December 29, 2014

Your 10 Favorite Stories in 2014

, news editor, Adventist Review

Here’s a look back at the 10 most popular stories that were published on the Adventist Review’s website in 2014.

The stories are ranked by the number of reader views and listed in descending order, with No. 1 being the most popular. Click on the headline (in blue) to read the full story.

10. Egypt May Classify Adventist Church as Non-Christian

Seventh-day Adventist Church officials in Egypt sought prayers as they reached out to the government and local media to stop a bill that would classify the Adventist Church as a non-Christian denomination, according to this article published on Nov. 22.

The problem was that Article 112 of a proposed new civil law for non-Muslim minorities, written by Egypt’s Christian minority without Adventist participation, would put the Adventist Church in the category of non-Christian religious denominations.

“I am saddened by the fact that some churches consider us as a non-Christian denomination while the government recognizes us as Christians and gives us our full freedom to worship,” said Johnny N. Salib, assistant secretary of the denomination’s Egypt-Sudan Field.

As of the end of 2014, the issue remains unresolved.

The view of an Adventist church in Egypt's capital, Cairo. Credit: Wikicommons

9. Mark Finley Offers 5 Steps for Resolving Disunity on Women’s Ordination

Women’s ordination proved to be a major theme for the Adventist Church in 2014, and Mark Finley, evangelist, assistant to the General Conference president, and editor-at-large for Adventist Review, weighed in by offering church leaders a five-step plan to tackle the question and to unify the Seventh-day Adventist Church after a final decision is made.

Finley presented the plan on Oct. 10 to delegates of the Annual Council, a major church business meeting, according to this article published on Oct. 12. He compiled the steps while engaged in personal Bible study of how early Christian leaders resolved difficulties.

“I believe God is bigger and greater than this [question of women’s ordination] and He can facilitate His ultimate purposes, which are mission and saving the world,” Finley said.

Mark Finley speaking at the Annual Council on Oct. 10. Photo: ANN

8. Theology of Ordination: Position No. 1

In the interest of providing a better understanding of the three positions on women’s ordination that emerged from a two-year study by the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, the Adventist Review published the notes that three Adventist theologians used to give 20-minute presentations of each position to the church delegates of the Annual Council on Oct. 14.

The presentation of Position No. 1 by Clinton Wahlen, associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, generated a huge number of readers — and a near-record 235 comments after the article.

Clinton Wahlen presenting to the Annual Council on Oct. 14. Photo: ANN

7. 28 Fundamental Beliefs Get an Update

Adventist leaders tentatively approved proposed revisions of the church’s core statements of its fundamental beliefs after two days of discussions at the Annual Council, according to this Oct. 14 article.

The revisions are a milestone in the history of the Fundamental Beliefs, which numbered 27 when they were first drafted in 1980. With the exception of the addition of a 28th belief (“Growing in Christ, No. 11) in 2005, they have remained untouched until now.

None of the revisions change any of the fundamental beliefs, and many simply update and tighten the text, said Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church.

The proposed changes will be forwarded to the General Conference session for a final discussion and vote by the world church in July 2015.

Ella Simmons, vice president of the General Conference, chairing an Annual Council discussion of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs on Oct. 12. Photo: ANN

6. One Adventist Pastor and One Elder Killed in 2 Days

A pastor and an elder were killed in armed ambushes in Guatemala and the Philippines in October, highlighting the danger that some church workers face in restive regions of the world.

Masked assailants attacked pastor Noe Gonzalez, 54, and his wife as they rode home on a motorcycle following evangelistic meetings that he had led in the town of Hierbabuena in east Guatemala on Oct. 23. Gonzalez was shot four times and his wife, Oralia, was struck on the head and left for dead. Oralia was treated at a hospital and released hours later.

A day earlier, masked gunmen opened fire on six people preparing to board a vehicle in a village in the Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, killing church elder Ramil Ansong, 29, and his 50-year-old father, Jose.

No arrests have been reported in either attack.

Gonzalez was the fourth Adventist pastor to be killed in Guatemala in the past 33 years.

Gonzalez's funeral in Jalapa, Guatemala, on Oct. 25. Photo: Guatemala Union

5. Previously Unknown Photo of Ellen White Found

A previously unknown photograph of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White surfaced among the aging documents of an Adventist physician who died in 1966, creating a stir in Adventist circles this fall.

The 1905 photo—which shows White walking outdoors with her son William and his wife, May—was the first new picture of White to turn up in decades, and its discovery was especially thrilling for White scholars because it provided a rare glimpse into her everyday life.

“I’ve never seen her in this way before,” said James R. Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate, a church institution that oversees White’s writings. “This particular photo is significant because it is candid. You feel like you could step up to her and say, ‘It’s nice to see you.’”

Only about 50 photos of White are known to exist, and most of them were taken in a studio or other formal setting. In the new photo, White, 77, is seen walking near a pitched tent as she apparently attends the General Conference session in Takoma Park, Maryland, in May 1905.

