Dear Pastors,

Authentic Adventism by William G. Johnson was one of the best books I have read recently. It’s provocative, honest and profoundly inspiring.

I’ve asked permission from the publisher to share an excerpt from pages 39-40 to whet your appetite.

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“Indian summer”Excerpt from Authentic Adventism by William G. Johnson. Pages 39-40.

In regions that experience a harsh winter, the autumn sometimes brings a pleasant surprise. The days are getting shorter, the wind colder, the time of dark, of ice and snow, is coming. But then nature abruptly changes the signals. The wind turns warm, the air dry, the sky blue. It’s as though the balmy days of summer had suddenly returned.

But not for long. After a few days of warmth, winters breath blows hard. Everyone grits their teeth at the prospect of the dark, cold months just ahead.

In North America the phenomenon is known as “Indian Summer.” Other continents experience similar occurrences, which they call by different names.

I’m reading news of my church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I read that for the year 2016 the total tithe reported for the North American Division was $1,002,276,749. More than a billion dollars. The largest total ever.I rejoice at the generosity and faithfulness of God’s people. But then I hear a whisper: Indian Summer!

Recently I read a book that sent chills up my spine. That was The Church That Was: How The Church of England Lost the English People. (London: Bloomsbury Centennial, 2016).

It’s a brutally honest examination of what caused the Church of England to lose more than half its members in the space of a decade or two. The book was written in pain: it’s authors, Andrew Brown and Linda Woodhead, were employed by the Church of England.

In the 1990s leaders of the church could feel pretty pleased with the way things were going. The Church of England enjoyed status as a respected plank in British society. It’s finances were strong. It could boast a network of members of the Anglican Communion among countries of the former British Empire.

Leaders of the church jockeyed for position and played theological games. They were in Indian Summer and didn’t realize it. The grand edifice, seemingly so strong, was about to collapse like a house of cards.

What brought it down? The issue of women in ministry —at first, the issue of ordination of women as parish priest, than of women bishops.

The Church of England set up study committee after study committee, delaying decision endlessly.

Anglican women grew tired of the ecclesiastical humbug. At the very time when British society was opening its doors to new roles for women in education, church leaders were stuck in the past. They woke up too late. The talented women who all along had kept the church functioning —not just as priest but in teaching, healing, and other ministries—had left, never to return.

The picture today is a sad one: Fewer than 2 percent of the English are paying members of the church. Only one person in ten is baptized in the national church, and only one-third of the English have a church funeral.

When I read That Was the Church That Was, my Adventist blood ran cold. Could it happen to us? Are we in Indian summer?

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Pastor, you are in the fire lane. The everyday shaping of the church is directly related with the ministries you lead.

The decisions you make and the direction you choose are shaping the Seventh-day Adventist Church beyond what the entire organizational leadership may say or chose to do, including those of us at the local level.

Our main role is to support you and equip you for ministry—to take care of the intricacies of the business side of our church so you can champion the most important part of our church: Ministry.

I believe in pastoral ministry, the amazing power of the Holy Spirit and the soon coming of Jesus. Keep faithful to your calling.

If you’re interested in the book, let me know, I’ll see about getting you a copy. Praying for you, pastor.

Carlos A. Camacho, Executive Secretary

Nevada-Utah Conference

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