By AT News Team, Dec. 31, 2014:   On December 14 CBS aired a television program that looked at three faith communities—Mennonites, Sikhs and Seventh-day Adventists. The 27-minute program, which can be viewed online (link), includes ten minutes of coverage on the Adventist Church.[1] The rationale for selecting these three faiths is not explained.

The segment begins with a description of the Millerite movement of the mid-1800s. William Miller, a Baptist, led the movement that expected Jesus to return in 1844. Bill Knott, editor of the Adventist Review and Adventist World, explains that roughly three percent of the United States’ population supported or were somehow connected to the movement. Richard Duerksen of Maranatha Volunteers International shares that he is impressed that the group did not give up when Jesus did not return as expected, an experience known as the Great Disappointment. Viewers could be confused by this section because it is not explicitly clear that while Seventh-day Adventists grew out of this Advent movement, Miller himself was never a Seventh-day Adventist.

Ellen Harmon—who eventually married James White—is introduced in this context because she was moved by Miller’s presentations. Ella Simmons, a vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, describes White’s early experiences: “Because of injuries she had sustained as a child, she was confined to home. And she says sometimes she was so overwhelmingly lonely that she sought for some comfort so she started to read the Bible. And she says in the Scriptures she found Jesus as her friend who was always there for her.”

The program’s focus then turns to the topic of health. Duerksen says of White, “She received what she called a vision from God, saying ‘If you’re going to go to heaven, if you’re really going to live as one of my followers, you need to be healthy.’” While health is an important value for Seventh-day Adventists, Duerken’s phrase could be interpreted to mean that Adventists believe a person needs to be healthy in order to go to heaven, that sick people are not accepted. Instead, he likely intended to convey that people who are concerned about heaven in the future should also be concerned about their health today.

The health theme is continued with a short consideration of John Harvey Kellogg and the Battle Creek Sanitarium, followed by a brief look at the medical facilities in Loma Linda, California.

Next, attention turns to the Sabbath. Simmons explains, “When sunset comes around, different families have their different rituals or traditions, but we all stop.” Knott adds, “The notion of refraining from work, from trying to get ahead, pushing business—God is trying to encourage us to take a day for reflection, for family, for rejuvenation.”

Finally, the narrator transitions from the Sabbath to community service: “Saturday Sabbath usually consists of worship and a walk in nature or charity work. Adventists share a strong commitment to serving their fellowman.”

Simmons expounds on this value. “We have community service in practically every part of the world.” “We serve the community in ways that they need.” “Mission is our reason for being.”

The television program concludes with a remark by Duerksen: “I want in my Seventh-day Adventist community for every single member to be transformed by the indwelling Jesus that makes me kinder, compassionate, genuinely interested in the needs of others, ready to respond whenever the Spirit says, ‘Turn left.’”

NOTE: The Mennonite portion of the program is also of special interest to Seventh-day Adventists because Adventists are positioned theologically in the Anabaptist stream of the Radical Reformation. Adventist Today assistant news editor Jeff Boyd demonstrated this in a three-part series on the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

[1] Accessible online at https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/world-religions-sikhs-seventh-day-adventists-mennonites/. The section on the Adventist Church begins at 17:50.