During the 2015 Annual Council meetings, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders and lay delegates, met for Friday evening worship away from Church headquarters in Sliver Spring, Maryland. In an effort to celebrate Adventist history in Takoma Park Maryland, a city that turned a landmark 125-years-old this year, hundreds of attendees convened at the historic Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church.
For 112 years the Seventh-day Adventist Church has played a major role in Takoma Park’s story, said David Trim, director of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. From 1903 until 1989, this approximately 2.4-mile stretch of land was home to the Church headquarters and still holds long-standing Adventist establishments, including institutions known today as Washington Adventist University and Washington Adventist Hospital.
During the 1960s many people moved to Takoma Park, attracted to Adventist vegetarian restaurants and shops, Trim said. While healthy food markets and restaurants remain, Adventists have moved out of the area. “What was once a stronghold is yet another area we need to reach more of,” he said. Takoma Park is still known as countercultural, Trim said. “The character of Takoma Park today is a direct consequence of Adventism.”
Henry Wright, senior pastor of Takoma Park Church, who welcomed the congregation back home, said the church is still relevant in the community. “The Takoma Park Church is still considered by this city as one of its spiritual hearts,” he said. “They look to Takoma Park [Church] for our leadership and our participation.” Although the city is no longer predominantly Adventist, Wright said, the church’s influence is still strong.
Trim, who made a brief presentation to attendees about the history of Adventism in Takoma Park, said annual councils have met at Takoma Park Church for decades. “By meeting here, we are honoring those who came before us,” Trim said. “We are honoring the decisions that were taken here, which changed the Church’s history for the better and enabled this Church to reach the world.”
The theme of the 2015 Annual Council is “Reach the World,” and Church leaders stressed the idea of “breathing new life into old methods” of ministry. Speakers, including Mark Finley, Gary Krause and Derek Morris, all highlighted unique ways to reach out to urban communities. These methods include building centers of influence, Your Best Pathway to Health events, and using social networking to spread God’s word.
Ted Wilson, president of Seventh-day Adventist World Church, spoke supporting these new methods and looked back on his own history at Takoma Park Church. “What a privilege it is for us to come back to this place where God used men and women in so many dynamic ways to propel His message,” he said. Wilson, who was baptized at Takoma Park Church 53 years ago, closed pointing to Christ’s second coming. “The Lord doesn’t expect for us to have more and more annual councils, whether they are in Takoma Park, or in Silver Spring or anywhere,” he said. “The Lord wants to come back soon.”