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Hundreds of Adventist Churches Plan Easter Events this Coming Weekend
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Submitted: Apr 5, 2012
By Adventist Today News Team


There was a time when Seventh-day Adventists deliberately ignored Easter, claiming that it was a pagan celebration. “The name ‘Easter’ never appears in the Greek New Testament,” writes retired Biblical Research Institute director George Reid. “It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Eostre, the name of the goddess of spring.” But he is quick to admit that “to ask where and when practices originated is only partially valid [because] most of our practices in everyday life have antecedents in the ancient world, often from nonbelievers. … Even the 60-minute hour came from the pagans.” He states that “Sunday morning services for Easter” in Adventist churches can serve an evangelistic purpose.
 
“Many of our churches have Good Friday evening services and plan special music or messages for ‘Easter Sabbath’ … but perhaps we should be more conscious of Easter Sunday,” writes Tim Garrison, a pastor in the Southern California Conference, in the most recent issue of Best Practices, an official Email newsletter for pastors published by the North American Division of the General Conference. Nearly two thirds of Americans attend church on Easter points out Rajkumar Dixit, a pastor at New Hope Adventist Church near Baltimore, in the same issue. “This is a lost opportunity in reaching the people … who are searching for God.”
 
There is strong evidence that this kind of thinking is being adopted many places in the denomination. Adventist Today checked a random sample of local church web sites this week and found that at least one in four in North America have posted announcements of Easter events. The Aldergrove Adventist Church in British Columbia started last night with the first of five performances through Sunday of “The Choice … a dramatic musical for Easter.” Tickets must be obtained in advance to assure that large numbers are not turned away. An Easter sermon series began six weeks ago.
 
The La Mesa, California, church has formed an Easter Choir that will present the musical, “Come, Touch the Robe.” The Standifer Gap church in the Chattanooga area has scheduled an “Easter service on Friday night in the Fellowship Hall [with] tables in the shape of a cross … covered with grapes, crackers, bread, sandwich spread and sweet cakes. A cross with a crown of thorns in the middle of the room … singing … music … testimonies … washing each others’ feet … communion.”
 
The Hinsdale Seventh-day Adventist Church has scheduled “It All Happened in the City, an Easter musical celebration … at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Kelso-Longview (Washington) Adventist Church has been producing “Journey to the Cross [on] Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings” for 15 years, reports The Daily News. The story was published with a picture of Pastor Mike Speegle dressed like a Roman soldier helping to take an actor dressed like Christ away from the Garden of Gethsemane. Last year more than 4,000 people attended three events in Spokane, Cheney and Coeur D’Alene organized around Easter by four local churches in the Upper Columbia Conference. The Clifton Church in Cincinnati will begin its Easter weekend with a Passover Seder on Friday and end it with a service on Sunday.
 
Sharon Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon, a historically African-American congregation, has a “Special Resurrection Service” planned. The Napa (California) Community Seventh-day Adventist Church will have its Second Annual Family Easter Brunch on Sunday. “Bring your kids for a great egg hunt” and “bring 1 dozen plastic eggs with prize inside per child.” The Redlands church will present “The Voice” and “Easter play” from the perspective of John the Baptist, reports the Redlands Daily Facts.
 
Many of the churches on the campuses of Adventist colleges and universities stage major productions on Easter weekend attracting as many as 10,000 visitors in some cases. “SonRise Resurrection Pageant” will be presented on Sabbath by the Collegedale Church and Southern Adventist University, “an interactive, put-you-there-at-the-scene trip through Christ’s final days leading to His death and resurrection” with a cast of more than 500. This has happened each year since 1996. At Andrews University an “Easter Passion Play” has been presented each year since 2003 and “draws thousands,” reports the Lake Union Conference web site. The Resurrection Pageant organized by the Keene (Texas) Church on the campus of Southwestern Adventist University had 4,800 in attendance last year. Pastor Mickey Thurber is the pageant director which includes up to 250 actors.
 
Adventist congregations in Europe and Australia have similar events. Pine Rivers Church in the Brisbane area advertizes “The Easter Experience” as “the celebration of an amazing historical event when an innocent man gave his life to save mankind, but that wasn’t the end of the story.” An Easter event “Behold The Man” is planned this weekend at Heathcourt Seventh-day Adventist Church, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex in the United Kingdom.
 
