Dean's Report

David ThomasI am happy, at this point in the year, to be able to write a good report to you. With only one year of being Dean under my belt, I am still very much aware of the differences between pastoring and teaching. Both of them are grand endeavors, and have their particular places. I am regularly reminded of what a privilege it is to work with skilled colleagues, and what a privilege and challenge it is to work with young people who are refining and internalizing belief systems.

There are a number of reportable things that come to mind. The first has to do with the various ministries students are involved with during the summer months. I am constrained to use the word "astonishment" when describing my reaction to hearing the student's reports at our annual retreat. From preaching evangelistic meetings in Ghana, to selling books door-to-door, to working at summer camps, to working with churches, to serving as Student Missionaries, Walla Walla College theology and religion majors took on the Gospel cause. The services they delivered were credible (in some cases, incredible) under the grace of God. Whoever ends up hiring them, will get individuals with significant service already under their belts.

I am happy to report that the number of majors in the School of Theology is up and rising. It is hard to get very accurate figures because students keep changing majors along life's way, but a close estimate would put the number of majors this year at about 12 over last year. Some of these new students are transfers from other colleges, having come to finish their programs at Walla Walla College. The reports they bring of news from afar is that life and study here at the School of Theology are good.

The current Freshman class gives me something to talk about, too. As I have worked to become acquainted with them, I have been impressed with their spiritual commitment, interest in service, and with their academic ability. I do believe that they will go on to distinguish themselves in whatever field of service in which they find themselves. The promise they hold gives to those of us who are on the faculty a significant responsibility to help form them for service. The make-up of the current freshman class is doubly gratifying to me because this is the second year the School of Theology has seen a very able freshman class enroll.

All these things, along with the others reported in this newsletter, give me hope and confidence that the Walla Walla School of Theology will continue to make a sterling contribution to church life and function into the future, just as it has done in past years. We solicit your interest and your prayers. Ours is not always an easy task, but it is an essential one.

Dave Thomas


School of Theology Student stats (2002-03)

Theology   65
Religion   19
Biblical Languages Majors   1
Freshmen   23
Sophomore   21
Junior   23
Senior   17

Theology/Religion 2003 Graduates

Theology Graduates
  Alin Apostol
  Troy Ahrens
  Ross Brown
  Leonard Ron Cummings
  Ellen Park
  Lucas Porter
  Jared Spano
Religion Graduates
  Jeremiah Craik
  Clifford Christensen
  Jeffrey Downs


Coming to the WWC School of Theology

Rosetta Khan

Hi. I'm Rosetta, a sinner saved by the gracious love of God. In the past I had found every excuse to avoid worshiping God. I made sure I was thoroughly distracted by movies, music, television, and gorging myself on food. I withdrew from my family and friends. I gained 109 lbs. I worked as a biotech lab technician and loved it, so I became a workaholic as well. I also developed moderate obstructive respiratory disease. My unhealthy practices and the void of not having God in my life took their toll. I was empty.

But I wanted to go to an Adventist College where God is first and I wouldn't be lost in the crowd. I was considering five majors: Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Theology, and Music. I felt God calling me to Theology, but thought "no way." I laughed. I will go to an SDA school and I can take some religion classes as part of my degree requirements and that will suffice. I can tell people about God and major in something more practical. I kept thinking, "Jesus was a carpenter," so I need some sort of skill to make money.

I decided to take Electrical Engineering. As I attempted to register for classes, I heard God's call, but I tried to avoid it. Finally, at vespers one Friday night, I met Jaci who told me she was in Theology. I felt the sweet, loving Holy Spirit call me again. I got mad and the Spirit departed. I told God, "Why did I come here for E.E. if you want me to study Theology?" I struggled that night. As I got into bed I said, "God, I don't want to fight with you, so give me the words to tell my mother." I was most afraid of her reaction. When I mentioned Theology in the past, she got uncomfortable and urged me to pick something more practical. God gave me the words to say. I told her. She doesn't understand, but she accepts my decision. What can be more practical than to serve God who has given so much for me?

