Alaska Adventist Forum’s event on February 16, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska was a rich and honest gathering for the nearly twenty who attended, listened, and participated.
Alexander Carpenter presented the topic, “What Shapes a Beautiful Adventist Community?” A member of the board for Adventist Forum and producer for its “Adventist Voices” podcast series, he opened with sharing his experiences, education, and work for the Forum. This inaugural meeting of our new Forum chapter was an introduction to Adventist Forum. Carpenter talked about Adventist Forum’s history to present, highlighting the mission statement “community through conversation.” He also gave attendees a virtual tour of the Spectrum offices and invited everyone attending the General Conference to visit Spectrum’s hospitality house during the event.
Carpenter answered the title question with insightful illustrations highlighting the theme of tensions within the community. He included a quote from One Long River of Song by Brian Doyle and two artistic examples from Janine Antoni — “Lick and Lather” and her tightrope walk along the horizon of her Bahamas childhood home. Antoni says on the video what made her better at tightrope walking: “It wasn’t that I was getting more balanced, I was becoming more comfortable with being out of balance.” Carpenter posed the question that instead of seeking balance perhaps the beauty of an Adventist community is in the tensions. Said another way, a beautiful community is not obsessed with balance but instead embodies beautiful tensions.
The evening closed with a chance for attendees to share their experiences and turning points, and, most importantly, their hope for community. As a group, Alaska Adventist Forum is looking forward to their next event. It was agreed to meet soon and often in pursuit of a beautiful community through conversation.
In the meantime, I have added the following books that were mentioned to my reading list:
Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream by Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart
One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder by Brian Doyle
Saying No to God: A Radical Approach to Reading the Bible Faithfully by Matthew Korpman
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’v Loved” by Kate Bowler
Notes & References:
 Antoni, Janine, Art, “Lick and Lather,” https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.206257.html
Melissa Bassham serves as president of the Alaska Adventist Forum.
Image: Alexander and Doris Carpenter (farthest left) with the Alaska Adventist Forum chapter. Photo provided by the author.
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