dedicated pastor's wife, Orfilia Salazar, I will never be able to fully thank that church for having nurtured me all those precious years, through its various communities, including schools, Pathfinder clubs, choirs, camp meetings, evangelism campaigns, youth camps, inclusive worships and Bible studies.
Being vegetarian is one distinctive characteristic of Adventism, even though the way of interpreting it may deeply vary – from a country like Norway to a country like Argentina. This diversity ranges from ascetic forms of veganism, realistic strategies of occasional meat-eating to various idealistic and romantic modalities of circumstantial or regional vegetarianism. But, compared to this worldwide Adventist individual diversity, institutional Adventism appears instead as homogeneously and massively vegetarian. Except for Czech Adventism.
With the idiosyncratic and classical protestant European theme of “Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda”, the 2015 ETTC (European Theology Teachers Convention) took place March 25-29 at Newbold College, England. What does the word “reform” mean today? This is easier to proclaim than to understand and implement, which is often the reason self-proclaimed “reforming” movements have paradoxically behaved as reactionary and nostalgic. European Adventism should remember and learn this from its own past history.
Every discourse on Origins is necessarily indirect and a posteriori. And in order to appear believable it paradoxically needs to be both partial and inclusive. Consequently we need to integrate the various existing perspectives on Origins if we want to have a meaningful reflection on this topic. Creation has both a Biblical and scientific-naturalistic approach. But these are only two expressions of a more universal quest.
Suffering is the subjective experience of evil. Not merely a threatening external presence in nature, it is a disturbing challenge that touches us in our primordial foundations and certainties. It cruelly becomes an eroding event from within. Its universality doesn't respect age, gender, religion or ethnicity. This compels us to try to understand and make some sense of it, knowing in advance that whatever the resulting interpretation, it will always remain a precarious, fragmented and insufficient belief in the unexpected and weary path of life.
The Sabbath and the Second Advent of Christ are God's gifts to all humanity, not only to the SDA Church. This is the reason why SDA mission shouldn't be that of defending an exclusively ecclesiocentric interpretation of both, as this presidential address does. We should never think in terms of “possessing” these truths or maniacally trying to keep them “pure”. Otherwise, as in Matthew's eschatological parable of the talents, the SDA Church would assume the role of the hoarding and obsessive-compulsive servant rather than the open-minded faithfulness of the praised servants.