Penny Estes Wheeler: Adventist Celebrity: Review and Herald Publishing Editor and Writer
[Eighth 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.]
Penny is my mother's cousin. You may not think you know her, but she has been writing for the SDA publications like the "Little Friend," all her life. She was editor of "The Guide" "Women of Spirit" and has worked for the Review and Herald forever.... You may remember her novel about the last days and Ellen White's prophecies. Many SDA school teachers read it aloud to their elementary students, it is entitled, "The Appearing."
Penny gave me my first opportunity to publish my writings. She is a dear! Her aunts and husband, Gerald, and her son, Tompaul also work for the Review and Herald. (And they have given me a personalized tour of the publishing company and told me all kinds of James and Ellen White tidbits that most Adventists would be horrified to discover.)
For the life of me, I can't figure out why they remain SDA. They are ultra liberal SDAs. They are incredibly smart and talented. There are just personality types that are so devoted and loyal, which is sweet beyond words--that they don't care if the ones they love are flawed, they stick by them. Period. I think that is the Wheelers, I think they really love the SDA church.
Now I am bored and don't want to write any more in this series.
The reason I wrote this is because I get so many Adventists claim that I never was REALLY a SDA. I was just a peripheral member that never actually had anything to do with the church. (And it gave me another reason to beg the SDA church to stop being a one-commandment church and stand against the murder of the unborn.)
My qualifications as a real Adventist were:
1. I was a multi-generational SDA, my great grandparents were Adventist (both sides). My husband's grandparents were SDA (both sides).
2. My great grandmother knew Ellen White--I don't think well, but knew her somewhat.
3. Both my husband and I went to Adventist elementary school. Arthur in the Seattle area and myself in Dallas--so we have a good idea of what the different SDA areas were like.
4. Both my husband and I went to Adventists boarding academy (Valley Grande Academy.)
5. Both my husband and I attended and graduated from Adventist Universities.
My husband's father was both an ordained SDA minister and also a teacher and principal in SDA schools for over thirty years.
I taught in Sabbath School for decades.
I taught in Children's Church.
I taught in SDA schools: in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference as well as the Texas Conference.
I published articles in SDA periodicals such as : Women of Spirit, Conference and Union magazines, Spectrum, Adventist Review, Signs of the Times, Adventists Affirm (often under a pseudonym).
I was founder of the first SDA pro-life organization that eventually joined with Adventists for Life (founder George Lawson) that had branches in three different states. We went to many SDA elementary schools, high school and colleges to present our message. I ended up having to quit because I was worried I was neglecting my three children. So, within a few years the organization fizzled. But now the pro-life movement is growing again within the church (thanks Nic! S.) Praise the Lord.
Arthur and/ or myself have lived in SDA meccas such as Walla Walla College; Portland, Oregon; Loma Linda, California, Keene, Texas; Collegedale, Tennessee, the DC area as well as Hagerstown, MD. We have attended SDA churches in Europe as well.
For the vast majority of my life, I was prepared to die rather than give up the Sabbath. I loved being an SDA and where they were legalistic (or outright wrong--like in abortion), I loved the church so much I tried for twenty years to change it from within.
And the series is to show that I knew a lot of movers and shakers in the SDA church. To say I wasn't really an Adventist, is to be ignorant of the facts. Which is not an insult.... just wanted to give you the facts.