'If I Ever Decide to Become a Member...'

"If I ever decide to become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church, Pastor, you are the one I will want to talk to, OK?"

These words were spoken 20 years ago by Warren Jeffries to Gary Ellis, Chehalis (Wash.) Church pastor. Jeffries recently called Ellis, who is now retired, reminded him of the story and asked for a pastoral visit. Ellis called Chester Schurch, the current Chehalis Church pastor, and together they visited Jeffries, and his wife Carolyn, in their home near Onalaska, Wash. While visiting they discovered that the Holy Spirit has been working in the Jeffries’ life during the past 20 years, and they were recently convicted that they should become members of the Adventist church.

There were challenges: Jeffries' health keeps him housebound and on oxygen. Jeffries' has never been baptized before, though his wife had been many years ago. Their question was, "Does Warren have to be immersed to become a member of the Chehalis Church?" The pastors reassured him that although baptism by immersion is the general practice in the Adventist church for someone desiring membership, the Bible provides examples of situations, such as the thief on the cross, where traditional baptism was not possible.

The church board decided to accept Warren and Carolyn Jeffries into church membership by profession of faith. On Sabbath, July 7, the Jeffries’ picture was published in the bulletin, and during the church service Schurch told their story and then called the Jeffries’ via his cell phone. The Jeffries were able to state to the congregation via speaker phone their testimony of faith in Jesus as their Savior. The congregation gave a hearty "Amen" when the pastor asked who would like to accept them into membership.

The Chehalis Church is already blessed by these two new members, and will be finding ways to stay connected to them through regular visits in their home.

October 01, 2007 / Washington Conference