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Singing, prayer mark church’s 150th anniversary in headquarters ceremony

Employees, administrators sing from original hymnal; Black’s powerful prayer

Singing, prayer mark church’s 150th anniversary in headquarters ceremony

Jim Nix, at the podium, director of the Ellen G. White Estate, leads in singing yesterday at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The brief afternoon ceremony was held at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. [photos by Ansel Oliver]

Employees of the Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters building sang old, “progressive” hymns and heard remarks from top church leaders in a brief afternoon ceremony yesterday that marked the 150th anniversary of the denomination.

It was on May 21, 1863, that a group of 20 delegates officially established the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Yesterday, Jim Nix, director of the estate of church co-founder Ellen G. White, led out in singing two hymns – “Long Upon the Mountains” and “O Brother, Be Faithful” – from the original 1861 hymnal, the songbook version used by church founders at their meeting.

Nix said the songs and upbeat tempo were selected based on a conversation he once had with White’s granddaughter, who reported that White liked, “Hymns of ‘progress’…you know, a hymn that moves along. Grandma did not like slow hymns.”

Other presenters included Marvin Robinson, a great-great grandson of White, and Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson.

“This anniversary is a call for you and for me to move forward on that journey … revived and reformed in Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out the dreams and hopes of God himself as the Holy Spirit leads us,” Wilson said. “God is calling us today to never forget or to be fearful.”

The ceremony in the headquarters auditorium, attended by some 400 employees, was followed by the opening of a temporary display on Adventist history in the adjacent atrium.

During the ceremony, the prayer was offered by United States Senate Chaplain Barry Black, who is an Adventist. His prayer is posted below in its entirety:

Author and Finisher of our faith, You have been our Hope in ages past, and our Hope for years to come.

Thank You for this opportunity to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and for the privilege of unveiling a new exhibit on Adventist history at this world headquarters building today.

Lord, for a century and a half, You have used this church to bring deliverance to captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to free those who suffer.

Forgive us for the chapters in our history when we were missing in action and unavailable to help the lost, the lonely, and the least. Lord, forgive us for being silent when we should have spoken, and for speaking when we should have been silent. Forgive us, O God, for our sins of commission and omission. We claim Your promise in First John 1:9, that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Thank You, Lord, for your forgiving power.

Continue to challenge us as a church when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams came true because they are too small, when we arrived safely simply because we sailed too close to the shore.

We recommit ourselves today to accomplish Your great mission. We recommit ourselves today to Calvary and the blood that sets us free. We recommit ourselves, O God, today to bring Your love to all who need encouragement, to all who lack food and clothing, to all who are cold and cheerless, to all who are sick and shut-in, to all who are incarcerated, and to all who long for home and friendship.

We recommit ourselves today to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show Your mastery, where losing sight of land we will find Your stars.

O God of ages past, push back the horizon of our hopes and lead us into a future fueled by faith, focus and fortitude.

And hasten the day when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ rise, then may those of us who are still alive and remaining be caught up to meet our blessed Savior in the air and to live with Him throughout the ceaseless cycles of eternity.

Maranatha, even so come, Lord Jesus. We pray this prayer, in the majestic name of our soon coming Savior and King.