Representatives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) met here last month for the final round of an official dialogue that began in 2010.
Distinctive doctrines of each denomination were addressed: for SDA, the heavenly sanctuary and pre-Advent judgment; for PCUSA, predestination and election. Respective understandings of the nature of the church rounded out the discussion.
The final report of the four-year conversation states: “The discovery and engagement of genuine mutually-edifying fellowship in Christ is the most important outcome of the dialogue.” The report lists differences of practice and doctrine as well as commonalities. It also suggests areas where each church can learn from the other with recommendations for possible future engagement and cooperation.
Battle Creek was selected as the venue for the Oct. 22-25 meeting because of the city’s role in the early history of Adventists. Previous meetings convened in Chicago (2010); at SDA world headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. (2011); and at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich. (2012).
The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) accepted the invitation to send a representative, with observer status.
Those taking part in the dialogue were:
Sheldon W. Sorge (co-chair), general minister, Pittsburgh Presbytery
David Cortés-Fuentes, pastor, Emmanuel Hispanic Presbyterian Church, Claremont, Calif.
Eileen Lindner, pastor, Tenafly Presbyterian Church, Tenafly, N.J.
Barbara Wheeler, president (retired) and director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education, Auburn Seminary, New York City
Staff: Robina Winbush and Carlos Malave, Louisville
William Johnsson (co-chair), editor, Adventist Review (retired), Silver Spring, Md.
Kenneth Denslow, assistant to the president, North American Division, Columbia, Md.
Denis Fortin, professor of Historical Theology, Andrews Seminary, Berrien Springs, Mich.
Teresa Reeve, associate professor of New Testament Contexts, Andrews Seminary, Berrien Springs, Mich.
Halvard Thomsen, assistant to the president, North American Division (retired), Apple Valley, Calif.
Douglas Bratt, pastor, Silver Spring Christian Reformed Church, Silver Spring, Md.
Discussions during the first three meetings focused on papers on Biblical Hermeneutics (2010); Worship and Sacraments, including participation in the education hour and Sabbath worship of the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Md., as well as participation in the education hour and Sunday worship at the St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Md., (2011); and Vocation and Discipleship (2012).