Adventists and World Evangelical Fellowship Consider Dialogue

November 14, 2000 Silver Spring, Maryland, USA .... [Bettina Krause]

A proposed series of meetings between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) will aim to break down stereotypes and foster greater understanding between the two groups, says Dr. Bert B. Beach, director of inter-church relations for the Adventist Church worldwide.

The dialogues were proposed at a November 8 meeting at the Adventist Church world headquarters between church leaders and Dr. James Stamoolis, executive director of the WEF's Theological Commission.

"It's primarily about getting to know each other," says Beach, who began working on the idea with Stamoolis about a year ago. "We want to move beyond false stereotypes, to see where we agree and disagree, and to explore areas where we could mutually benefit by working together, such as on religious liberty initiatives."

If approved, the first meeting will take place at Glacier View, Colorado, September 9 to 14, 2001. The dialogue-conversation will take the form of a series of papers, produced by both the Adventist Church and the WEF's Theological Commission. The papers would be presented at a series of annual meetings over a period of four or five years.

The Theological Commission of the WEF, headed by Stamoolis, facilitates networking between evangelical theologians and produces scholarly and popular works on Christian theology. Its stated goal is to "encourage Christians around the world to develop and articulate a biblical theology which takes into account the needs and opportunities of local contexts within a global perspective."

Dr. George Reid, director of the Adventist Church's Biblical Research Institute, says the meetings are not about forging agreements on theological or doctrinal issues. "There is no interest in ecumenism as such on either side," says Reid. Instead the two groups will produce papers aimed at establishing a profile of each group, in order to foster better understanding and to remove stereotypes. Parties to the dialogue will also review areas of doctrinal agreement and disagreement and discuss hermeneutics, or biblical interpretation.

Stamoolis, of the WEF, says that he hopes the outcome of the talks will be a "clear understanding between the parties in the dialogue regarding each others' position. I would like to see respect and an honest agreement to disagree when, after examination and study, the two sides find themselves on opposite sides of an issue."

The WEF, which traces its history to 1846, is an organization bringing together evangelical Christian denominations and organizations from 111 countries, and serving a constituency of some 160 million Christians. -Copyright © 2000 Adventist News Network .

"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, 'Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:4