After I accepted God's call, everything fell into place through God's power. At WWC, I've found a Christ-focused atmosphere and people of all kinds who seek after God and put Him first. Life is a struggle and studying Theology can be as well. But in the midst of struggle, He blesses me.

Rosetta Khan

Joshua Daniel

A new school, a new year, and a new faith. My name is Joshua Daniel and I became an Adventist about a year ago. I've known for five years that God wanted me to be a pastor. Several different people have encouraged me towards pastoring, and I've felt like God was pointing me in that direction as well. But I didn't want to be a pastor because I couldn't talk in front of large groups of people without shaking and my voice cracking. God has helped me overcome that fear of large groups.

I started my degree at Everett Community College, while working full time as a screen printer, manager, and roofer. After two years at Everett, I was married to my girlfriend of three years while in the planning stages of coming to Walla Walla College. So far I've liked what I've experienced. I really appreciate how the teachers pray before each class and love the sense of community. The environment here at Walla Walla College is a big breath of fresh air. I feel supported by the teachers, students, and faculty as they help me excel toward my goal of serving God.

Joshua Daniel

Theology Student Missionaries

Student Missionaries

This year Walla Walla College has sponsored 85 Student Missionaries across the United States and around the world. Five of these are Theology or Religion majors.

Jody Foster, a sophomore Theology major, serves as Youth Pastor at the Spokane South Hill Church. She is responsible for the church youth group and also works with Upper Columbia Academy students. Being in the Northwest gave her the opportunity to attend the recent Association of Adventist Women Conference in Portland.

Levi Martin practices hands-on ministry here on the Walla Walla College campus, assigned to Plant Services. He is assistant to Bob Hays, with the special responsibility of installing fire alarms in the buildings in order to comply with regulations.

Overseas, Fawn Halverson teaches first grade at the Comyagua Bilingual School in Honduras, Central America. She is very busy with about 30 children who are just learning English.

Also in Central America, in Santa Elena, Belize, is Alan Newbold. He is working in the medical field like his father does here in Walla Walla. Alan assists at the La Loma Luz Hospital.

Micheal Rhynus is having the time of his life as a teacher on the Pacific Island of Kosrae. He is a teacher at the Adventist school there, which has an enrollment of approximately 60 students. He, like many Student Missionaries, finds that church lasts all day on Sabbath, and impromptu participation is a given! Life in the tropics has its joys and challenges.

Pedrito Maynard-Reid

Student/Pastor Mentors

WW Eastgate
Pastor Cary Fry
  James Akers
  Dayv Loundsbury
Pasco Ephesus
  Pastor Abraham Francois
  Terrance Taylor
  Pastor Roger Johnson
  Tyrone Bryan
  Caleb Henry
WW City
  Pastor Rick Bowes
  Daniel Tonn
  Pastor Troy Fitzgerald
  Brian Hart
  Ellen Park
  Bryan Cafferky
CP Village
  Pastor Lee Venden
  Keith Wilfley

Student Missionaries/Taskforce

Jody Foster Spokane, WA
Levi Martin   Walla Walla, WA
Fawn Halverson   Honduras
Alan Neubold   Belize
Michael Rhynus   Kosrae


Meet Some Of Our New Theology Majors

by Natasha Hernandez Erik Kort

Erik Kort is from Lincoln City, OR. He enjoys reading, writing, playing with his rat, and anything to do with people. He is looking forward to meeting new people this year at Walla Walla College.

Dustin Williams

Dustin Williams, a native of Grants Pass, OR, has a variety of hobbies that include riding quads, listening to music, and working on computers. When asked what he is looking forward to most at WWC, he replied, Women.

Michelle DeBard

Michelle DeBard claims both Boise, ID and Reno, NV as her home. She enjoys sports, singing, camping, and music, but her favorite thing of all is ice cream. Like Erik, she is looking forward to meeting new people throughout the year.

Emily Schmidt

Emily Schmidt joins us from Redlands, CA. Her favorite hobbies are singing, playing the guitar, and playing volleyball. Meeting new people and becoming a better person tie for what she is looking forward to most this year.

