Sixth annual former Adventist conference the best ever


Colleen Tinker

The sixth annual Former Adventist Fellowship (FAF) weekend conference convened on Friday morning, February 18, 2011—almost a whole day earlier than previous conferences. This year, five seminars on Friday addressed the subjects most requested by people leaving Adventism. Mark Martin, former Adventist and senior pastor of Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona, presented talks explaining the pre-tribulation rapture, the human spirit, and eternal hell. Dale Ratzlaff, founder of Life Assurance Ministries and Proclamation!, gave a study on the Sabbath and the new covenant, and Jonathan Bilima, another former Adventist and pastor of Relevant Church in Riverside, California, taught on judgment: when it happens, and what God evaluates.

Sharon Strum led the praise team again this year, and Trinity pastor of community, Steve Springsted, welcomed attendees to the campus for the weekend.


Keynote by Gary Inrig

Rain was falling Friday evening as a crowd of around 250 people listened to Gary Inrig, senior pastor of Trinity Church, speak from the book of Jude on "Choosing to Defend the Gospel: why Trinity Church Ministers to Former Adventists". Gary identified the ways the gospel can be perverted and its power eclipsed, and he stated that Trinity Church ministers to former Adventists not because it stands against Adventism but because it stands for the gospel.

Gary's talk followed Myra Meharry sharing her faith story. In her story Myra explained that, as a Christian converted to Adventism, she realized Adventism was not Christian when she took a class in denominational history in a distance learning class from Andrews University Seminary. She read a quotation from her textbook, The Lightbearers, explaining that as the Adventist founders were formulating their doctrines, they would frequently bump into Bible passages they could not understand. At those times Ellen White would receive a vision, and the meanings of the passages would be made clear to her. They knew those revelations were from God because on her own, she did not understand what the Bible said in those passages.

Myra realized the founders' inability to understand Scripture meant they were not filled with the Spirit who reveals His own word. Myra stressed that she loves the Adventists, and because she loves them, it is not and never will be acceptable to stand by and say nothing.

A question and answer panel moderated by Richard Tinker followed the program. The panel consisted of Gary Inrig, Mark Martin, Dale Ratzlaff, and Colleen Tinker.

Saturday opened with Greg Taylor, former Adventist and senior pastor of the Brethren in Christ Church in Hempfield, Pennsylvania, presenting a devotional on the people listed in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus. Mark Martin presented the second session: "Why I Need to Choose a Church". Breakout sessions featured Mark Martin, Dale Ratzlaff, Greg Taylor, Martin Carey, and Jim Valentine.


Born again last year

Following lunch Nicole Stevenson shared her faith story, a moving celebration of God's faithfulness to her as He rescued her from a broken and destructive youth and brought her to new life at the end of last year's FAF weekend. Dale Ratzlaff then presented a clear and inspiring lesson on "progressive sanctification" based on the book of Galatians. After more breakout sessions, Jon Rittenhouse of Trinity Church closed the afternoon with a talk entitled, "How Can I Know If I'm Born Again?"

The evening meeting included Ben McPhaull, a former Adventist pastor who resigned in March, 2010, telling his story of God's faithfulness and encouraging others to trust God and follow Him into truth. Greg Taylor spoke on the seven last words of Jesus and invited anyone who had not yet done so to receive the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord before leading the group in communion.


Why worship on Sunday

Sunday morning Mark Martin listed a series of historical facts explaining why Christians worship on Sunday. Among other things he showed that Sunday had never been a day of pagan worship, and Constantine's legalizing Sunday as a day for Christian worship was based on the Christians' practice, not on pagan practice.

Trinity's associate pastor Mark Brown preached for church on the subject of the atonement as described in the book of Leviticus and described how the scapegoat represented Jesus bearing our sins out of camp. Following communion, the service ended with everyone singing "Worthy Is the Lamb". Most of the "formers" present were unable to stop their tears of joy.

The weekend ended with lunch at the home of Esther and Stanford Shu.


Last Adventist pillars fell

The teaching this year was rich, and the fellowship was deep and profound. Two people attending accepted Jesus on Saturday afternoon, and another said, "The last of the chains are gone. The last of the Adventist pillars fell for me this weekend… I told a Christian friend of mine. 'You've never heard real worship until you've heard a group of former Adventists singing because they are free from their bondage.'

"Jesus has been the center of my life from an intellectual position, but I went home feeling from a very deep level emotionally that He was the top priority in my life in a way I never felt it before." †

(Photography by Sharon Carey)





















Life Assurance Ministries

Copyright 2011 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Casa Grande, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 4, 2011. Contact email:


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DaleSpeakingDale Ratzlaff spoke on the Sabbath and on "progressive sanctification".

FAFCrowdposterizedAround 250 people attended the Friday evening meeting featuring Trinity pastor Gary Inrig.

StevensonsCarel Stevenson with his wife Nicole before she gave her faith story.

MartinWEBMartin Carey's breakout examined the legacy of Robert Brinsmead.

JimBreakoutWEBJim Valentine presented the "Four Genres of Adventist Scripture".

RatzlaffsTinkersRichard and Colleen Tinker and Dale and Carolyn Ratzlaff celebrated the Tinker's anniversary.

JonathanSpeakingWEBJonathan Bilima presented the subject of "Judgment".

MyraSpeakingWEBMyra Meharry gave her faith story on Friday evening.

GarySpeakingWEBGary Inrig addressed contending for the faith as the reason Trinity church ministers to former Adventists.

JonBenJon Rittenhouse and Ben McPhaull enjoyed meeting.

GregSpeakingWEBGreg Taylor led communion Saturday evening.

MarkLeslieWEBMark and Leslie Martin enjoying the fellowship at Sunday lunch.