Throughout the South Pacific Division many local conferences conduct Easter Camp Meetings. Despite inquiries, Adventist Today could not determine if this is a long-standing tradition or a more recent development. These are scheduled in Australia, New Zealand and in some of the island nations.
 
The Hope Channel, the official television outlet of the General Conference, has announced Easter programming this weekend. Three hours of live, call-in programming will be produced on Friday evening (April 6) and rebroadcast on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time each day. It will be available on DirectTV Channel 368 and Glorystar Channel 104, as well as on the Internet at www.HopeTV.org.
 
Adventists may not have embraced every aspect of the Easter tradition, but clearly the number has increased significantly who “are fearful we will be misunderstood … in parts of the world [where] the public is so oriented to Easter observance,” as Reid describes it on the BRI web site. “Adventists are believers in the resurrection.”
 

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Share your thoughts about this article:

K Curtis
2012-04-06 12:25 PM

Amen!

Truth Seeker
2012-04-07 5:40 PM

How long before we start observing Lent? How far from the ideal we have come. Reid usually is quite "kosher" and unless his remarks have been taken out of context I'm surprised.

Sunrise service anyone? It is not at all encouraging to see Babylon leaving its mark on the church. Its previous position of ignoring a pagan holiday served it well.

Nathan Schilt
2012-04-07 9:13 PM

It's great to see so many Adventist churches recognizing that Christ's crucifixion and resurrection are at the center of our message. The fact that we share the Passion with other Christians, including Catholics, should be a cause for celebration, not separation. Truth Seeker fails to recognize that the feasts celebrate in ancient Israel were derived from pagan events. 

I would hope that more Adventist churches could commemorate the resurrection on Sunday morning with glorious serivces of celebration rather than pretending that the resurrection occured on Sabbath. We could lead other Christians to find new meaning in the Sabbath rest by having a whole weekend of services, including contemplative services on Sabbath remembering the day Jesus spent in the tomb (fasting anyone?), and its significance. 

Ervin Taylor
2012-04-07 9:32 PM

"Truth Seeker" must be reading a differenct church history book. Lent and Easter as a "pagan holidays"? A number of the days of our week are named for "pagan dieties" and several of the months are named after "pagan" Roman Emperors. An Christmas is, of course, "Christ Mass." I guess "Truth Seeker" thinks that names and the source of customs hundreds of years old have the same meanings and message as they did in the dim past.

I share Nate's positive reaction to these changes in Adventist custom. The faster we can more away from our 19th century misdirected obsessions concerning so-called "Papist" customs, the less silly we will look to the rest of the Christain world.    

Ella M
2012-04-07 10:05 PM

  I think Truth Seeker has his priorities in the wrong places.  Which is more important spreading the Gospel or ignoring holidays we personally decide are "pagan."  Do you fold your hands and kneel for prayer?  That is a pagan custom.

Bruce Moyer
2012-04-08 2:42 PM

Interesting discussion.  The University Park Community Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North end of Portland, OR conducted Resurrection Celebration on Easter Sunday for a number of years in the mid-1980s with great interest and success.  This is the one day of the year many people in North America, and elsewhere, go to church.  Why shouldn't it be an Adventist Church?

Kevin Riley
2012-04-09 3:27 AM

Australian conferences have been holding camps at Easter for a long time.  It usually coincides with school holidays and is conveniently in early autumn when the heat is gone and the cold - at least in more northern conferences - has not yet arrived.  Whether or not there will be a celebration of Easter, mention of Easter, or a complete denial of Easter depends very much on which Conference is holding the camp and who the speaker is.  In the past, it was usual to continue with the usual SDA themes as if Easter did not exist.  With an increasing number of churches in most conferences now celebrating Easter, it is less usual for Easter to be ignored, but out of respect for those who still believe (erroneously, IMO) that Easter is pagan, it is still common for the program to focus on Christ's life and resurrection without actually mentioning the word 'Easter'.  I was disappointed when our conference moved its camp from late January to Easter, as our church had been running some good Easter programmes up until then.  Pastors are required to be at camp, so there was not much we could do about it.

