by Samuel Pagan, Student Assistant at the Center for Adventist Research
Many staff, faculty, and students—including myself—waited with great expectation for The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History Symposium which would take place from October 15-18, 2015, in warm remembrance of the Adventist prophetic figure, Ellen White, who died 100 years ago this past summer.
Opening night saw the arrival of other participants and attendees who came from different parts of the world field. The Symposium was hosted on the beautiful campus of Andrews University and featured 22 presentations including speakers such as Dwight K. Nelson, Alberto Timm, Jiří Moskala, Merlin Burt, Ángel M. Rodríguez, and Ekkehardt Mueller. The symposium encompassed a wide range of topics related to the Gift of Prophecy and included Old Testament scholars, New Testament Scholars, and Ellen G. White scholars. I saw scholars from various Adventist institutions in North America and overseas. I also witnessed General Conference president Ted Wilson, attending the meetings. I could feel the excitement and also the reverence in the room. I realized that in coming together for this names Symposium, we were acknowledging—even more so professing that God has, in fact, led His people through the prophetic voice which has affected each one of us.
I was happy to receive at registration a hard-copy of the newly published book, The Gift of Prophecy, which had all the lectures that were to be presented during the long weekend. As the sessions got underway, I enjoyed the presentation topics, the format of the symposium, and especially the panel discussion which gave attendees the opportunity to participate through written questions. The presenters were well prepared with their topics and did a good job in making their various points. During the panel discussion some seemed a bit timid when taking on the challenges of some of the questions by the attendees. Nevertheless, the questions were addressed to the best of their abilities and we all were benefited and greatly blessed.
The Sabbath was truly a high Sabbath. It began on Friday evening with two important lectures relevant to current concerns. These were followed by the performance of a beautiful Symphony entitled, “We, From Battle Creek,” written especially for the Symposium and dedicated to the spirit of the Adventist pioneers.
Sabbath morning continued highlighting the importance and role of the gift of prophecy in the Adventist Church. The excitement and enthusiasm of the previous day seemed to be on the rise with each hour, as I witnessed the Pioneer Memorial Church fill to capacity. Elder Ted Wilson preached a sermon which was his personal testimony to the importance of Ellen White’s ministry in the church. He revealed in the course of his talk that his great-grandfather had come to know the Adventist message through an evangelistic tent meeting where he heard Ellen White speak. The whole Wilson family owed their conversion to Adventism to the personal ministry of the Adventist prophetess. His strong commitment to Ellen White’s ministry was affirmed.
The Sabbath afternoon presentations, also held in the Pioneer Memorial Church, again witnessed abundant attendance. Other wonderful lectures, more specific to Ellen White’s ministry, appealed to the larger lay crowd.
Two moments stood out for me during this session. The first was David Trim’s presentation on how Ellen White’s writings address the urgency of the Adventist mission—those of us in the audience really felt her passion for reaching the world. The second came during the panel discussion when the participants were asked to share their own opinion on which book by Ellen White was the most important one. Merlin Burt, Director of the Center for Adventist Research responded, “The one you read.”
I believe the Symposium has reminded us of God’s wonderful gift of prophecy, and of our duty to read the prophetic writings.