Book review: We Stand on Their Shoulders

The cover of We Stand on Their Shoulders by Michael Campbell.

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We Stand on Their Shoulders
A Historical Legacy of Adventist Pastors
by Michael Campbell

Their names might not be familiar to us, but they were no less pioneers of our church and they reveal a broader diversity of Adventist Church than the familiar old photos of bearded men tend to show. In contrast to some voices who would diminish the role of pastors within Adventism, We Stand on Their Shoulders shows the different ways in which pastors have contributed to the growth, life and witness of the church, while upholding our belief in the “priesthood of all believers.”

Bookended by reflections on the historical development of the pastoral role, We Stand on Their Shoulders then shares brief surveys of the lives of nine Adventist pastors, including six that were presented by Dr George Knight at the Called convention for pastors in the North American Division last year. The pastors featured include Sara Ann Lindsey (the first woman issued ministerial credentials by the Adventist Church), Eri L Barr (an early African American pastor) and—of particular interest to those of us in the South Pacific—John Edwin Fulton, the pastor and missionary for whom Fulton Adventist University College is named.

Currently serving as director of Archives, Statistics and Research for the North American Division, author Dr Michael Campbell is becoming one of the Adventist Church’s most prolific current writers of church history. Although a quick read, We Stand on Their Shoulders shares previously untold stories, links them with the better-known pioneers and early leaders of Adventism, then draws out insights and perspectives on some of the issues and opportunities that our church still faces today. “The stories of early Adventist pioneers could very well be our own story because we have a God who works in the lives of ordinary people,” Dr Campbell concludes. “And when God does that, extraordinary things happen.”

We Stand on Their Shoulders urges that ministry is more important than ever. Some are called to pastoring as a full-time vocation, but all of us are called to minister. And the shape of that ministry will be as diverse as the people who take up this work—and must be for the health and mission of the church. 

We Stand on Their Shoulders and other books by Dr Michael Campbell are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

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