Brandon Moor

Brandon Moor comes to us from Battle Ground, WA. He loves guitar, music, and sports, but can't stand cracking knuckles. He looks forward to meeting people and getting involved.


Theology Retreat

by Natasha Hernandez

"Learning Together" was the appropriately named theme for this year's Theology Retreat. Both faculty and students left our campus on October 11, 2002, and traveled to Camp Elkanah, two hours south of WWC in Oregon. There, nestled between the forest and creek, they spent two days fellowshipping, worshipping, and learning together.

On Friday, their arrival was met with a devotional by Dave Thomas, and a delicious supper. They spent the evening getting better acquainted, as well as practicing group skits that were presented the following morning. A campfire in frigid weather, friendly conversation, and a warm bed concluded an enjoyable first day.

Sabbath was jumpstarted by an early morning devotional, and yet another scrumptious meal. Then faculty and students settled in for a Sabbath school that consisted of music, skits, and a report from students and faculty on their "sizzling summer experiences." These consisted of student missionaries, taskforce positions, the recent trip to Ghana, summer camp, ACA in Athens and the eastern Jordanian desert. Church followed with more music and a homily by Tyler Kruger, graduated 1999. After a late lunch, the faculty shared with the students one lesson they'd learned from someone else. This generated lots of discussion.

To culminate the retreat, the faculty and students participated in a communion service organized and presented by Zdravko Stefanovic and the Hebrew class. The retreat ended with the whole group praying for the new club officers and faculty and singing together around Terrance Taylor's synthesizer.

Memories of this year's retreat would have to include the cold temperatures (16 degrees overnight) contrasted with the warmth of good food and fellowship and the sharing so many did about witnessing experiences.

Sizzling Summer Experiences: Once Again

by Alden Thompson Alden Thompson

On October 11 at Camp Elkanah, the Sabbath School hour witnessed a remarkable explosion of "Sizzling Summer Experiences." The title, coined several years ago by Doug Clark, really lived up to its name this year. So many students wanted to tell what the Lord had done in, through, and in spite of themselves, that we finally just threw away the list and the clock or almost. Several students had unique personal experiences of call and witness. Others fit into more traditional categories. Here's a quick rundown:

Student Missions and Task Force. We heard of transformed lives among the SMs themselves and in the people they served. But it wasn't all peace and light. Some bore sobering testimony to difficult times and "growth" opportunities which they gladly would have done without. That was particularly true of some of the homeland Task Force assignments. Yet God brought good things in the end.

Evangelism and Church Work. Several students had worked in book evangelism, some in public evangelism, some in local churches. Again, the experiences varied widely between high exhilaration and keen disappointment. But we appreciated the willingness of the students to share both the good and the bad and we heard vivid testimonies to God's guiding hand.

Greek II in Greece. Several of the students and two faculty members, Bruce Johanson and Zdravko Stefanovic, participated in the intensive Greek II program in Greece, sponsored by Adventist Colleges Abroad. Tensions in the Middle East had forced the cancellation of the Hebrew program, but the Greek program continues to grow, with 20 students on site in Athens this past summer.

Evangelism in Ghana. Eight WWC students accompanied Zdravko Stefanovic and Dave Parks to Ghana where they joined with a team of students from Pacific Union College for a coordinated evangelistic effort masterminded by former General Conference President, Robert Folkenberg. Using PowerPoint materials prepared by Folkenberg, each student and faculty member led out in a local evangelistic series as the speaker at a designated site. It "worked" beyond their fondest hopes, both for them individually and for the people to whom they ministered. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

Archaeology. Doug Clark had just completed a 6-month sabbatical in Jordan. He showed slides and told amazing tales of doing archaeology in the Middle East in difficult times. As we listened, it became clear that simply living there is a challenge these days, to say nothing of digging for gold or (more likely) for broken pottery.

Summer Camp. The largest group to share their experiences consisted of those who had worked in various summer camps throughout the country. The significant potential for evangelism in our summer camp programs was confirmed by both the quality and the quantity of the testimonies brought by our students.

On balance, it was a remarkable summer, full of miracles and transformations, yet mixed with enough heavy weather to remind us that this earth is not our final destination.

