It’s Check-In Time!

by Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten Director of Education and History In the September 2015 edition of the Sabbath Recorder, the Christian Education Council unveiled this year’s Scripture Memory Program. Selected by our Conference President, the Rev. Dr. Ken Chroniger, the verses in this year’s program were focused on the Conference theme, “Faith, Family, Education.” Churches were sent sample program literature with the completion certificates from the 2014-2015 program (for those members who completed it) in time to begin this year’s program in October. The program consists of nine short passages of Scripture which correspond to the nine months of the program, with one passage highlighted each month. As an alternative, participants are also permitted to memorize a chapter of the Bible (this year, it was Psalm 32). Since the program was announced, across the Conference, Seventh Day Baptists have been working hard to memorize this year’s Scriptures as they hide God’s word in their hearts. This effort was promoted heavily by our Conference President during his travels, as he is hoping to have 500 individuals complete this year’s program. Successful completion of the program requires a witness to verify that the Scripture passages have been successfully memorized. Notice of the completion is to be submitted to your local church (probably to your Sabbath School Superintendent or Coordinator). They submit a report to the Conference offices so that you and your church can be properly recognized. The forms for reporting to the Conference office are available at the General Conference website: www.seventhdaybaptist.org/ scripturememory, or you can call and request printed copies from the Center directly by calling (608) 752-5055. Individuals who successfully complete the program each year receive a certificate honoring their achievement. Individuals who successfully complete multiple years of the program are eligible for additional recognition. Local SDB congregations who participate in the program have the possibility of being recognized through two awards given yearly. The first of these awards, the Mary G. Clare Scripture Memory Bowl, is given to the church with the most members who complete the program. A new award will also be given this year to the church with the highest percentage of the members who complete the program (a...

Merger Between SDB Historical Society and SDB General Conference Completed!

Merger Between SDB Historical Society and SDB General Conference Completed! by Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten Director of Education and History On April 6th, we received paperwork at the General Conference offices which documented the finalizing of the merger between the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of USA & Canada, Ltd. and the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society. The completion of this paperwork with the State of Wisconsin represents the completion of a process which stretched over several years. The Historical Society’s membership carefully contemplated a request to merge originally made by the General Conference’s Ad Hoc Committee on Denominational Restructuring. Prior to the merger, the Historical Society was a separately incorporated non-profit organization in the State of Wisconsin, carrying forward an arrangement that had been in effect since the original incorporation of the Historical Society in New Jersey in 1916. In response to the General Conference’s request, the Society took a straw poll with the membership to get a sense of their general disposition towards merger. When the membership demonstrated openness to considering the proposal, the Historical Society convened its own committee to explore the possibility in greater depth and to make a recommendation back to the rest of the Society’s membership. After gathering the facts, the Society’s committee ultimately recommended the merger, which the members of the Society passed in consecutive years by wide margins. The General Conference, having made the initial recommendation, also approved the merger with the stipulations asked for by the Historical Society. As a result of the merger, the work of preserving and promoting Seventh Day Baptist history is now the work of the Council on History of the SDB General Conference, with the former Directors of the Historical Society becoming the new members of the Council on History. Members of the Historical Society will see their memberships converted into supporter categories of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Library and Archives. They will maintain all of the rights and privileges they held previously with the Society, except the right to vote directly on history business. Election of new members of the Council on History will now take place at the yearly meetings of the General Conference. The Historical Society...

Just the Facts!

