The South Pacific Division (SPD) hosted a Symposium on Ellen White and Contemporary Adventism on November 6, 2022 — an all-day, online event, that featured six keynote presentations, four short videos about Ellen White’s life in Australia, and live Q&A sessions with the presenters.
“The event addressed the role of Ellen White’s writings in Adventism,” SSD field secretary Darius Jankiewicz said. “The relationship between Scripture and White’s writings was well defined by the Adventist pioneers; however, over time, we have tended to neglect or forget the guidance of early Adventists regarding the role of Ellen White’s writings. Consequently, we need frequent reminders of the responsible use of Ellen White’s writings in the life of the church.”
The symposium was the result of close collaboration between four entities: the SPD Field Secretariat, the Ellen White Research Centre, the Adventist Heritage Centre, and Adventist Media.
One significant challenge to overcome was the loss of internet connection during the second presentation, but thankfully the show sailed on as the keynote was uploaded to the cloud and the hosts were able to use mobile phone hotspots to host the next segment.
“Despite some serious technical issues that initially impacted the symposium, viewers rated the symposium as an outstanding success,” Jankiewicz said.
Viewers tuned in from around the world, including places as diverse as Nigeria, the U.S. state of California, and Portugal. Students and faculty gathered to follow the event from Pacific Adventist University and Sonoma Adventist College in Papua New Guinea and Fulton Adventist University College in Fiji.
A day after the event, online attendees have watched the symposium for an accumulated 28,000 minutes.
Topics included “The Nature of Inspiration and How It Works”; “Reading Ellen White’s Writings Responsibly”; “The Godhead in the Writings of Ellen White”; and more.
Short documentary pieces featured interesting anecdotes and reenactments from Ellen White’s life in Australia, including her impact on the local community and the legacy she left on the church in this part of the world. The videos were produced by the Adventist Heritage Centre and filmed at Ellen White’s former home, Sunnyside, in Cooranbong, New South Wales, by Adventist Media.
One of the organizers of the conference, and the person instrumental in pulling together the videos, SPD Adventist Heritage director David Jones, had his staff supporting the moderation of comments.
Viewers and guests alike said they enjoyed the Q&A segments hosted by creative writer and artist Maryellen Hacko and Adventist Record and Signs of the Times editor Jarrod Stackelroth. Those segments allowed participants to unpack and explore the topics beyond what was covered in the presentations, participants said.
On-call local experts, who had helped to organize the program, were on hand to help pass on audience questions. They included Mark Pearce, director of the Ellen G. White and Adventist Research Centre at Avondale University; John Skrzypaszek, his recently retired predecessor; and Jankiewicz.
Brett Donald from Adventist Media was key in helping with the technical side, running the livestream and providing technical support.
The symposium was the first of three planned events and is available to watch online.