British correspondent J. D. “Jim” Douglas last month traveled to Austria to cover a major international meeting of Seventh-day Adventists. The only non-Adventist journalist at the event, he shared a dormitory room with West Indians from London, interviewed SDA president R. H. Pierson (see box, next page), was himself interviewed by SDA media people (Douglas is an author and theological authority of wide repute), and engaged in some good-natured ribbing. At one point he impishly pointed out to officials that they had allowed the sixtieth anniversary of the death of SDA prophetess Ellen G. White to go unnoticed the previous day. In an equally impish touch, an SDA editor published the rebuke in the conclave’s daily bulletin. Jim’s report of the meeting follows:
The fifty-second World Congress of the Seventh-day Adventist Church came to Vienna last month, and in a thunder-storming welcome the Danube unprecedently burst its banks. In addition to 1,750 delegates from nearly all the 193 countries where Adventists work, many others came as visitors. Local people swelled attendance to about 10,000 at the first Sabbath (Saturday) meeting in the Stadthalle.
It was the first time the SDA congress, which is held every five years, had moved outside the United States. This was done to stress the church’s international nature and to encourage a wider representation of delegates and visitors. The policy paid off, for every eastern European country was represented except churchless Albania. A standing ovation was given seven delegates present “through the kindness and courtesy of the government of the U.S.S.R.”
All sessions were conducted in English and German, with translations in six other languages transmitted via headsets. The congress convened ...1
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