Letter from Australia

7th November 1996

Dear Pastor Grosboll,

I have just completed reading your article “A Lesson from Australia” in the September 96 issue of Land Marks. I have found this article very interesting.

It was in the late 1980’s when my husband Peter and I began to get interested in what was happening in Seventh-day Adventism in Australia. We were concerned about what our children were being taught at Avondale College and of some of the student activities happening there. From 1984-90 our five children attended Avondale. At first we neither realized the seriousness or implications of what was happening. We spoke to some about the concerns we had, but were told “not to be critical.”

Then Ron Spear and Marshall Grosboll (and their wives) came to Albury. We asked them to stay with us, and organized a meeting at our home. I can still remember how Ron quoted SOP by memory—it was amazing to us. Marshall took a talk on the Nature of Christ.

After they left we started searching. We soon found ourselves unpopular with our local church Pastor. We searched for truth in our local church and found emptiness. At this time there was a group of about 30 in our church who were meeting with us who were also searching for truth. We knew that we couldn’t stay in a church that was not preparing us for Christ’s soon coming, so we decided to run our own church. We tried to become a Branch Sabbath School and applied to the Conference, but were ignored because we did not go through the “right channels.” We knew that we couldn’t take any new converts to our local Conference Church.

So in 1990 we decided to become a Congregational Church. We ran Sabbath School, Church and Outreach programmes, preaching and teaching the True Advent Doctrine. Then when my husband Peter baptised someone, our local conference church used this as an excuse to disfellowship him and two other men who were also leading out at our church because they did not follow properly constituted church authority, and belonged to a divisive movement.

We continued to meet as a church and had different speakers come to us from America. This caused us problems as they were telling us to go back to the church. Some of our people became confused and went back to the Conference church. After this happened a few times we decided to stop having any visiting preachers and our local men did all the preaching.

We were amazed at these preachers. They were not working for the conference, they were brought to Australia by Independent Ministries, yet they were saying “go back to the church.” At this stage I had only just started hearing about Independent Ministries. Most Australians had the belief that if one was not under the conference, they were not real Seventh-day Adventists. Yet many of these visiting speakers ran or worked for Independent Ministries in America. If they would be doing their same work in Australia, they would not be accepted here.

So much confusion has been caused because our people do not understand what God’s true church is. They mistakenly keep thinking it is the “conference”. We have seen countless people stop attending Independent Camp Meetings—they feel they must go back to “the church,” or if they cannot face the apostasy in their conference church they would sooner stay at home alone rather than worship with us because we have “formed a new church.” We have seen attendance dwindle from hundreds down to small groups.

Not only did we face this confusion, but our pulpit has been used by people with strange theology who see a ready made audience for their way off theology. This has caused us problems when some of our members were influenced by them. It seemed as soon as we gained a few more members, someone would come along and they would leave. We have had issues of separationism, pictures as idols, futurism, corporate responsibility and many more.

Currently we are at our lowest membership for quite some time with a few families leaving. About 20 attend each Sabbath. Yes, Satan has been at work in our church but we also see God’s great blessings. We hear wonderful sermons about being prepared for Christ’s coming. My husband Peter is the original preacher left and he preaches most of the sermons. He finds it difficult to find the time to prepare these as he holds down a full time job in the workforce.

There is much more I could write but time does not permit me to do this. I am so grateful that at long last other people can see the problem in Australia. We have seen the gradual change over years, of some of the visiting ministers, as apostasy deepens in the SDA church. They seem to understand our position and we are not now dismissed as “offshoots.” We are very grateful of the support of Russell Standish, Tom Turner and O.K. Anderson.

Thank you for your magazine. I enjoy the articles and appreciate the effort that goes into these.

May God continue to bless you,
Name Withheld