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Faith and Reason x Spectrum Series: “Writing from the Borders of Adventism”

Authors - Spectrum x Faith and Reason Summer Series

The Faith and Reason Sabbath School at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church announces the lineup for a summer series in partnership with Spectrum. The series features four authors in conversation about their works. Conversations begin at 10:00 AM, Eastern, and will be broadcast live on Zoom (Password: @sligo7700).

Here is the summer series schedule:

July 13 – Sari Fordham 
July 27 – Darcie Friesen Hossack
August 03 – Matthew Vollmer 
August 24 – Trudy J. Morgan-Cole

Sari Fordham, Wait for God to Notice, 2021 (Spectrum interview)

In 1975, Uganda’s Finance Minister escaped to England saying, “To live in Uganda today is hell.” Idi Amin had declared himself president for life, the economy had crashed, and Ugandans were disappearing. One year later, the Fordham family arrived as Seventh-day Adventist missionaries.

Fordham narrates her childhood with lush, observant prose that is also at times quite funny. She describes her family’s insular faith, her mother’s Finnish heritage, the growing conflict between her parents, the dangerous politics of Uganda, and the magic of living in a house in the jungle. Driver ants stream through their bedrooms, mambas drop out of the stove, and monkeys steal their tomatoes.

Wait for God to Notice is a memoir about growing up in Uganda. It is also a memoir about mothers and daughters and about how children both know and don’t know their parents. As teens, Fordham and her sister, Sonja, considered their mother overly cautious. After their mother dies of cancer, the author begins to wonder who her mother really was. As she recalls her childhood in Uganda―the way her mother killed snakes, sweet-talked soldiers, and sold goods on the black market―Fordham understands that the legacy her mother left her daughters is one of courage and capability.

Darcie Friesen Hossack, Stillwater, 2023. 

Sixteen-year-old Lizzy is trapped, caught between her passion for science and the teachings of her Seventh-day Adventist father and Mennonite mother. But she isn’t the only one with problems: her mother, Marie, is increasingly reliant on prescription medication to recover from a car accident that might – or might not – have been deliberately caused by her husband, Daniel.

In a bid to regain his social standing and self-esteem, Daniel moves the family to an Adventist commune in BC’s Okanagan Valley, where Lizzy meets another recent arrival with secrets of his own. He helps her establish a clandestine connection to the outside world that she hopes will help her curb her tongue and retain her sanity long enough to finish high school, but her plans change when her younger brother, Zach, is threatened. Lizzy and Zach flee to Marie’s childhood home with their reluctant mother in tow. When her father arrives to take his family back to Stillwater, old resentments collide with new, forcing everyone to face a day of judgement.

Matthew Vollmer,  All of Us Together in the End. 2023. 

Matthew Vollmer’s family memoir shimmers with wonder and enchantment and begins with the death of his mother from early-onset Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Soon after, flashing lights and floating orbs appear in the woods surrounding his family’s home in rural North Carolina, where his widowed father lives. Formative memories of having been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church resurge in Vollmer’s mind, hastening self-reexamination and reckoning. He corresponds with a retired geology professor about “ghost lights,” which supposedly occur more in North Carolina than any other American state. He scrolls TikTok. He contacts an eccentric shaman who lives in Spain to have transcendental psychotherapy administered over Zoom. And then Jolene emerges, a woman endeared for decades to Vollmer’s father, holding secrets to their family’s past. Amidst the turmoil and loneliness of the pandemic, All of Us Together in the End is a poignant and often humorous investigation into belief set in a time where it seems people will believe anything. It is an elegiac affirmation of the awesome, strange, otherworldly ways our loved ones remain alive to us, even when they are out of reach.

Trudy J. Morgan-Cole, Prone to Wander, 2019 (Spectrum interview).

Jeff Evans never believed that your life flashes in front of your eyes right before you die. But now, with a tractor-trailer heading towards his car on the wrong side of the highway, he realizes there might be something to that idea after all. His memory rewinds to the summer he was fourteen, hanging out at church camp with four close friends. Twenty-five years later, those four friends are living wildly diverse lives. From a rat-infested downtown boarding house filled with drunks and addicts, to a picture-perfect Christian family that hides a dark secret: Dave, Liz, Julie and Katie are in such different places, it’s hard to imagine what could ever bring them together again—except a tragedy. They grew up in a world where God was in control and the rules were straightforward. But the conservative church that provided a firm foundation for some turned out to be a constricting cage for others. All that connects them now are the friendships they formed in their teens—friendships that still have the power to change their lives. In the wake of Jeff’s accident, each of his friends is forced to re-examine their past and how it led them to where they are today. It might be too late to save Jeff—but can Dave, Julie, Liz, and Katie still save themselves?

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