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Spectrum’s Top Stories of 2023

Spectrum's Top Stories

One of my favorite things at the end of the year is to jump into the Spectrum website analytics and look at what stories were read the most in the previous year. There are so many great stories at the top of the list that it’s hard to decide where to make the cutoff. This year we’ll take a look at the top 10. As always, there are many stories that didn’t quite rise to the top but were memorable or important in different ways, so there are some honorable mentions that also deserve a reread.

#10 La Sierra University President Resigns Amid Faculty Concerns

In an example of Spectrum’s premier coverage of Adventist education issues, Spectrum Executive Editor Alexander Carpenter wrote about La Sierra University President Joy A. Fehr resigning in the face of faculty concerns about university leadership and direction. The story was also cited by Inside Higher Ed, a publication that covers higher education topics.

#9 Former Kettering Health Leaders Accused of Financial Misuse

In late 2022, Spectrum began reporting about the abrupt departure of Fred Manchur as CEO of Kettering Health. Then this year, more reports came out about the specific allegations of misusing organizational funds and other ethical improprieties. For this story, I wrote about the complaints that had been filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Later in the year, Kettering Health confirmed that its own internal investigation also found that funds had been misused. It remains to be seen whether there will be further legal repercussions for Manchur and other leaders during his tenure.

Honorable mention: Why We Should Reform How We Elect General Conference Presidents

Columnist Matthew Quartey took a look at another aspect of governance within Adventism, examining if there could be better methods to elect leaders. “What other ways could the church reform its election mechanism so leaders don’t get into questionable alliances that could hamstring their ethics and hinder good governance?” he writes.

#8: Andrews University Board Faces Presidential Choice

When Andrea Luxton announced her retirement as president of Andrews University last year, it was immediately clear that picking a replacement would be an important signal about the direction of Adventist higher education. In March, ahead of the official vote, Alexander Carpenter wrote about how John Wesley Taylor V was GC President Ted Wilson’s favored candidate—and how many faculty on campus were concerned about the choice. Soon after, Taylor was confirmed as the next president. Since then, there has been more conflict on campus as Taylor has begun in the role.

#7: Canadian Adventist Church Helps Local Refugees—And More News

This roundup of news headlines featured a story from the Toronto Sun about an Adventist church in Canada that has worked to provide aid to local refugees. From the opening of the newspaper story:

It’s the least they could do.

That’s what Pastor Andre Anderson, of Scarborough’s Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, had to say about his congregation’s efforts to provide about 250 refugees—some who have been sleeping on the streets—with the basic necessities of life.

With refugees arriving in many countries and local communities due to a variety of world conflicts in 2023, this story captured the interest of many people.  

Honorable mention: Hosting of Stephen Bohr Creates Chaos in Potomac Conference Churches

Stephen Bohr, leader of the independent ministry Secrets Unsealed, was the subject of controversy after the Potomac Conference attempted to keep him from speaking at several of its churches. Spectrum correspondent Sam Girven did a deep dive on the story with detailed reporting about all sides.

#6 General Conference Responds to Bisexual Pastor Retaining Credentials

Saša Gunjević gained widespread attention on social media when he came out publicly as bisexual in January. Unlike some similar cases in the past, the pastor from the Hanseatic Conference in Germany did not resign, and the local conference continued to support his ministry. Several months later, the General Conference issued an official statement, noting its displeasure with the situation (though not naming Gunjević).

Honorable Mention: The Untold Story of Glacier View

William G. Johnsson, former editor of the Adventist Review and a renowned author, died in March. In this previously unpublished interview that Spectrum published shortly after his death, Johnsson recounts his perspective on the Glacier View conference. The conference is known as one of the most momentous events for the Adventist Church in the 20th century and also marked a battle over church authority.  

#5 A Visit to the Viral Lee University Revival

This story caught the attention of many readers outside the regular Spectrum audience. As a revival caught national attention and turned into a viral story at Lee University in Tennessee, Adventist pastor Greg Hudson visited that school to see what was happening first hand. His account was featured in the top results on Google News, which led to many more readers finding the story.

Honorable mention: Sister White and Uncle Oscar: The Curious Adventist/Academy Awards Connection

People don’t often associate Adventism with Hollywood, but during Oscar’s season, Tompaul Wheeler took an entertaining look at how Adventism has appeared in some of the biggest movies in recent decades. It turns out that there are more Adventist connections than you would ever initially guess!

#4 Fixing the Finances of the Adventist Church: Appointing Leaders

Roger Keaton is the chief financial officer of a social services organization. Previously, he was General Conference auditor and a conference associate treasurer. In a three-part series, he wrote about fixing different aspects of Adventist governance, in this installment tackling how the church chooses its leaders.

Honorable mention: Should We Change the Way We Talk About Tithe?

Tithe is one of the issues often identified as in need of reform. Jacklyn Frias, a Spectrum editor and social media creator, examined how younger Adventists feel about tithe and how many feel frustrated with the “trickle-up” system.

#3 Former Felon, now Adventist Pastor, Advocates for Former Prisoners—and More News

This news roundup featured a fascinating story by the Religion News Service about how an Adventist pastor, who overcame his own criminal past, is advocating for New York state to give former criminals a better second chance.

Honorable mention: Visiting the First Adventist Church in the Metaverse

Alita Byrd, Spectrum’s interviews editor, took a trip into the Metaverse to see what a church service in virtual reality looks like. Reginald Richardson Jr., a pastor in the Oregon Conference, had been at the forefront of exploring what the Metaverse could offer Adventist communities. But in an example of how fast things change in the virtual reality space, Microsoft shut down the AltSpace VR platform shortly after Byrd’s visit.  

#2 Kenyan Adventist Thanks God for Winning Mega Jackpot—and More News

Spectrum is fortunate and proud to have a large international audience. This collection of news stories, headlined by a Kenyan church member winning a lottery drawing, drew many of those worldwide readers.

#1. Fix Adventist Schools: Focus on Jesus, Change Church Leadership, Increase Pay

And for the most-read article on the Spectrum website in 2023, a look at how Adventist education can reverse declining enrollment trends and staff retention issues. A longtime education leader who most recently was the vice president of education for the Oregon Conference, Crosby identifies three areas where Adventist education can improve. With multiple stories on this list about education, it’s obvious that the topic is such an important one for Spectrum readers. In 2024, the whole Spectrum team will continue to cover education—and all of the other issues that matter within Adventism. We thank the whole community for the support that makes our work possible!

About the author

Alex Aamodt is an editor-at-large and the Roy Branson Investigative Reporter for Spectrum. More from Alex Aamodt.
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