Forum News - Summer 2002

Ron Lawson, Chaplain


Dear Member

Greetings! This newsletter tells you more about our June 29 meeting in St Paul's Chapel, invites you to participate in three meetings in homes in July and August, and gives you some major pieces of news.

Spiritual Nurture: We are paying a great deal of attention to shaping our services so that they feed us spiritually. We are committed to make them more worshipful and to spiritually nurture one another better. You will see the impact of this commitment in our Summer and Fall meetings. Let me tell you about one plan now, because you need to act soon if you wish to be involved in this.

Rick Rice, a theologian teaching at Loma Linda University, once chatted with a Jewish Rabbi about the relative importance of believing, behaving and belonging. The Rabbi said that for Jews belonging is most important, then behaving. with believing least of the three. Rick realized that for most Adventists the order is: believing, then behaving, with belonging least important. This realization, and the study that followed, has resulted in his new book, Believing, Behaving and Belonging, in which he argues that the New Testament clearly makes belonging primary. He then explores how this realization revolutionizes our faith and lives. We are going to read and discuss this book together starting in the Fall, covering about 50 pages in each of four sessions; we are also planning to invite Rick to spend a Sabbath with us. We ordersd 20 copies of the book (quantity discounted from $15 to $10), and these are available on a first-come-first-served basis. We ask you to pay for you copies (we can get more if these go fast-as we hope they will). Copies will be available at our summer meetings. Don't miss out on this book or the discussion.

Big Changes Concerning our Mission: First some history. The Forum began as a student organization at Columbia University 34 years ago. In the 1970's and early 1980s our name appeared on the list of campus religious groups given to students as they registered, and every year we received about 50 forms completed by Adventist students. However, in the mid-1980s the university ceased giving such forms to students, and all religious organizations on campus suffered. Subsequently, the big religious groups with official chaplains on campus arranged to obtain the list of incoming students from the university and sent a similar form to these by mail. However, our name was no longer there, so that Adventist students assume there was nothing for them on cqampus and did not return the form (and when they did we rearely received them). I have done everything I can to get us on that list, but without avail. And so our mission on campus has sufered.

We are now seeking to revitalize our mission by taking two steps. The first is to help form a new compus organization that will bring Adventist students together. Second, we wish to appoint and support a part-time chaplain on campus, whose presence will allow our name on the list of organizations sent to students. We will then knowwho they are and be able, especially through the chaplain, to be there for them. We expect that more of them will become involved with our community. Another result of this plan will be that the University will no longer categorize us as an "outside" organization, allowing us to worship in St Paul's Chapel (beginning this fall outside organizations will be charged $900 per use--far more than we can afford). We ask you to pray for these initiatives we are taking to improve our mission to the campus. Please help put us in contact with all Adventist students at Columbia who you are aware of. We need a minimum number of students in order to gain official recognition for the student organization, allowing us to have a campus chaplain.

Good and Bad Personal News: Hernando and Lisie Orjuela had a healthy and gorgeous baby son, Alessandro. He will be dedicated as a part of the Worship Recital on June 29.

Dr Charles Stokes, one of our founding members, formerly Academic Dean of Atlantic Union College and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Bridgeport, has died. Several of our members attended his memorial service. We will sorely miss hime.

Ronald Lawson, PhD
Chaplain