by Rob Appel Executive Director   The Set Up During my travels this past six months, I have encountered a lot of confusion about the Conference, the Directors, locations, the Center, and of course, where I live and work. So allow me to clear up some of the confusion — at least for those of you who read the Sabbath Recorder. Here are the thoughts and statements that I have heard recently: 1. Because the Board of Christian Education and the Historical Society have legally merged with the General Conference, the Missionary Society is next. WHOA! NOT SO FAST! Clarification — One of the recommendations of the Ad Hoc II committee in 2010 was that, “Independently incorporated agencies of the denomination (Historical,  Christian Education, Missionary Society) be legally merged with the General Conference, but that the  Memorial Board remain independently incorporated to provide legal liability protection.” However, the Ad Hoc II members also stated their recommendations were NOT: • A performance evaluation of any our current Boards, Agencies, or Executives • Something that we will put into place immediately • Something that will be forced on any group or individuals This last one of the NOTs is what I would like to address. They were stating that they were NOT forcing anyone to do what they were suggesting. That it was entirely up to the Board or Society to make the decision without feeling coerced. The Ad Hoc II Committee also went on to state, “Changes will be encouraged, not forced, on the independently incorporated societies.” The SDB Missionary Society, under the direction Clint Brown, is really busy sending pastors and people into countries that are in sore need of training. They are so busy that the very idea that they should be working on something that would take them away from the focus of Kingdom work would be a distraction that was not needed. I agree with them! 2. Rob is working year-round out of California, and therefore the SDB Center has moved. NO, it hasn’t! Clarification — Some have jumped to the conclusion that since I work part of the year from my home in California, that the Center has left Wisconsin. But it hasn’t — and it won’t....

End of the Road in Mozambique

End of the Road in Mozambique

May 20, 2016

By Clinton R. Brown Executive Director I will not soon forget the night in Mozambique I was driving down a roadway and the highway disappeared. It was April of 2016 and we had been visiting African SDB churches that day in the Milange District within sight of the border of Malawi. I was accompanied by Douglas Machado of Brazil, as a translator, because the brethren there spoke Portuguese, but not English. On the way out to that region, I had taken a turn operating the vehicle since, besides our driver, I was the only one with some practice driving on the left and had a valid driver’s license. Driving on the other side with a left-handed shifter can be a fairly harrowing experience even in the daylight — especially where the roadway is not in good repair, the drivers are aggressive, and you often share the streets with children, carts, and livestock. This is one of those situations where you can easily find yourself consciously seeking a perpetual state of prayer. I had eagerly given back the wheel after a couple hours as the sun began to set. Around 2 p.m. the following afternoon, we were about eleven hours away from the city where we had a flight the next day. Even starting our return then meant we could hope for, at best, a 1 a.m. arrival in the vicinity of Nampula Airport. I endeavor to maintain a good bit of buffer in our schedule for unanticipated challenges that are common in developing world ministry. Keeping that truck moving was fairly important to me so that we could get back with plenty of time to spare. The vehicle we were in was a large red Toyota Double Cab 4×4 truck with a shell over the bed that the Conference Secretary’s brother used for his construction business. He was glad to drive, but as the night wore on and the road way had fewer and fewer vehicles, Bartolomeu realized he was struggling to stay awake. I had been napping, anticipating the need to take a turn, so when he gave me the nod I knew it was time to focus. The lack of cars was...

Hell is for Christians

Hell is for Christians

May 20, 2016

by Phil Lawton Assistant Pastor at the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ I believe in hell. I believe it is eternal. And I believe that people stay there. Most of you might not be surprised by me saying this, but some of you will be. Those that are closest to me might be downright shocked. But that is not why I’m writing this. No. The shocking thing is, I believe that many who call themselves Christians, who have said the sinner’s prayer, will end up in hell. First let me say that what we believe informs how we live. In today’s culture we sometimes think that we can have a belief and not have it affect us. This is really not the case. If I didn’t believe the chair that I am sitting in will hold me up I wouldn’t be sitting in it. I say this because this is vastly important to what we believe about God, sin, hell, heaven, and just about anything else in the Christian faith. What we believe will dictate how we live. If it doesn’t, then you really don’t believe it. Plain and simple. I think that the best way for me to prove my point is to tell you my story. I do this not because I think that it is unique. I do it because what I now believe (and have believed in the past) informs how I live and preach. It shapes my relationship to God. It shapes how I relate to others. But most importantly, I feel that my story is the story of so many who are still Christians, and of so many more who have turned their backs on the faith. To Hell and Back Again I accepted Christ when I was five years old. I really didn’t know what it meant. But I did know that I wanted to be with God. As I grew up I became aware that I had made the right choice. I realized that what I didn’t want was to burn in hell for eternity. I knew that if I hadn’t made that choice that I would suffer. That is something I never wanted....