J. David Newman: SDA Celebrity: Senior Pastor of New Hope Church: Former Editor of Ministry Magazine and man with great accent.I watched the heat of the Asian food erupt in sweat beads all across his brow as we sat across from each other gabbing. He kept clearing his throat. I remember because I had suggested the restaurant and felt bad. Perhaps being British (or whatever that accent was), he was not used to spicy food. But it was an intense time for the both of us and I was hot under the collar myself.
[Seventh in series of Adventist Celebrities and Me... because so many SDAs claim I wasn't ever really an SDA but someone on the periphery of the church.]
We were voting members of a committee of 25 attempting to come up with Biblical guidelines for the worldwide church on the subject of abortion. It was ironic because I was quite pregnant at the time and a kind of walking illustration of what exactly was at stake.
Being, providentially, a bit late to the first meeting on the Loma Linda University campus, I was informed by a fuming lady to my left that the committee just took an oath of secrecy. After several days of listening to the back and forth, I realized that Dr. Jack Provonsha had already written the guidelines and all they really wanted from us was a thumbs up.
(These recommendations would eventually make it through the Executive Committee and become the 1992 official abortion statement for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.)
David Newman and I had to commiserate because we were outnumbered as the only openly pro-life voting members. Both of us seemed shocked at what we were hearing. I was invited because I was the president of Adventists For Life; he the editor of Ministry Magazine.
We both knew that the outcome would be very skewed towards the pro-choice side because of the utterly absurd comments coming from the mouths of the SDA elite--the lawyer for the Religious Liberty arm, the Presidents of European Unions, Vice President of something about women... Theological scholars flown in from the top SDA Universities all over the world.
I enjoyed my lunch with David, but I was rather disappointed that such a big--physically as well as influentially--man meekly explained to me that he was not the kind of guy that would loudly protest. He was a passivist. I knew his heart was supportive of our work in Adventists For Life, but that was as far as it went.
A couple day later, we all sat at a large table and voted to bring in the most liberal guidelines I could imagine at the time. David Newman and I were stunned. We both, of course, were the only two to raise a word in protest as well as a vote AGAINST the guidelines.
We have not had any contact that I can remember anyway, since the meeting was over. But for a few minutes there I felt that someone at the top understood the importance of the commandment not to kill as well as the sabbath commandment. Albert Whiting didn't seem to, (chairman of the committee), the female lawyer for the Religious Liberty department didn't seem to... if fact what was said in that meeting would have melted most Adventists' brains.
When I left the last meeting, I stroked that little baby boy awaiting birth and said I was sorry. I didn't like him hearing all that was said by those church leaders. Now a lot of his little Adventist friends would never be born.