September 24, 2012

Web Letters

Change and Why We Resist It
I really appreciated a number of articles in the August 16, 2012 Adventist Review. The openness of the report about the ordination discussion is commendable.

In the early church Peter quoted Joel when he said that in the end time God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh--irrespective of age and gender. In a sin-permeated world women have been treated unequally for millennia. They still are; more so in some countries than in others. Forty years ago I recall a conference administration wondering how they’d balance the budget because the General Conference had voted that women should receive equal pay for equal work. That must have been a difficult decision because we resist change and this was “reformation” that required change. The ordination issue, too, will require change, but it should not be tied to the 28 Fundamental Doctrines because it is part of church organization. To a large extent it is manmade.

Church leadership resisted change after 1888. There was resistance to change in church organization in 1901. The wearing of a wedding band has entailed decades of discussion. As a world church we strive for unity not uniformity. Cultural customs are bound to influence policies established in different parts of the world. As Adventists our minds should be open to hear what God’s Spirit is endeavoring to communicate to humankind.

The message in Gerald Klingbeil’s article, “He Spoke and It Was” should be noted. When God pours His Spirit on all flesh (irrespective of age or gender), why are we discussing ordination? Unity will come when reformation is more than policy.

--George Unger
Nampa, Idaho

Whatever Happened?
I appreciated the excellent articles by Shawn Boonstra and Anthony Kent dealing with the lost, "Whatever Happened to the Lost?" (Aug. 9, 2012). We are living in a society where people are bombarded with so much that they are cauterized to the needs of humanity. When we hear that no one will stop to care for someone who is being attacked it seems incomprehensible. Many people out there are lost; and it’s our responsibility to bring them to the Savior.

One of my sons has distributed hundreds of The Great Hope books, and has shared with me the hunger of people for spiritual food. One woman, whom he met twice, said that since reading the book she’s sleeping much better. Former Adventists have been contacted. I met a person who was raised in our church, went to our schools, and is now out of the church. We have a tremendous challenge to bring them back.

While working as interim pastor of my church, we re-baptized two couples who had been lost. Those who miss a church activity must be contacted by a pastor, elder, and also by phone!

Like the lost coin, there are many lost inside the church; people who come to only one meeting a week, who are not feeding on the Word, and who are not witnessing for Christ. We must have a passion for souls! We must care for those outside and inside the church. As Kent quoted Bible Commentator Klyne Snodgrass, if the character of God is to search for the lost, that should be our own character as well.

--Leo Ranzolin
Estero, Florida

I found Shawn Boonstra’s article “Whatever Happened to the Lost?” (Aug. 9, 2012) riveting, hitting my heart as no other recent article. It pointed out so much truth in our relation to those who hurt that I couldn’t lay it down until I had finished it.
I cannot change the world, but I will be even more aware of any help I can give to someone who is hurting. Let’s have more articles from Boonstra.

--Nellie Wilson Ondrizek
Coalmont, Tennessee

Education for All
I was touched by the article “Inclusive Teaching” (July 26, 2012). It is heartening to see the school in Syracuse, New York, reach out to this child’s needs, both educational and financial. As the parent of a child with developmental delays, I hope she will be able to attend our local Seventh-day Adventist elementary school someday.

However, I am only cautiously optimistic. First, the goal of accepting students regardless of the ability to pay, while admirable, has to have clear objectives and guidelines. Teachers have to be paid, materials purchased, and the physical building maintained.
There must be an amount that each student brings with them, regardless of where those dollars come from.

Second, I am concerned that including students regardless of “academic, behavioral, or financial difficulty” is an undefined and rather lofty goal. At present, my child is entering a special education classroom in the public school system. This has been a difficult decision for us, but our own school, while being willing, is not able to meet her needs. She has been assessed by a school psychologist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist to diagnose her deficits and set educational and behavioral goals. The classroom is designed to help keep students like her, who tend to wander away, contained and safe. The ratio is nearly 1:1. There is no way a teacher of a multi-grade classroom could teach and meet her needs at this time, certainly not without a full-time assistant. She is bright, loving, and socially-gifted child, but with a short attention span, no natural fear, boundless energy, and communication deficits, she would occupy all of the teacher’s time.

So how are our schools going to include children with Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autistic (even high functioning), cognitively delayed, physically handicapped, or possess other challenges and still keep them safe and meet their needs? Is there a team of professionals in each conference able to construct educational plans for special needs students and help teachers implement them? How can the school afford to hire the extra teaching assistants who will be needed?

I want desperately for my child to attend a Seventh-day Adventist elementary school; I have two older children already attending. But I also want her to be safe and able to learn without putting her at risk or unduly taxing a teacher with limited resources of time and special education training. What plans does the North American Division Educational Department have to make inclusion a well-defined and reachable goal?

Bottom line: Where are the plans? Where are the professionals? Where are the dollars?

--A Concerned Parent

Yes, I’d Do It Again
The question on the cover of the July 26, 2012 Adventist Review asks, “Would You Do It All Over Again?” I marked “yes!” I have no regrets.

I am so thankful I was given an Adventist education from first grade through college. For me, there are only two reasons Adventist children should be in public school: they can’t afford church school, or non-Adventist parents won’t allow them to attend.

I learned early that it cost money. My work experience to help pay began in ninth grade and continued through college. It included baby/child sitting, cafeteria dining room clean up, college laundry (especially hot in summer), one summer at a girls’ reformatory school, and office help.

Our two children did their part to help with school expenses. Our granddaughter begins first grade this fall at Spring Valley Academy. The best inheritance we can give our children is an Adventist education.

--Natalie Dodd
Centerville, Ohio

Music Matters
Thank you for publishing the deeply discerning article by Herbert Blomstedt, “Present Truth in Music” (July 12, 2012). I greatly appreciated his insights about truth and authenticity, especially his statements about performing music: “As a performer I must remain in the background. . . . One of the fundamental responsibilities of a performer is to know what the composer wants with his or her music and play it accordingly . . . not changing the notes or the rhythms . . . because we think we know better.”

It disturbs me when I hear some of our prominent soloists altering the melody and rhythm of well-known hymns, apparently thinking their made-up versions are “more beautiful than the originals.” It’s a “self-conscious effort to ‘improve’” on the composer’s original intent. And it adds insult to injury when they sometimes ask the audience to sing along, when the tune has been so changed that no one knows how to sing it. It seems that these performers have so long taken liberties with the music that they no longer know what the original tune was.

--Norman Severance
Kingman, Arizona