Me Em
2012-04-09 1:50 PM

It is sad when members of the remnant church are concerned about looking "silly" to the rest of the world. Whatever happened to being peculiar people and being a people called out of darkness? If you were occupying your time being a steward and an evangelist you would have no need of a holiday to attract people to your church.  I am curious to know what you do when Easter and all the other holidays end.  I can almost be sure that you go back to your normal Laodicean life waiting for the next holiday.  Brethrens seek the Lords guidance by spending much time fasting, praying, studying God's Holy Words, and obey. 

If our customs look like "19th century misdirected obsessions" it must then bears resemblance to the original/true customs, much like a remnant.  These events/changes being introduced in the church are prophetic and it is a joy to see prophecies being fulfilled. 

Kevin Riley
2012-04-09 7:33 PM

If people study their Bibles, they will definitely be celebrating Easter and inviting all their neighbours to do likewise.  They will be relevant to their community because they are part of it and demonstrating that one can follow God without being so 'peculiar' that everyone would rather run a mile than associate with them.  The self-righteous may be comfortable in each others' presence (although surveys cast serious doubts on that), but most people aren't.  Sinners were attracted to Jesus because they felt that he was 'for' them, even if he reproved their sins, whereas most people know that their local SDA church members are merely 'against' them and have set themselves apart to avoid contamination.  We may believe they are mistaken, but we often give them very little evidence to reconsider their position.  If we are not relevant to the 21st century, then how right we may have been in the 19th century is meaningless.

Still, it was considerate of you to come here and point out how lacking we all are in wisdom and knowledge of God.  May you continue to find joy in the destruction of church members and the rest of 'the lost' who believe differently to you.

Ervin Taylor
2012-04-09 8:18 PM

What happened to being a "peculiar people"?  What happened was that some parts of the church decided to grow up and be useful to others in our communities where suffering peole are in real need in terms of medical attention, food, and a safe environment.  If someone wants to spend his or her time fasting, praying, and in Bible study, that certainly is his/her right.  I just hope that after doing that, those individuals do something helpful to others. 
 

Nathan Schilt
2012-04-11 2:01 AM

It's not a matter of being afraid to look silly. The call of Christ in a community of faith is always unique to that community in one or many ways. Following Christ will always make us peculiar to one degree or another. But it is unfortunate when peculiarity becomes a sort of self-validating end in itself.

Protestant churches during the Reformation used to ban organs, choirs, and other symbols that they associated with Catholicism, simply because they wanted to dissociate themselves from the Papacy. When I was young, Adventists didn't have crosses on their churches. Too Catholic... How silly! Today, I suspect even the most conservative fundamental Adventist would find those prohibitions narrow-minded.

Christ's issues with Judaism as a religious system did not lead Him to reject its rituals. Rather, He infused deeper meaning into those rituals, customs, and beliefs. The notion that the cultural and religious taboos of our past are divine prohibitions creates walls with no purpose other than to deprive ourselves of celebrating with other Christians the defining events of Christian history.

Stoney
2014-04-19 7:00 AM

An Easter Egg hunt? What's next , the easter bunny doing the sermon?  Perhaph they could hold a Sunrise service and all face the East. Sorry but yours truly will not be attending any of the above.If we have to comprimise that much to attract new people then we may as well join the mainstream churches and hold all our services on Sunday

Elaine Nelson
2014-04-19 11:31 AM

Great idea:  having all services on Sunday.  This is what the early Christians decided:  the first day was celebrated in honor of Christ's resurrection; without that event there would have been no Christian church.  Whether Adventists recognize the fact that the Resurrection was on the first day of the week, they originated from the early Christians who began this celebration even in the first century.

To ignore that event (timing can never be specific as  neither was Passover), is to simply refuse to honor the Christ of the Resurrection and continue with Judaism.  Adventists have been "sold" the idea that Easter is pagan, but the Resurrection is NOT pagan.  If you wish to practice paganism, don't confuse it with Christianity.


earl calahan
2014-04-20 12:22 AM

The motivation is the issue, not that some non Christian idea utilized the same day.
Pagans have accounted for all of the seven days.

Anonymous



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