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7th Annual Ellen G. White Symposium

Date: April 5, 2011
Phone: 269-471-3209

The seventh annual Ellen G. White and Current Issues Symposium was held at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on Monday, March 28. Guest speakers included Dwight K. Nelson, senior pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church and James Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In addition, Jiri Moskla, professor of Old Testament exegesis and theology; Ranko Stefanovic, professor of Old Testament; and Gluder Quispie, a PhD candidate in Adventist Studies, also lectured. Each lecture was followed by a response and question and answer period.
Merlin Burt, director of the Center for Adventist Research, has been the primary organizer for this event since it began in 2004. “Since its inception, the purpose of the Ellen G. White and Current Issues Symposium is to break new ground in research on Ellen G. White and issues related to her from a scholarly, but respectful, context,” says Burt.
The symposium opened with Nelson’s presentation entitled, “The Gift.” Then Nix shared “The Story of Captain Norman,” a narrative about a man who was introduced to Seventh-day Adventism around the time of the 33rd session of the General Conference in February of 1899 in South Lancaster, Mass. After spending time with some of his new Adventist friends, and upon learning there was great financial need in the church, Norman pledged more than $400,000 (approximately $36.5 million today) of his inheritance money, a yacht and access to his ships for the work of the General Conference and other missions.
James Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate at
the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists,
presented, “The Story of Capt. Norman.” (Photo by
IMC photographer Esther Nooner)
The unexpected and generous donations caused quite a stir in the Church. As the story of Captain Norman continued to unfold, it took more than a few twists and turns. When after a few months, Captain Norman’s generous donation was never received by the church, some began to suspect he was a fraud. Not long after announcing his engagement following a rather whirlwind courtship, Norman claimed he had to take care of urgent business in New York. Borrowing money from his betrothed, he left the Battle Creek area in late April of 1899 never to be heard from again.

At the conclusion of the story of Captain Norman, Nix shared several “lessons to be learned,” including how a person reacts to disappointments and embarrassments in life demonstrates much about the individual. “God does not reveal everything to his messengers,” said Nix. “Ellen White knew nothing more regarding Captain Norman than that God had showed her or that church leaders had told her. The fact that God did not reveal Captain Norman’s true intentions to Mrs. White apparently caused some to question her prophetic calling…Apparently God wanted church leaders and members to learn important lessons from this situation that could not have been learned had Ellen White been shown ahead of time the Captain’s true character and intentions.”

Three more presentations followed Nix’s, including “Gift of Prophecy and the Church: A Biblical Perspective” by Ranko Stefanovic; “The Early Translation of Ellen G. White Books into Spanish” by Gluder Quispe; and “The Phenomenon of Prophecy and Role of Prophets in the Old Testament Compared with the Ministry of Ellen G. White” by Jiri Moskala.
The symposium was sponsored by Andrews University, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, the Department of Church History, the Center for Adventist Research and the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.
A Symposium Journal, which includes all the presentations, is available for purchase through the Center for Adventist Research. Past symposium presentations are also available. To order, call 269-471-3209 or email

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