On May 20, 2017, Adventist lay members from across the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) gathered together at the Chewelah and Stateline Seventh-day Adventist churches for an event entitled “World Church Affirmation Sabbath.” The afternoon program included seven presentations loosely organized around the theme of “Forward—With Yesterday in View,” with the focus of the event being the affirmation and support of the Seventh-day Adventist world church.
According to the event brochure, the World Church Affirmation Sabbath (WCAS) event originated in March 2016 from conversations between members of the UCC Lay-Advisory Committee in the context of a demonstrated lack of harmony between NAD church leaders and General Conference leadership. The objective of the event was to provide an opportunity for the laypeople of the Upper Columbia Conference to demonstrate their affirmation of the world church.
The World Church Affirmation Sabbath at Stateline Seventh-day Adventist church was attended by members from over 15 churches across the Upper Columbia Conference. It began with a formal welcome by Janet Neumann, the event coordinator, who presented a brief overview of the objectives and purpose behind the event. She emphasized that the goal of the event was to affirm and uplift Christ through an affirmation of His global remnant church. After a brief review of the upcoming program, she passed the microphone to Pastor Mike Lambert for the opening prayer.
How We’ve Been Led
The first talk was presented by Ron Duffield, a local respiratory therapist and author of multiple books on the subject of 1888 and righteousness by faith, including Return of the Latter Rain and Wounded in the House of Friends. Duffield briefly reviewed the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church, demonstrating how a knowledge of God’s leading in our past is essential to the carrying out of our God-given mission today.
What is Protestant Biblical Interpretation?
The second talk was presented by Kent Knight, a retired pastor currently serving on the UCC Executive Committee. Knight argued that the Bible contains principles of interpretation that, if faithfully followed, will unfailingly lead to Biblical truth. He presented an overview of the historical-grammatical method of Biblical interpretation advocated by Adventists since the inception of the Second Advent Movement, and called for church members to study God’s word with greater seriousness and enthusiasm.
Messenger to the Remnant
The third talk was presented by Eric Wenberg, an active lay member and Pathfinder leader from Oregon. Wenberg reviewed the Biblical identity of the remnant church found in Revelation 12:17, and presented clear evidence for the prophetic gift of Ellen White. He called for church members to affirm Ellen White’s prophetic ministry, and to faithfully read and study her writings.
Dangers at the Door
The fourth talk was presented by Carol Elder, a stay-at-home mom currently serving as the head deaconess of the Ritzville Adventist church. Elder explored the Bible’s teachings on sin and salvation, demonstrating how the righteousness of Christ redeems and transforms us, through no merit of our own. She appealed to the congregation to take hold of the gifts and provisions that God has made for our salvation, and to seek Christ daily.
Truths We Must Share
The fifth talk was presented by Ricky Kearns, a South African-born nurse currently serving on the health evangelism team at the College Place Village Adventist church. Kearns directed the congregation’s attention to Revelation 14:12. He argued that, while the commandments of God have been thoroughly explored and presented, the faith of Jesus has not been likewise esteemed. He called for church members to study and share both aspects of the Gospel in their fullness—the message of righteousness by faith.
Non-Unity to Unity: How?
The sixth talk was presented by Phil Hutchins, a veteran of the Vietnam War currently serving as an elder in the Prosser Adventist church. Hutchins defined unity as “the state of being in full agreement.” Citing examples such as Hitler’s Nazi’s and the Hell’s Angels biker gang, he argued that unity alone cannot glorify God; rather, true unity must be found in laying aside our individual biases and preconceptions, and mutually surrendering to God’s will as revealed in His word.
In Affirmation of the World Church
The seventh talk was presented by Kim Kjaer, a former Amazing Facts evangelist who currently serves as the president of Clear Voice, a non-profit evangelism education ministry. Kjaer reviewed the history of God’s people throughout the ages, showing how, time and time again, God has led His people through unimaginable obstacles and difficulties. He closed with an appeal to stick with the Seventh-day Adventist church, no matter the outlook, because God will lead His people home.
Kjaer’s talk concluded the afternoon presentations. The World Church Affirmation Sabbath event ended with a potluck and Q&A session.
The event organizer, Janet Neumann, announced that this event is to be the first of many similar events throughout the Upper Columbia Conference from this point forward. The next World Church Affirmation Sabbath is planned for September 16, 2017, and will contain presentations on the theme of “Forward—In Unity and Faith.” For more information on future WCAS events, see http://www.affirmationsabbath.org/.