New Leaders Take the ATS Helm
The ATS constitution provides a foundation for the Society’s leadership roles and transitions. Both the president and president-elect serve a two-year term. A leadership transition recently took place in ATS leadership when John Reeve concluded his term as president. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, both Reeve and Rahel Wells served an extended term in their positions.
During the 2021 annual meeting, Wells transitioned from president-elect to president. Eike Mueller was elected as president-elect. Both will serve in these roles for two years.
Rahel Wells, President
Wells is an associate professor of Biblical Studies at Andrews University and holds graduate degrees in in religion and biology, and a Ph.D. from Wheaton College, researching the Old Testament portrayal of God’s response to the suffering of animals.
Although Wells now teaches in the religion department at Andrews University, as an undergraduate student, her career interests were focused elsewhere. “I thought I was going to go into biology,” says Wells. “Science was always one of my favorite subjects in school and I loved animals.”
Attending faith and science conferences as a child made an impression on Wells that carried into adulthood. “I wanted to be a scientist who was faithful to God's Word and doing good science at the same time,” says Wells. “After completing my undergraduate degree, I realized that if I wanted to work for the church, I also needed a theology background. I enrolled in a master’s in religion with an emphasis on the Old Testament.”
When she finished her master’s in religion, Wells decided to do a master’s in biology to prepare for a doctoral program. Amidst personnel changes at Andrews University where she was studying, Wells was asked to teach Hebrew classes.
“I had taken three or four years of Hebrew at that point, so I agreed to teach two classes that year,” says Wells. “I found myself spending more time preparing for class than I was on the research for my master’s program.”
When she agreed to teach a second year, Wells began to question her educational plans. “I began asking God what He was trying to tell me,” says Wells. “At this point I was applying to doctoral programs and decided to apply to doctoral programs in both Old Testament and biology and that will decide it.”
When she was accepted to programs in both theology and biology, Wells decided to put things on hold, continue teaching Hebrew, and finish her masters. “When I was ready to continue my studies, Wheaton College liked the fact that I had a biology background and they were supportive of interdisciplinary endeavors,” says Wells. “You expect this flash from the sky, but I never got that. Instead, God confirmed by decision over time through gentle nudges and confirmations over time. Although I still have a great love for biology and science, I felt like theology fit both my passions and my personality better.”
Wells stays current with scientific research and how science and faith complement each other. “I speak at various science and religion classes, classes in the biology department classes, in the seminary on science and faith,” says Wells. “I am also involved on conferences on science and faith. I wouldn’t be able to do if I didn't have a background in biology.”
Wells is actively involved in her local church where she serves as an elder and works with the Pathfinder club. “I love my local church and ministry within the local context,” says Wells. “I’ve been involved in Pathfinders ever since I was a child. I love building relationships with people, networking, and building community. I find much joy in developing long-term relationships with young people”
Wells was exposed to the Adventist Theological Society as a child. “I attended the very first ATS meeting with my parents,” says Wells. “I listened as they discussed the constitution and other items and remember thinking that this was a momentous occasion. After that, we attended ATS meetings, and I watched it evolve.” As an adult, Wells became a member and eventually was voted into leadership.
“I love ATS. I very much value what they do,” says Wells. “When I become president-elect, I learned so much more about ATS that I didn’t know before,” says Wells. “ATS is a free resource for the church, and we need to share it with others.”
As president, Wells’ vision for the future is ambitious, but focused. “I believe we need to make ATS more visible to younger scholars and encourage them to become involved,” says Wells. “I also want to reach out to pastors and lay members. We have so many resources they can use.”
Those resources are another area that Wells would like to expand. “We are continuing the program, Life With God, which developed a following during the previous programming season,” says Wells. “We are growing our social media and our profile which will help others learn about ATS.”
