Ellen White Symposium Response

Could the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists be a helpful tool moving forward?

Commentary April 25, 2024

25 April 2024| Bracknell, UK [tedNEWS]

For the estimated 800-1,000 participants, the April 19 – 21 Trans-European Division-sponsored Ellen White Symposium was a first. Held on the campus of Newbold College of Higher Education, the Symposium was built on the foundation of Newbold’s annual bible conference. The plan was to blend the Newbold Bible Conference aims (to “challenge, inspire, and spark a deeper level of curiosity and exploration of Scripture within your spiritual journey”) with the vision of the TED branch of the White Estate asking the relevant question, is there “still a prophetic voice in Europe?”

From a very small, random but diverse sample of participants, tedNEWS shares their reaction to the Symposium.

Andrew Rock (Reading, UK) found the symposium “very enlightening. For the first time, I heard presenters speaking passionately, convincingly, and biblically about Ellen White, and not just quoting her in a sermon. This has been the most in-depth consideration of Ellen White and the Spirit of Prophecy I have ever experienced.”

David Richardson (Grantham, UK) observed, “Through the lenses of Old and New Testament, history and even gender, I heard confirmation that Ellen White’s writings are unique, inspired and still a loud prophetic voice.”

Claudiu Popescu  (Pastor, Scottish Mission) shared, “This was the first symposium on the role of Ellen White I have experienced in my ministry, which was very well organised and in which teens and youth have been part of the whole experience.

Pastors Ndlovu & Popescu, along with Chloe and Karen (Scottish Mission youth),

The weekend affirmed for me that a history of Seventh-day Adventists would be incomplete without Ellen White’s role in forming our doctrines and institutions. Apart from the carpenter from Galilee, Adventism is bigger than any one person. We have never been known as Whiteists in the same way that Lutherans, Calvinists, Hutterites, Wesleyans, or Salvationists have been identified with their founders.

For these reasons, I feel comfortable defending Ellen White’s spiritual gift, who always uplifted the Bible as the solely infallible source.”

Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie (Pastor, Netherlands) commented, “I found the symposium to be a good way to rediscover Ellen White as a person and her prophecies as God’s message to humanity. Why? Because I have felt for a while that, as a Church, we may have done her a disservice by trying to ‘repackage’ her various messages through compilations, causing her to have a voice that is experienced by many as ‘nagging’ rather than a genuine concern from God. The presentations by Dr Santrač and Dr Milanov particularly tickled me to revisit the writings of Ellen with the same exegetical curiosity I use to approach the Old and New Testament.

Understanding Ellen White’s historical context is essential, but thanks to Dr Burton’s presentation, I was also helped to recalibrate my own biases concerning her as a person: How does the narrative ‘about Ellen’, with regards to her not finishing school, surviving a head injury, and being called at a young age, colour our reading and understanding of her writings?

It was very encouraging to me that so many of us got to hear the reasons various presenters admire her work. The convictions echoed were infectious, and I hope that as I correctly revisit her works—thank you, Dr Barna—I may come to the same level of enthusiasm as expressed by Dr Burt and others.

Dutch delegation at the E G White Symposium 2024
Netherlands Union of Churches president Rob der Raad (front row centre) with approximately half of the pastoral team. Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie front row left.

Quite honestly, I hope it does, particularly as we were reminded of our duty of care and responsibility towards the younger generations by the wonderful presentation of the youngsters themselves under the guidance of pastor Arne Bredesen. The central question of the symposium was, is there “still a prophetic voice in Europe” today? I believe enough evidence was presented to suggest that there is, but also that ‘her voice’ could be louder and heard better if we do her writings justice. A tall order, but a promising one, wouldn’t you agree?”

More Feedback 

A number of participants provided general feedback on certain presentations.  Some felt a few presentations were too academic and not what they were expecting. Others noted that some presentations revisited previously held views on Ellen White’s ministry.

Similar questions also arose concerning how to interpret Ellen White, how to teach a balanced view of her messages, and what to do with those who insist on elevating her writings above scripture, not least through overuse.

The Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists

As one of the presenters at the Symposium – with her presentation “New Testament and the Gift of Prophecy, Dr Dragoslava Santra is a specialist in Old Testament and biblical languages. Her current ministry focus is on serving as the Managing Editor of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA), of which she gave a brief presentation during the Symposium.

The Managing Editor of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists shares how it can be a go-to resource for sharing inspirational stories with today’s generation about how the Lord has led this movement.

“How do we, as Seventh-day Adventists, help our children and youth keep the memory of God’s leading alive? How do we help our children love our Christian Adventist identity? How do we help ourselves and the next generation continue the Adventist church’s legacy to the world?

One of the excellent online resources is ESDA. With over 4,000 articles on Adventist people, missionaries, pioneers, church administrators, educators, medical workers, the history of our institutions, and the establishment of Adventist mission work in all countries around the world, it is a must-go-to resource.

What is the added value of this encyclopedia? The hundreds of inspirational stories it contains, giving spiritual and practical insights about how Adventists faced challenges and opportunities, allow us to draw valuable and practical lessons from the past for today and the future.

Discover for yourself where ESDA might take you!


[Photos: Jimmy Botha, Vanesa Pizzuto, David Neal, and Claudiu Popescu].






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