2002-2003 Schedule of IBCC Seminars

Date Church Topic / Presenter(s)
Nov. 8-10 Sunnyside Ellen White: Asset or Liability?
Alden Thompson and George Knight
[This was one of our most successful seminars ever with over 300 people in attendance and 100+ orders for tapes of the sessions.]
Jan. 24-26 Sunnyside Archaeology and Life (and Death) in Bible Times
Douglas Clark, Larry Geraty, Larry Herr, Gloria London
Feb. 7-8 Bellevue Evangelism
Pedrito Maynard-Reid
Feb. 14 North Cascade TBA
Feb. 21-23 Sunnyside Speak Up or Shut Up: Eager Luther (Alden Thompson) and Practical Melanchthon (Dave Thomas) Address Issues in the Church
April 26 Walla Walla Current Issues in Adventism

Calendar of Theology Events

Feb. 21-22, 2003: Theology Club Retreat
April 25, 2003: Ministry Recognition Service, Heubach Chapel, 6:30 pm
April 26, 2003: IBCC Seminar on campus
April 26, 2003: Theology Alumni Supper, SAC, 6:15 pm
May 31, 2003: Senior/Theology Faculty Retreat



School of Theology Faculty

Dave Thomas, Dean Theology
Darold Bigger   Pastoral Administration
Doug Clark   Old Testament
Paul Dybdahl   Biblical Studies
Bruce Johanson   New Testament Languages
Ron Jolliffe   Biblical Languages
Lydia Kim   IBCC Guest Lecturer
Old Testament
Pedrito Maynard-Reid   New Testament Ethics
Zdravko Stefanovic   Old Testament
Alden Thompson   Old Testament Adventist History
Larry Veverka   Pastoral Counseling

Brunt Returns to Pastoring in California

John Brunt

The transition from teacher/ administrator to preacher/pastor is still new, so it is hard to say anything definitive, but here are some reflections about two months into the process. First, it is surprising how much of the work is similar. In many ways my life doesn't seem all that different. In both jobs I spend a lot of time in committees and working with people in organizational planning. Also, in both jobs I do a lot of troubleshooting on problems-both people problems and various minor crises. Finally, in both situations I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues. I love the pastoral team I work with at Azure Hills, California.

The biggest difference is the pleasure and pressure of preaching every week to the same congregation. I love it, but it is a tremendous amount of work. I start feeling the stress on Sabbath afternoon for the next week and it doesn't really end until the next sermon is prepared and delivered. So the amount of stressfree time is fairly limited. And lots of things come up, like deaths and funerals, that require immediate attention, so it is hard to schedule preaching preparation time with certainty. But the congregation has been very gracious and we already feel a strong sense of family with them.

The biggest changes have to do with lifestyle as a result of the differences between Walla Walla and Southern California. We live twelve miles from the church. It can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on freeway traffic. We never thought about such things in Walla Walla. We miss all our friends in Walla Walla , but we are enjoying old friends and making many wonderful new ones here. And I must admit, I am having a great time.


Delight in the Law

Zdravko Stefanovic

A well-known verse from the biblical book of Psalms describes a righteous person as one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 1:2). This same type of feeling toward God's laws and instructions is said to have governed the attitude of the authors of Psalms 19, 112, 119, etc. In the New Testament (NT), the apostle Paul made the same claim when he said: "For in my inner being I delight in God's law" (Romans 7:22). Can this be true? Many people are ready to admit that rules and regulations are necessary in life. But is it possible for a person to read the legal material from the Bible and actually enjoy it, let alone find delight in it?

Often when we read the word "law" in the Old Testament (OT), it is a translation of the original Hebrew word torah. From the point of view of etymology, this word is derived from the root yrh which, according to Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon, means to "throw, shoot {an arrow}, cast" and by extension "to aim in the right direction, or to show the way."

The related term, moreh, stands for someone who dispenses instruction, hence, the translation "teacher." The word Torah is another substantive of the same root and it may have originally described the way to walk, the way to act, or a direction in life (Nehemiah 10:29; 2 Samuel 7:19; Psalm 119: 105).

