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Medical Missionary Work

Name: John Rogers

City, State: Gentry, AR

The current educational system does not provide for Medical Missionary Work options for the student. This means we are completely ignoring the Right Arm of the Gospel. There should at least be options for the student who seeks this type of training to get it before the twelfth (12th) grade.

The Adult Lesson Study should ask one (1) question at a time. When "machine gunned" with a lot of questions, it only serves to confuse a person, taking the mind off of the real subject.

Our logo, with six (6) flames, glorifies man instead of God or the Holy Spirit. It should have seven (7) flames - or better yet three and a half (3.5) in both the upper and lower sections.

Thoughts on Education

Name: LeRoy Washington

City, State: Kamuela, Hawaii

In recent times the Ohio Conference has taken an action to close Mt Vernon Academy at the end of this school year 2015 after extending an appeal for funding and failing to meet the deadline. The Washington Conference in the North Pacific Union is also appealing for funding to keep Auburn Academy functioning as a boarding academy. If their financial goals are not met by a date certain they will be transitioning to a day academy. These are just two examples of the changing dynamics in different social settings we are facing in our educational system.
While serving on the Board of Education for the Washington Conference in the North Pacific Union, (NPUC), in the 1990’s several studies following educational trends in parochial education across denominations were forecasting changing education paradigms. Our own SDA studies paralleled many of the findings.
In our own family we witnessed some of these dynamics. Our children were students at the elementary school and academy during the mid-80’s and 90’s. Auburn Adventist Academy is a Boarding Academy. Not wanting to board our high school age children we purposely moved in the proximity of the school so the children could remain at home. During the 70’s and 80’s the ratio of dormitory to village students as approximately 70% to 30%. As time has progressed that ratio continued to change and is now almost reversed, approximately 35% to 65% dormitory to village students. For a while the international students were able to make up for the financial shortfall.
This trend impacting our secondary education which are supported more at the conference level more than our elementary education which are supported at the church constituency level, not to say that many local schools are not struggling, is causing us to evaluate and adapt to changing times in the 21st century.
This question is how do we adapt to changing times in the 21st century? How do we adapt to an increasingly diverse urban population(s), (language[s]), and membership? We have been slow in heeding the warning signs. How do we adapt and flex? How do we implement difference in abilities and learning styles; those special needs on both ends; both the exceptionally bright students and those who have challenges in learning abilities? Over the years we have catered to the average/majority. More and more in this increasingly diverse society, in the 21st century, we are being challenged in education with exceptional and differing needs at both ends of the learning spectrum.
Chester Hitchcock, a pastor of the Medina, Barberton and New Philadelphia Churches in the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, wrote an interesting, informative article in Spectrum Magazine, February 23, 2015, pointing out statistical percentages of Adventist families taking advantage of, or not, of our education system that needs to be included in the conversation.
Paranoia and micro-managing at our higher education level (college), where families have even more options, and exercise even broader choices will be detrimental in the long run. Elementary and Secondary ‘Christian’ education are foundational is establishing religious and spiritual philosophies, higher education is responsible for preparation and exposure to the ‘real’ world in which students will encounter broad ranging and varying religious and secular philosophies. While maintaining and strengthening our religious/spiritual base failing to give exposure to, and provide a ‘world view’ very often results in a disservice when exposed without preparation or incite. It is interesting that with the furor around the biological sciences at La Sierra University a few years ago enrollment has yearly increased.

Why Do We Wonder if Adventist Education is Important?

Name: Sharon Crowder

City, State: Jacksonville, IL

I was so blessed to be able to teach at both Adventist and public schools, most notably at Broadview Academy the last 4 years of it's existence before it closed. Before the final constituency meeting we, staff members at BVA, began the 'Why?' conversations. We wrote a document with our basic purpose and many Bible verses and EGWhite quotes that address raising children and proper education, that document remains at the link:

A key question that we must grapple with from lessons learned from all the school closings is that while money has been the point of contention, is it the real problem? Is God short on money? Where our heart is, there our treasure will be. Until we address this as the spiritual problem that it is, until we recognize that we must care properly for our children (all children), how can the misplaced treasure issue be resolved. It is a spiritual issue with out children's eternal lives as outcome and parents and church members hearts as the battle field.

