During 11 a.m. convocation on October 28, religion professor Jud Lake, Th.D., D.Min., walked from his seat on stage to shake the hand of smiling President Gordon Bietz, D.Min., and hand him a book. This seemingly Kodak moment marked the inauguration of the Institute for the Study of Ellen G. White and Adventist Heritage.
What was handed to Bietz was a copy of Lake’ s book, Ellen White Under Fire: Identifying the Mistakes of Her Critics. The book addresses the negative campaign against Ellen White and offers a better understanding of the prophetic gift, two things the institute will be focusing on.
Plans for the Future, Appreciation for the Past The night before convocation, an inaugural banquet was held in the Presidential Banquet Room. When discussing the future plans for the institute, Lake, who is to be director of the institute, mentioned four main goals: the promotion of Adventist Heritage tours for students, the launch of an annual lectureship series, the creation of a student writing contest with topics on church history, and finally, the continuation of research and studies on Ellen White apologetics.
“ [The institute] will bring renewal to the rich history we have as Seventh-day Adventists and the prophetic gift given to Ellen G. White,” says Lake. “ Its purpose is to promote studies on Ellen White and Adventist history.”
Other institute activities include reporting to the advisory board, publishing articles and books, holding study sessions in the E.G.W. Room in the library, and purchasing dissertations on Ellen White.
Twenty years in the making, the institute became a reality by the efforts of professor emeritus Jack Blanco, Th.D. Questioning why Southern didn’ t have an Ellen G. White research center, Blanco set out to go through the three-level process for a research center. The institute first began as an Adventist heritage collection and, with the addition of books and files, advanced to being a study center and later research center.
A Special Guest George Knight, professor emeritus of church history and Adventist heritage at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University, was the main speaker for both the inaugural banquet and convocation. While the banquet was formatted as more of a question-answer session with Knight, his convocation speech was more formal and addressed the question, “ Why Be Adventist?”
“ If we’ re even going to have an Adventist heritage center, we need to ask, ‘ Why Be an Adventist,’ ” began Knight. In the end, he explained we are Adventists because of the book of hope: Revelations. In it, there is a special message for the end of time that we must share. The M ain Objective One thing Knight and all of the religion professors reiterated was the importance of Adventist education.
“ Adventist education is at the very center of what this church is about,” says Knight. The Institute for the Study of Ellen G. White and Adventist Heritage has an objective of promoting Adventist education; it will encourage studies while affirming heritage and the prophetic gift of Ellen White.