In the Bible, the verb "to walk" is a common metaphor for "to live" and "to walk in the straight path" means to live an upright life before God. One way to commit sin, according to the Bible, is to miss the mark (Hebrew verb hatta), or to stray to the right or to the left away from the straight path, i.e., the Torah. When this happens to a person, then he/she needs to repent, an act which in the OT is expressed by the verb shuv (read shoov!) which literally means "to turn/return to the straight path."

From the point of view of semantics, the word Torah is best translated as instruction, teaching, or simply "a word." Of course, the Torah is primarily God's word, instruction, or teaching. The following two verses from the book of Isaiah show through the use of Hebrew parallelism how the Torah is synonymous with "God's word."

"Hear the word (Hebrew devar) of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law (Hebrew torat) of our God, you people of Gomorrah" (1:10).

"The law (Hebrew torah) will go out of Zion, the word (Hebrew devar) of the Lord from Jerusalem" (2:3).

In this text, Torah is synonymous with a prophetic oracle and is often referred to as the word from the Lord. In addition to this usage, Torah in the Bible stands for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 4:44), the Pentateuch (Matthew 22:29-Greek), or the entire OT (Daniel 9:10; John 15:25-Greek).

The practice of the majority of ancient and modern Bible translators consistently to render the word Torah with "law" is somewhat unfortunate, because it narrows greatly a whole spectrum of meanings that are found in this rich theological term. This is not to say that Torah is not of a legal nature, but rather that the legal aspect is only one facet of this term. Or, to put it differently, Torah comprises much more than a mere law.

At this juncture it may be useful to ask how it came about that the Torah began to be viewed as law. I believe that this transition from a notion of teaching and instruction to the one of law most likely took place during the Persian occupation of Palestine. Cyrus the Great was one of the most tolerant emperors the world has ever known. Rather than introducing and imposing foreign laws and strange gods upon a conquered land, the Persians under Cyrus allowed the subjected people to worship their own gods and to be judged by their own laws, as long as they regularly paid taxes to the emperor. In this context, the concept of the Persian law (dath) became very prominent. Since the land of Judah belonged to the fifth satrapy in the Persian Empire, the written Torah of Moses became the law of the land of Judah and the standard by which all judicial issues were decided. Ever since that period in Jewish history, the entire Torah has been viewed primarily as law. This change paved the way for the translation of Torah into the Greek language as nomos, a word frequently used in the Septuagint and one of the key terms used in the NT.

Torah in a wider sense, stands for God's instruction first given to the people of Israel who had been liberated from slavery in order to show them how to live the life of freedom from bondage and sin. In this context, God who gave his Torah was primarily introduced to the people as their great Savior and only secondarily as the Lawgiver. In the words of Moses to the Hebrews from Deuteronomy 32:47 the words of the Torah "are not just empty words for you; they are your life." In God's Torah there is not just one literary type that is used (i.e., law), but several genres including poetry as well as divine promises. Guarded "as the apple of your eye" (Proverbs 7:2), Torah should not be viewed as being restrictive in character, but as something that sets one's "heart free" (Psalm 119:32).

In conclusion, God's written word is more than just a rule book. The book of law is first of all the book of life. It contains words of love, comfort, and promise. When viewed in this way, the Torah becomes a true delight for every believer.

Institute Moving Toward Endowment: Needs Your Help

The Institute of Bible, Church & Culture was established more than a decade ago to address two questions: How do Seventh-day Adventists remain faithful to their spiritual heritage and relevant to modern society? Is it possible to recapture the past in new and creative ways in order to make a difference in our world?

Having served as an umbrella organization for a successful series of mostly Northwest Seminars over the past ten years and the PROBE series of taped Sabbath School lesson discussions listened to all over the world, the Institute will also begin a publications program, mostly electronic.

Our plans, not fully in place yet, but moving in the right direction, are to establish an endowment to support the expenses we incur for the various outreach programs we sponsor. Costs normally total over $50,000 per year, so we are aiming high!

Our sincere gratitude as we continue to utilize these outreach programs.

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Last update on August 4, 2010