The last two years have made communication with ATS chapters more challenging. “In the past, ATS leaders and members visited different chapters, but that became limited in 2020 and 2021. I want to get a better sense of where our chapter are at and how to better support them,” says Wells. “I’d also like to find a way to provide more continuity and connection among the chapters, so they aren’t don’t feel they are alone. I’d also like to see ATS chapters established on Adventist college and university campuses.”
Eike Mueller, President-elect
Eike Mueller had an international childhood growing up in both Europe and the United States. He began his undergraduate studies at Bogenhofen Seminary, St. Peter am Hart, Austria and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology at Andrews University. He continued his graduate studies at Andrews University where he completed his Master of Divinity.
His pastoral experience includes serving as a youth pastor in Colorado, as a pastor in a four-church district and a three-church-plant district in Heilbronn, Germany.
While completing his Doctor of Theology in Biblical Studies at Andrews University, Mueller taught as an adjunct instructor for Biblical Studies. He was called to serve at the Adventist Institute for Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in Silang, Philippines where he’s held the positions of Assistant and Associate Professor for New Testament. He’s currently the Assistant Seminary Dean at AIIAS.
During his undergraduate studies at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tennessee, Mueller was exposed to ATS through the on-campus society at the University. “What I have appreciated about ATS is the scholarly community of people really searching Scripture for answers and making scripture the priority,” says Mueller. “A Bible-centered approach affects how you see the social world and how you act in the social norm but based on Scripture. During my doctoral studies, I engaged with ATS by participating in meetings and presenting posters. I enjoyed the community of scholars, the very vivid and lively discussions that often just take the whole day.”
Mueller believes that community is a place where scholars can come together, discuss issues, and bring balance amid a variety of views. “The community as a whole looks at and studies Scripture and looks for the ideal way to respond to crisis in the church, crisis in the world, and ideals that we should embrace as a community of believers,” says Mueller.
Mueller hadn’t planned to take the path of scholarly studies, but over time he came to the realization that he was interested. “I’ve always said there were enough doctorates in the family to go around for everyone, says Mueller. “I thought there was no need for me to follow that direction. I loved being a pastor, and there are days that I wish that I was still ministering in the local church. But I found that although I enjoyed the variety of pastoring in a local church, I also enjoyed the research aspect of preparing deeply for a sermon.”
His local conference recognized those abilities and gave him assignments that were related to research. “My internal realization that I enjoyed the scholarly research grew as I prepared my sermons and then preached it. Eventually, I transitioned from pastoral ministry to teaching and research,” says Mueller.
One of the aspects that Mueller appreciates about ATS are the international voices it brings to scholarship. “ATS has always wanted to be international and has reached out and has many chapters in different parts of the world,” says Mueller. “As with anything, we have room to grow and finesse the work of the organization. “Living in Southeast Asia for eight years, I think I have learned to respect and understand there’s more than one way to view research and the value in that. We need to listen to voices that aren’t just the typical voices and enable and give credit to these people.”
Bringing in other voices can expand understanding. “Reading topics from a different perspective can enrich the Western understanding. I think for that, you often need personal connections,” says Mueller. “That’s one of the reasons I accepted this appointment. My networking with students at AIIAS and my colleagues who I know in this part of the world is an example of those personal connections.”
These international voices will be a part of the 2022 ATS annual meeting. “We have a large representation of people who have submitted abstracts for the upcoming meetings which will enrich that worldwide perspective.”
Finding ways to include people from around the world during the annual gathering is another aspect that weighs heavy on Mueller. “A big hurdle for people is the travel cost and sometimes even the visa. I have 50 percent of my students apply for a visa to go to the professional meetings and to join these scholarly communities and discussions,” says Mueller. “And they are rejected by the U. S. government for a variety of reasons. We realize that there are voices that aren’t being heard because of politics. We can use technology and give opportunity for people who either don’t have the finances or experience visa issues to participate.”
A second area that Mueller hopes to impact is that of scholarly community. “I really hope that we can foster a sense of scholarly community, more so as a collective body, even as scholars. So often everybody kind of works in their own corner,” says Mueller. “How can we be more of a group that represents each other, stands for each other, and join each other as a voice of sharing different views at times?”
