Plural Religious Identity Embraced by Adventists in Israel
6 May 2019 | In a May 3 article titled “Seventh-day Adventists fit into the rhythms — and faiths — of Israeli life,” Religion News Service (RNS) profiled the work of Adventists in the nation.
There are only about 900 Adventists in Israel and a single Adventist church in Jerusalem.
According to the article, being Adventist in Israel doesn’t limit you to one faith.
The piece profiles Sergey Gregoriev, the Adventist senior pastor for northern Israel. In addition to being Adventist, Gregoriev also claims to be Jewish.
“For me, being a Seventh-day Adventist is in harmony with my Jewish roots,” said Gregoriev, who came to Israel as an immigrant decades ago.
“Given the fluidity with other faiths, Adventist churches often reflect their converts’ native religions. The Jerusalem congregation, for instance, seems particularly Jewish,” said the RNS article.
“We do not encourage our community members to drive on the Sabbath, or engage in business matters,” said Julio Mendez, senior pastor of the Adventist congregation in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem church has a Torah ark standing in the center of the room and looks like a synagogue apart from a Hebrew copy of the New Testament on a stand in front of the Ark.
Mendez also said that many Jews are shocked to learn of a Christian group that keeps the seventh-day Sabbath. However, it is unclear how much common ground this issue provides.
“Even though Adventists incorporate the Sabbath into their faith, I don’t know how well received they would be among Jewish communities in Israel because the fundamental theological differences are what would stand out more,” said Joel Collick, a British-born Jewish Jerusalem resident.