Seventh-day Adventists, MWC begin dialogueBy Mennonite World Conference
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and Mennonite World Conference recently explored areas of common ground, both in history and theology.
Representatives of both groups held the first of several theological conversations June 28-July 1 at the world headquarters of the 17 million-member Seventh-day Adventist Church, where they exchanged ideas on “Living the Christian Life in Today’s World.”
After each group presented an overview of its history, papers were presented on peace, nonviolence and military service; discipleship and nonconformity; health, healing/salvation and ecology; and the nature and mission of the church.
Conversation co-chair Jack Suderman said recent SDA interest in investigating and recovering their Anabaptist affinities led them to seek these conversations.
Adventists and Anabaptists come from diverse historical backgrounds — Mennonites from the Anabaptist movement during the Reformation in the 16th century and Adventists from the Second Great Awakening in the U.S. in the 19th century.
They share a desire to recover the authenticity and passion of the New Testament church, a commitment to be nurtured by the Bible, a sense that obedience implies nonconformity, a similar understanding of Christian history, and a strong commitment to be followers of Jesus.
In its early days, the Adventist church stressed community, was pacifist, advocated adult baptism and encouraged discipleship to Jesus as Lord in ways similar to Anabaptism.
In a joint statement, SDA and MWC leaders said each shares “a desire to recover the authenticity and passion of the New Testament church, a similar understanding of Christian history, and a strong commitment to be followers of Jesus in their personal lives and in their corporate witness to the world.”
“By sitting down and talking with those of other faiths, we gain a deeper understanding of who they are,” said John Graz, SDA public affairs and religious liberty director and event coordinator.
MWC President Danisa Ndlovu expressed his thanks to the Adventist Church for hosting the conversation.
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