As this new leadership begins working in their designated roles, remember them in your prayers.
Life With God Continue with New Seasons
Following a successful run, Life with God will continue with new seasons sponsored by the Adventist Theological Society (ATS). Viewers provided positive feedback during Seasons 1 and 2 as they watched discussions on “God Is Love” and a “God Is Presence.”
“Our guests during these seasons were engaged and enjoyed participating,” says Adelina Alexe, host and project coordinator. “The casual conversation format was perfect for Bible scholars to interact with church members on pertinent topics.”
During Seasons 3 and 4, the topics will focus on “God Is Power” and “God Is Beauty.” Another aspect will be a broader base of participants. “We are expanding internationally with both guests and students who are participating in the conversations,” says Alexe. “Currently we have participants scheduled from Asia, South America, and North America. We are actively seeking guests who are experts in each of the featured discussion topics.”
While the shows are a conversation and not a debate, Alexe believes it is needful to dig deeper in the topics that are being featured. “In some ways our brains need to readjust how we think about things,” says Alexe. “For instance, when we talk about power, one of the questions we need to ask is whether power is truly power if it is used negatively.”
Future themes include “God Is Freedom,” “God Is Justice,” and “God Is Truth.” To access the past and future seasons, visit the ATS YouTube channel. If you haven’t subscribed to the channel, be sure to click the red subscribe button.
“Anyone who appreciates this program can participate in it by sharing it with others,” says Alexe.
ATS News Shorts
ATS Exhibits at Two Events
The Adventist Theological Society had a presence at the 61st General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri and will be at the 2022 Called Pastor’s Family Convention hosted by the North American Division Ministerial Department in Lexington, Kentucky.
Although physical exhibits weren’t onsite in St. Louis, a full slate of virtual exhibits were accessible online. To enter the exhibit hall, you need to register and login at https://exhibithall.gcsession.org/. The virtual exhibit hall is open until July 10, 2022.
During the 2022 Called Pastors and Famillies Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, visitors learned more about the Adventist Theological Society at the ATS booth in the exhibit hall. This was a prime opportunity for pastors to learn more about ATS and how it can enhance their ministry.
ATS members who taught seminars at the Called Conference include S. Joseph Kidder, Michael Campbell, Keith Bowman, Bill Cork, Jiří Moskala, John Peckham, David Williams, Japhet De Oliviera, Shawn Boonstra, Anthony Kent, Ranko Stefanovic, Jose Briones, Angel Rodriguez, Carl Cosaert, Elias Brasil De Souza, Derek Morris, and Chantal Klingbeil.
Campbell Moves to NAD Headquarters
Michael Campbell has been named Director of NAD Archives, Statistics & Research of the North American Division. He will take up his duties following the close of the 2021-2022 academic year.
His most recent position was as professor of religion at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. He also served as an associate professor of Historical/Theological Studies, editor for Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary, and missionary, training pastors at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies located in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.
As an ordained minister, Campbell’s pastoral ministry included lead pastor of Wichita South Seventh-day Adventist Church, and serving as a volunteer police chaplain at Wichita, Kansas.
Campbell’s work as a published author and as an editor is extensive. He’s written multiple peer-reviewed journal articles. His recent books include Pocket Dictionary for Understanding Adventism (Pacific Press, 2020). Some of his other recent books include 1919: The Untold Story of Adventism’s Struggle with Fundamentalism (2019), and The Ellen White Pocket Dictionary (2018) He’s served as assistant editor of The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Review and Herald, 2013), and editor of The Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary (2015-2018). He is the founding editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Seventh-day Adventism. He co-hosts with Buster Swoopes Jr., the “Sabbath School Rescue Podcast” and the “Adventist Pilgrimage” podcast with ATS member Gregory Howell. Both podcasts are available online (See links in the ATS Members on Podcasts in this issue.)
