Reinaldo W. Siqueira, dean of the School of Theology at Brazil Adventist University outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, has been named the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s new chief liaison to the Jewish community.
The General Conference Administrative Committee has voted Siqueira as the director of the World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center, which operates under the auspices of Adventist Mission and oversees the world church’s relations with the Jewish people.
“I accept this call from the church with humility, counting it as an honor and a privilege bestowed upon my family and me by the Lord through His church,” Siqueira said. He has overseen the South American Division's relations with the Jewish people since 2003.
“I pray that the Lord might guide us in service for the glory of His name and the advancement of the mission of our church,” he told Adventist Mission.
Siqueira, who has established Jewish-Adventist congregations in the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Campinas, Manaus, and Florianopolis, is well-equipped as the new director of the center, Gary Krause, director of Adventist Mission, said.
“I’m delighted that Dr. Siqueira has accepted this new role,” Krause said. “He has a rich understanding of Jewish history and culture and has participated in many interfaith dialogues with Jewish leaders. He will help build even better bridges of understanding with the Jewish people — to whom we are deeply indebted as Seventh-day Adventists.”
The World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center is “a multinational organization dedicated to fostering mutual respect, dialogue, understanding, education, and research between Israel and the church, especially between Jews and Adventists,” according to its website.
“The closeness and similarities between Adventism and Judaism (style of life, Sabbath, Messiah, etc.) give them the unique opportunity to generate interfaith dialogue at the highest levels, bringing together Jewish and Adventist leaders and renowned scholars,” the website says.
Richard Elofer recently retired after serving as the center’s director for more than two decades.
Siqueira said he looks forward to continuing on the path blazed by his predecessor.
“I would like, first of all, to recognize the exceptional work done by Elder Richard Elofer in the last 21 years as the director of this center,” he said. “I think that my first responsibility is to continue to move forward in the tracks that he laid, bringing a better understanding and true friendship between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Jewish people.”
He said the two groups have much in common as “people of the Book,” and he expressed hope that dialogue would topple any walls of prejudice and misconception that have impeded God from realizing His full will for both groups.
“This is the divine will for blessings and peace — ‘shalom,’ which literally means not only ‘peace’ but ‘fullness’ — that He has made plain in His Word,” he said.
Krause also paid tribute to Elofer’s work at the center. “He brought to the church a better and richer understanding of Jews and has modeled in his own life the meaning of the name of the center,” he said.
Siqueira has served as dean of the School of Theology and as professor of Old Testament languages, theology, and exegesis at Brazil Adventist University in Engenheiro Coelho, Brazil, since 2016. Before that, he served as dean of the Latin American Adventist Theological Seminary of the South American Division from 2012 to 2015 and director of Adventist-Jewish relations for the Central Brazil Union from 1998 to 2002. He also taught at Sagunto Adventist College in Sagunto, Spain, in 1985 and 1986. Siqueira holds a doctorate in religion (Old Testament studies) from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, and a master's and bachelor's degree in theology from Adventist University of France in Collonges-sous-Salève, France. He has pursued post-doctorate work in Jewish languages and literature.
He speaks Portuguese as his native language, but also speaks Spanish, English, and French fluently, and upper-intermediate Hebrew. He holds certificates in modern Hebrew from a language school in Jerusalem, Israel, and Ulpan of the Jewish Community of Geneva in Switzerland.
The World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center is one of six Global Mission centers under the auspices of Adventist Mission that serve as liaisons between the Adventist Church and specific people groups. The other centers are the Center for East Asian Religions, the Center for South Asian Religions, the Center for Secular and Post-modern Studies, the Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations, and the Global Mission Urban Center.