Ellen White in a photo courtesy of Jacqueline Leslie Trott-Bally via Ron Graybill

4. Pastor Abducted During Church Service in East Ukraine

An Adventist pastor went missing after being seized by gunmen during a communion service on Sept. 27 at a church in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine. The Sept. 29 article resulted in an outpouring of prayers and worried letters from Adventist Review readers.

The prayers were answered when the pastor, Sergei Litovchenko, was released unharmed after 20 days, the Adventist Review reported later.

3. She Missed Flight 17 Because of the Sabbath

A Dutch Adventist woman who nearly flew on the Malaysia Airlines jet that was shot down over Ukraine said in an Adventist Review interview published on July 25 that she changed her ticket at the last minute because she didn’t wish to travel on the Sabbath.

Frieda Souhuwat-Tomasoa, 67, had booked a ticket on the July 17 flight to make an emergency visit to Ambon, Indonesia, where a major conference that she was organizing was on the brink of collapse.

But three days before the flight, Souhuwat-Tomasoa realized during morning worship with her husband, Max, that her itinerary meant that she would end up traveling on Sabbath, July 19, to reach her destination.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed by a missile as it flew over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on a flight from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board the plane died.

“When I heard about the accident, I cried during my phone call with Max and said to him, ‘God is good and great to His children,’” Souhuwat-Tomasoa said. “His Spirit spoke to me during our devotional on Monday morning and told me, ‘If you take this route, you will travel on the Sabbath. Don’t.’"

Frieda Souhuwat-Tomasoa

2. Wilson Says Satan Trying to Destroy Adventist Church

Adventist Church leader Ted N.C. Wilson, speaking in an Oct. 11 sermon that served as his annual world pastoral address, said that Satan was using every means at his disposal to try to destroy the Adventist Church and neutralize its mission of proclaiming Jesus’ soon coming.

Wilson said the devil’s tactics include ecumenism, charismatic worship approaches, and attacks on biblical prophetic understanding, and he said he had felt the blows personally the death of a prematurely born grandson and the discovery that two other grandsons suffer serious health problems.

But he urged the listening church leaders of the Annual Council to join him in submitting to God and taking a unified stand for the distinctive, biblical beliefs of the Adventist Church, regardless of whether the teachings might be derided as unpopular or politically incorrect.

“In these perilous closing scenes of Earth’s history, remember that the devil is attempting to neutralize anything and everything we do — even at this Annual Council,” Wilson said. “Through God’s power, let us be entirely respectful, Christ-like, and loving in our discussions and exchanges during this Annual Council on whatever topic we may speak.”

The transcript of Wilson’s sermon, titled, “God’s Prophetic Movement, Message, and Mission and Their Attempted Neutralization by the Devil,” also proved popular among Adventist Review readers, gaining almost as many views as the news article.

Ted N.C. Wilson preaching at the Annual Council meeting on Oct. 11. Photo: ANN

1. Video of Adventist Father Singing to Dying Son Goes Viral

A poignant YouTube video of an Adventist song leader from Loma Linda University singing a farewell lullaby to his dying infant son just days after his wife died went viral in November—and the Adventist Review’s website saw a surge in traffic as well.

Tens of thousands of people read the article about how Chris Picco tenderly sang on his guitar at the bedside of his 4-day-old son, Lennon James, on Nov. 11, hours before the boy died in his father’s arms.

Doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section to deliver the boy after Ashley Picco, 30, died in her sleep on Nov. 8. The boy was born 16 weeks premature.

Thousands of people also read a follow-up story about a memorial service where Chris Picco refused to blame God and said he hoped to create something good from the tragedy.

“I know that God did not compose this. God had nothing to do with this,” Chris said at the Loma Linda University Church. “But I can see Him, tears streaming down His face, beginning to compose one note at a time [of] this most beautiful melody that anyone’s ever heard. And I don’t know what that sounds like, but that’s the God that I believe in.”

Chris Picco kissing his son, Lennon James. Photo: Ashley Picco Memorial Fund

Related links

1. "Video of Adventist Father Singing to Dying Son Goes Viral," Nov. 13

2. "Wilson Says Satan Trying to Destroy Adventist Church," Oct. 11

3. "She Missed Flight 17 Because of the Sabbath," July 25

4. "Pastor Abducted During Church Service in East Ukraine," Sept. 29

5. "Previously Unknown Photo of Ellen White Found," Oct. 8

6. "One Adventist Pastor and One Elder Killed in 2 Days," Oct. 27

7. "28 Fundamental Beliefs Get an Update," Oct. 14

8. "Theology of Ordination: Position No. 1," Oct. 23

9. "Mark Finley Offers 5 Steps for Resolving Disunity on Women’s Ordination," Oct. 12

10. "Egypt May Classify Adventist Church as Non-Christian," Nov. 22

See also

"7 Biggest Stories That Shaped the Adventist Church in 2014"

"Their Faith Still Speaks: Notable Adventist Deaths in 2014"

"Odd Adventist News in 2014"