Andrews Bible Commentary
A ten-year project has culminated in the publishing of the Andrews Bible Commentary. The two-volume commentary involved more than 60 Adventist Bible scholars worldwide. Several ATS members provided editorial oversight. Ángel Manuel Rodriguez was the general editor, former director of the General Conference Biblical Research Institute. Associate editors included Carl P. Cosaert, Dean of the School of Theology and professor of Biblical Studies at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington; and Gerald A. Klingbeil, associate editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines and research professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. https://bit.ly/3wVkgbE
Cyprus Hears About Creation and Intelligent Design
“Who is behind intelligent design?” is the question that drew Adventists from different parts of Cyprus to Nicosia. ATS member Dr. Timothy Standish, senior scientist, Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) shared scientific findings which affirmed that all created things have a complexity and precision in design. The program was coordinated by Dr. Bruno Barbosa, a former atheist scientist, who now works as a Christian missionary in Cyprus. https://adventist.news/news/scientists-on-a-mission
ATS Members in Print
Richard Davidson’s “Sanctuary 101” provides a concise overview of why the sanctuary doctrine is foundational to our beliefs and the hope it provides in today’s world. https://www.adventistworld.org/sanctuary-101/
Living life in a sin-filled world brings heartache and sadness. The daily accounts of war, violence, and evil can be enough to drive even the most devout to despair. In “Beyond Numb Hands and Hearts,” Gerald Klingbeil explores how joy can be found in “hanging on to Jesus in the midst of personal pain and loss.” https://www.adventistworld.org/beyond-numb-hands-and-hearts/
In “A Matter of Trust,” Frank Hasel explores the idea of prayer being not about us, but rather about God. He reminds us that our prayers should be God-centered, that He loves to provide for us, and that we are safe in His love. “If you prayed for a thousand years, your prayers would not make you any more acceptable to God than when you first prayed,” writes Hasel. https://www.adventistworld.org/a-matter-of-trust/
In “Get Ahead,” Lael Caesar reminds us of two stories of biblical patriarchs who attempted to work things out using their own solutions, rather than waiting on God’s perfect plan. How often do we waste time through our own efforts, instead of resting in the assurance that God is in control? https://adventistreview.org/magazine-article/get-ahead/
In his article, “The Prayers of the Lord’s Messenger” Merlin D. Burt provides the reader with a glimpse of how important prayer was to Ellen G. White, beginning with gathering her courage to pray publicly as a teenager and the transforming experience it was for her. Prayer was a reality in her life, and she openly and freely wrote about what it meant to her. https://www.adventistworld.org/the-prayers-of-the-lords-messenger/
The death of a pop culture star found Shawn Boonstra reflecting on how people often only live a fraction of their lives. In “Meditation on a Dead Star,” Boonstra asks the question of how we are using our most valuable resource—time—both on weekdays, and especially during the 24-hour period of the Sabbath. “But maybe, by claiming the gift of the Sabbath, I can arrive at the finish line having actually lived,” writes Boonstra. https://adventistreview.org/commentary/meditation-on-a-dead-star-2/
ATS Members in Video
Michael Younker recalls the contributions of Uriah Smith in This Week in Adventist History. https://adventist.news/videos/ann-english/this-week-in-adventist-history-march-11-2022
Viewers of the It Is Written Sabbath School program can listen to Dr. Philip Samaan, Dr. Stephen Bauer, Dr. Alan Parker, and Dr. Greg King as they join host Eric Flickinger to provide additional insights to the weekly Adult Sabbath School lessons. https://itiswritten.tv/sabbath-school
ATS Members Are Publishing Books
Understanding the Sanctuary by Mark Finley helps the reader discover the importance of confession, the purpose of the intercessor, the huge cost of sin, and much more. Finley discusses the rituals and elements of the sanctuary and its associate services, feasts, and festivals. https://bit.ly/3t3lnF3
In his most recent book, 1922 The Rise of Adventist Fundamentalism, Michael W. Campbell explores the tumultuous events following the 1919 Bible Conference. One hundred years later, the issues are still relevant to the denomination today. https://adventistbookcenter.com/1922-the-rise-of-adventist-fundamentalism.html
Sexuality: Contemporary Issues from a Biblical Perspective is a collaborative effort of Seventh-day Adventist scholars and theologians worldwide.