Lay membership

Name: Stan McCluskey

City, State: Naches, WA

Lay members need more influence about standards what their children are being taught.

Education as Mission

Name: Tad Jagitsch

City, State: Champaign, Illinois

I do NOT advocate change simply for the sake of change. Our society is obsessed with "new". Simply because something is new does not automatically make it better. Our church should not be caught up in the same foolishness as our culture. But at the same time, we MUST be willing to change if reasonable change is required. The old models of church operation are becoming outdated in some ways, but the Gospel is NOT. We must be willing to change our human portions of the institution if they loose their value.

Once upon a time, I worked at our state's boarding academy. Our state conference viewed the school as an enormous drain on its finances. Most of the staff, myself included, advocated marketing the school to the surrounding community (which was both affluent and interested), both as outreach and as a way to make the school self-supporting and profitable. The blunt response from our state conference administration was "Adventist Schools for Adventists". Period. Their rationale was that by introducing too many non-Adventists to the school, it would morally undermine the spiritual atmosphere of the school and the spiritual development of the Adventist students. The enrollment continued to drop, finances became more strained, and the school was forced to close. The conference intended to sell the property and reinvest the money back into the education system, which I must say were deeply discouraging and damaging by these same actions. In the name of keeping the school "pure" the school was forced to close. Is the state's education system better off? No, possibly even weaker than before.

Now, I fully understand that demographics have changed radically since the introduction of the boarding school model, and that many families are uncomfortable in sending their children away from home for weeks at a time. These things have had major impact on our educational system model. The end of the baby boom has made operating large physical plants difficult. Overhead has increased greatly and these schools have become very expensive to operate. There is no denying these facts. But where is our faith? Do we really believe that our Heavenly Father "Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills" has the ability to help us and grow His educational system or not? And yet when many people pray for guidance, brainstorm and come up with alternatives to facilitate the operation or expansion of our schools; our leaders can only see the obstacles, or worse, become obstacles.

This forum is an excellent idea. The above situation reflects strongly ALL of the issues the open forum is trying to address: evangelism and mission, leadership, and education. They are all three deeply intertwined. If we only see the obstacles and decide they are too great and give up, are we not denying the very faith we claim to believe? If we are afraid to mix with others not of our denomination or faith for fear of being compromised or contaminated, are we no better than the Pharisees that Jesus criticized? Shouldn't our leadership be willing to try new things and step out if faith and actively solicit new ideas, even if those new ideas upset their status quo?

We, in the North American Division, are VERY top-heavy administratively. Our overhead is HUGE. We don't have the funds to revitalize our schools. We worry about becoming irrelevant to our culture, yet when a genuine opportunity to evangelize occurs, we shrink back in fear and claim we can't afford to do it. God gives chances to grow and receive His blessings, but only if we will step out in faith and accept the challenges. If we are too afraid to act, He withdraws His favor for a time until we repent and ask for forgiveness. If we do not repent, we insult him with our pride and even further alienate ourselves from Him.

If we are so weak in our own faith that we must remain secluded to prevent contamination and overwhelming temptations, then we need to get on our faces before God and seek His forgiveness for not living up to the light that we have been given. If we are too spiritually weak to stand firm on Biblically based doctrine and can be swayed by contact with unbelievers, then we are no better than unbelievers ourselves and have denied the faith.

If we really believe the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, then we must accept that the great controversy is nearing a conclusion. We must do whatever is required, make whatever sacrifices are necessary, change whatever is not working, in order to make the last great effort to preach the everlasting gospel to a dying world. Our buildings, our retirement funds, our reputations and legacies are utterly worthless if we neglect the instructions of Jesus to go and tell but end up hearing instead, "Depart from Me. I never knew you."