Orthodox Priest baptized in Coeur d'Alene Church

On Sabbath, Oct. 30, Athanasios-Paul Thompson, Orthodox priest, officially retired and was baptized at the Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) Adventist Church. This was a statement of commitment to both his faith in Christ and the Adventist message.

In November 2009, he and his wife, Mae, picked up a brochure for the Life Discovery series at his daughter's home in Sacramento, Calif. The two decided to check it out. After the first weekend, they cleared their schedules and traveled once a week from where they resided in Southern California. They didn't miss a session of the series conducted by Jim Reinking, Northwest evangelist, at the Orangevale (Calif.) Church.

As a high-ranking priest, Thompson, was one of five individuals who bore a ring from the Patriarch in Alexandria, Egypt, as a symbol of their special relationship. Thompson spent much of his ministry in the world of religious diplomacy. He often went on missions on behalf of the Patriarch and on occasion met with church leaders and heads of state. In 2000, he was one of 75 individuals who were present when Pope John Paul II and the Patriarch Shenouda III, met and embraced, removing the excommunications each side had from the time of the separation of Eastern Orthodox churches from the Roman Catholic Church.

Before becoming a priest, Thompson first learned of the Sabbath and about Adventism from a literature evangelist. Furthermore, he was a protégé of Walter Martin, an expert on the cults. For seven years he became an expert in his own right, defending Adventists against cult accusations and defending the biblical Sabbath. He reports there are some 200,000 Orthodox who keep Sabbath in the Middle East while also observing Sunday. On one occasion, he successfully defended Ethiopian Orthodox Sabbath-keepers who the local hierarchy had determined must cease from Sabbath observance. He has led priests, monks and some bishops in both the Orthodox and Catholic worlds to embrace the Sabbath.

As the Orangevale series progressed, Thompson became deeply convicted and made the decision to leave orthodoxy. He and Reinking spent many hours in conversation in the process. Leaving orthodoxy was very difficult, but he determined to follow his conscience. He now holds membership in the Northern California Conference. Jim Pedersen, Northern California Conference president, was of immeasurable help in Thompson's transition.

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