The volume is a sequel to Marriage: Biblical and Theological Aspects and the second of three volumes on sexuality, marriage, and family. This volume focuses on sexuality and addresses contemporary topics such as cohabitation, polygamy, sexual addiction, cybersex, robotic sex, rape, female genital mutilation, child sexual abuse, and queer theology and practice.
Elias Brasil de Souza and Ekkehardt Mueller served as the editors, with Gerhard Pfandl as one of the associate editors, and Frank M. Hasel as consulting editor. Among the list of contributing authors are ATS members Boubakar Sanou, Alberto R. Timm, Ekkehardt Mueller, Richard M. Davidson, Gerhard Pfandl, Ron du Preez, Dragoslava Santrac, Aleksandar Santrac, Stephen Bauer, Larry Lichtenwalter, and Elias Brasil de Souza.
The book is available in print and as an e-book. https://amzn.to/3z4fHhO
Tom Shepherd explores what it means to be “unmistakably Christian” as he delves into lessons found in 1st and 2nd Peter in his book, Unmistakably Christian—Surprising Lessons from 1 and 2 Peter. You can download a free chapter at https://adventistbookcenter.com/amfile/file/download/file/1751/product/10165/.
To order a print copy or eBook, click here for the Adventist Book Center. https://adventistbookcenter.com/unmistakably-christian.html
ATS Members Speaking Out On Podcasts
This episode of Mission|Lab with Shawn Brace features the story of Lori Day who left behind atheism to find hope in God’s grace. She and her husband Weston made an unexpected move from Texas to Maine to become a part of God’s mission. https://missionlab.podbean.com/e/episode-111-a-new-day-from-texas-to-maine-on-mission-with-god/
Also available on other podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible, and more.
Greg Howell and Michael Campbell cover diverse topics in their podcast Adventist Pilgrimage. The three latest episodes explore:
During an interview with Calvin Rock, Howell and Campbell explore the Black Adventist experience. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/interview-with-calvin-rock/id1558388185?i=1000555910360
In “Vaccines” Howell and Campbell review Adventist vaccine history and how World War I played a role in Adventist attitudes. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/vaccines/id1558388185?i=1000552570512
Howell and Campbell tackle “The Enigma of Last Generation Theology” and its origins in this podcast. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-enigma-of-last-generation-theology/id1558388185?i=1000559242006
Adventist Pilgrimage is also available on podcast platforms such as Spotify, Player FM, Podcast Guru, Google Podcasts, Podbay.fm, and more.
Sabbath School Rescue is a weekly podcast with Michael W. Campbell and Buster Swoopes, Jr. Join their lively dialogue for a digging deeper experience into the weekly Sabbath School lesson. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sabbath-school-rescue/id1499009364
From the Archives
Rereading past articles helps refresh our thoughts on topics, provides insights on ideas we may have missed during our initial read, and can introduce us to articles or ideas previously overlooked. From the Archives recalls topics written by ATS members that have relevant material for living today.
In “Creation, a Pillar of the Faith” Ariel Roth outlines why Creation is the most fundamental belief for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1984/08/creation-a-pillar-of-the-faith
In his article, “‘The books were opened’: A Survey of the Pre-Advent Judgement,” Gerhard Pfandl, describes how the pre-advent judgement is good news for those who’ve accepted Christ as their personal Saviour. https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/2014/08/pre-advent-judgment
In “A Matter of Justice,” Ángel Manuel Rodríguez outlines how God’s live and justly condemn the rebellious and justly save the repentant. https://www.adventistworld.org/a-matter-of-justice-march-2017-bible-questions-answered/