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Weniger Society to Honor Four on February 16


The annual Charles Elliott Weniger Society for Excellence Awards Ceremony will take place this Sabbath, February 16, at 4 p.m., at the Loma Linda University Church. Rebekah Wang Cheng, T. Grace Emori-Elder, Harvey Elder, and Charles Scriven will be feted.

Over the past 45 years, the Society has honored 174 individuals, a virtual Who’s Who in Adventism. The Society is named for Charles Elliott Weniger, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in the 1950s. His students remember him for his modeling of excellence and his kind­ness, the two proving to be an inspiring combination. After he passed away in 1964, his former students created the Weniger Society in his honor to carry forward the legacy of excellence that he instilled in them.

Rebekah Wang Cheng

As a physician, writer, television host, and medical school professor, Rebekah Wang Cheng has charmed patients, readers, and students alike while racking up a long list of awards and honors. After graduating from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1975, she completed an internship in psychiatry and then a residency in internal medicine, followed by a fellowship in medical education. In addition to positions at numerous hospitals, she has served on the faculty of three medical schools — Loma Linda University, University of Wisconsin, and Wright State University.

Her mass communication roles began in 1987 when she hosted a radio show “Talk to the Doctor” with Kathleen Dunn for WTMJ. For seven years, she was a co-host of the television talk-show Lifestyle Magazine. She has also co-hosted ADRA’s World, a cable program reporting on humanitarian work around the world and also Healing Hope, a TV program for the Hope Channel.

T. Grace Emori-Elder

Born to Japanese immigrant parents in Stockton, California, Grace Emori, at the age of four, was relocated by the U.S. Government to an internment camp in Alaska along with her parents Susumu and Sumi Emori. In 1945, the family moved back to California where eventually Grace earned her undergraduate degree in nursing and master’s in medical-surgery nursing from LLU.  She taught nursing at Atlantic Union College for three years. Returning to Loma Linda, she instituted a new program in hospital infection control with Dr. Harvey Elder. Their pioneering approach to prevention of hospital-associated infections captured the attention of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Grace was invited to join the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service (PHS) where she spent the next 26 years. She served as the Assistant Project Chief of the landmark study on the efficacy of infection control programs that led to mandates for hospitals to improve quality of patient care by accrediting organizations and government agencies. She was a founding member of the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control.

Grace also was an active participant in her local church and community. She was the first woman ordained as a local elder at the Stone Mountain Church in Georgia and later at the Valley View Church in Medford, OR, she was the head elder for many years. In 2016, she returned to Loma Linda again, this time to marry Harvey Elder.

Harvey A. Elder

Sharing the Gospel with patients and clinicians in medical settings is Harvey Elder’s lifelong passion. He is a pioneer in teaching spiritual care practices to health care professionals. Currently he sees patients with HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C at the SACHS clinic in San Bernardino. There, he also teaches spiritual care to medical students and residents from Loma Linda University Medical School and other institutions. A 1954 graduate of the Loma Linda University Graduate School with a masters in biochemistry and a 1957 graduate of the LLU School of Medicine, Harvey completed fellowship training in Infectious Diseases at Harvard University (1962-67).

He returned to LLU as chief of the Infectious Disease Section in 1968, and was the hospital epidemiologist from 1968-1987. In 1968, he also founded with Warren Peters the Social Action Corp (SAC) clinic now called the Social Action Community Health System (SACHS). He has served as professor of medicine at LLU from 1981 to the present, and as associate professor of Global Health in the School of Public Health. He was chief of the Infectious Disease Section at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center for twenty years. In 2012, he founded a support group for spouses of patients with dementia. He has lectured on the spiritual aspects of HIV care in 12 countries.

Charles W. Scriven

Charles W. Scriven, is perhaps best known for his writing, particularly for Spectrum where he has contributed from the first issue to the current journal now at press. But writing for Spectrum was something he did as a volunteer. He had a distinguished career as a pastor, including holding the Senior Pastor position at Sligo Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, from 1985 to 1992, where he helped to diversify the pastoral leadership by adding women to the team and he introduced alternative folk worship services while also strengthening the traditional mode.

A college president for over twenty years, he first served as a president at Columbia Union College in 1992. At the time, the school had been suffering from annual financial losses for well over a decade. He helped bring financial stability, in part, by pursuing and winning a religious discrimination lawsuit against the state of Maryland that now generates $1 million annually for the school. Next, at Kettering College of Medical Arts where he served as president for 12 years, he led a team in renovating the college curriculum and transitioning from a two-year college to a bachelor’s and master’s degree-granting institution.

Scriven will give the Clinton Emmerson Lecture at the Weniger Awards Ceremony. “How (and Why) to Disagree about the Bible” is the title of his address.


Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image courtesy of the Weniger Society.


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