March 14, 2024

Cohort Completes Ellen G. White and Adventist Studies Certificate

AIIAS graduates in the Philippines represented several church regions.

Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Group photo of the graduating students with White Estate director Merlin Burt (first row, fifth from left) at the end of the February 22 ceremony. [Photo: Southern Asia-Pacific Division News]

A four-year journey of the Andrews University-run Ellen G. White and Adventist Studies Graduate Certificate Program ended on February 22 at a ceremony held at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

The Ellen G. White Estate at the General Conference and Andrews University created the certificate program for those Adventist college and university instructors who don’t have advanced degrees in Adventist studies, school leaders explained. The program aims to improve the educational skills of Adventist research and archive directors, with an emphasis on Ellen G. White and Adventist history. The certificate is earned after completing 18 units and is a significant accomplishment for educators seeking to improve the level of Adventist education, leaders said.

The certificate program was divided into four separate cohorts, covering Europe and North America, South America, Asia, and Africa. The most recent group included twenty college and university representatives from the South Pacific Division (SPD), Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), and Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), organizers said. The recent cohort that completed the program includes individuals from the China, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.

Merlin Burt, director of the White Estate at the General Conference, encouraged participants to deeply engage with the profound teachings of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, as the writings of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White are known. Burt also motivated them to enthusiastically share the knowledge they acquired from their group study.

Andrews University president John Wesley Taylor sent a video message of congratulations. Jiří Moskala, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews, shared comments online. GC vice president Audrey Andersson and AIIAS Theological Seminary dean Ricardo Gonzalez also participated.

Burt added a personal touch to the celebration by presenting each graduating student with a keepsake, a copy of The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, as a gesture of thanks.

Two cohort participants, SSD Spirit of Prophecy coordinator Edgar Bryan Tolentino and Mahaingam Varah from Adventist Pacific International University in Thailand, gave Burt a class gift as the students’ expression of gratitude.

The program faced substantial hurdles from the beginning, as it was launched just two weeks before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person classes were suspended for two years due to restrictions and safety concerns. They were able to resume in January 2023. More recently, the program was also affected by the eruption of the Taal volcano, school leaders shared.

According to Adventist educational leaders, the program’s learning outcomes are strategically designed to equip students for effective research. “Participants are expected to develop a deep understanding of Ellen G. White’s writings about the prophetic gift and be able to use hermeneutics to interpret them in a way that is both firmly rooted in biblical principles and in line with what the author originally meant,” they said.

The curriculum further mandates a comprehensive grasp of the substance, key issues, and processes associated with Ellen White and the evolution of Adventist theology. “Graduates will contribute to the enhancement of local and regional capacities for documenting the history of God’s work in the church within their communities, ultimately qualifying them to teach specialized subjects, such as Ellen White and Adventist studies, at an undergraduate level.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.