Since hearing of the February 15 meeting of our brethren with some SDA leaders, I was reminded of some notable discussions that occurred some 30 years ago in the USA. At that time, Elder Robert H. Pierson, the then most recently retired SDA General Conference President, approached our General Conference leadership for talks. I understand Elder Pierson had a burden to see the various groups of ‘separated’ Adventists reconciled to 'the church'.
Together with a like-minded SDA minister and elder, Elder Pierson met with our General Conference president, Brother Francisco Devai and some of our other leading brethren for a few days of discussions. Reports have it that the meetings were both encouraging and profitable, however I was informed that they broke down over one main issue:
How do we keep the Sabbath?
At the time, Christians in communist lands were facing many trials for their faith. The requirement by authorities that all children must attend public school on Saturday (Sabbath) was a ajor stumbling block for many Adventists. While the mainline SDA church in many communist lands permitted members to send children to the public school on Sabbath, members of the SDA Reform Movement did not believe they could do this and remain consistent with keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Sadly, Elder Pierson's company responded to this dilemma by adopting the position that we cannot judge our brethren in those persecuted lands–we have to leave them to make their own decisions. We would agree with him that as individual Christians we should all be left free to make our own decisions. However, we also need to keep in mind that the Church does have a responsibility for its membership, to bring to account those who persist in open sin. This duty is neglected only at the peril of the Church as a whole.
It is our sincere desire and prayer that should the Lord open the way for future discussions with the Seventh-Day Adventist leadership they will result in a more promising outcome than those of former years.