The early history of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Adventist Forums (AAF) is a bit fuzzy (not unlike earth’s beginning), but it was apparently organized in the late 1970’s at a time of great upheaval in the SDA church in North America. As far as can be determined, Walt Fahlsing served as the first president until 1982 when Les Palinka took the reins for a year. Meeting venues over the past 30-plus years have included San Diego Academy, Paradise Valley SDA Church, Scottish Rite Temple, Lakeside SDA Church and the Tierrasanta SDA church (since 1996).
During Walt’s leadership, Jim Kaatz started tape recording the meetings and also volunteered to write and distribute a newsletter to better inform members of upcoming chapter meetings. Jim became the president in 1983 and for the next 27 years, he and his super dedicated wife Averille, successfully morphed the San Diego Chapter into one of the best known and influential of all AAF Chapters (other chapters have consulted us regarding chapter organization and development). During their tenure the board was enlarged, an international audio tape “ministry” was developed and the circulation of the 10-issue-per-year newsletter grew. Jim not only scheduled over 250 local Forum meetings but he made sure they were all recorded (except for one meeting when a tape recorder malfunctioned) and they remain available for purchase—a significant source of data for interested persons as well as church historians. Largely from income derived from tape (and more recently compact disc) sales, the San Diego chapter has contributed nearly $100,000 to the AAF, the magazine Adventist Today and our current host church,. The San Diego Chapter of the Association of Adventist Forums has enjoyed the sisterhood of AAF Chapters for decades but changed its name to San Diego Adventist Forum (SDAF) in 2004 after AAF re-named itself Adventist Forum.
The ten regular annual SDAF meetings have been designed primarily for progressive, open-minded SDAs of the Southwest corner of these United States. However, SDAF appears to have at least five partially overlapping audiences: about 300 dues-paying members, those who attend the regular meetings and/or annual retreats, the approximately 250 with annual subscriptions to meeting recordings, those that order recordings of individual meetings and the nearly 1600 “subscribers” to the SDAF Newsletter. Additionally, there is no way of determining how many more people listen to the meetings by borrowing or duplicating subscriber’s tapes and CDs. The number of annual subscriptions and individual tape/CD orders from around the world attest to the broad interest in the topics and speakers by like-minded (so-called “forum-type”) persons seeking answers to often difficult questions about their church and related topics. So...SDAF happily continues to provide quality programming for our international community.
At the November 2009 biennial SDAF board meeting, Jim Kaatz announced that he was stepping down as president, effective June 30, 2010. Even though similar prior attempts had not produced tangible results, at that meeting Jim also appointed yet another Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of SDAF.
At the next meeting of the SDAF Board on January 22, 2010, Gary McCary, SDAF Secretary and Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, presented the committee’s two primary recommendations with a goal of attracting a younger and more substantial attendance at SDAF meetings: that SDAF experimentally hold its regular meetings at 10 a.m. rather than 3 p.m. (with the discussion period postponed until after lunch) and experimentally schedule quarterly meetings rather than ten meetings a year. The Board voted these recommendations but the committee had not been able to find a replacement for Jim.
Having served on the Board of Directors for over 20 years and having initiated and helped carry out some of SDAF’s most ambitious undertakings (such as organizing and hosting the first revival of AAF National Conferences in 1996 and starting the SDAF Annual Retreats in 1997), Gordon Rick was not willing to see the chapter collapse for lack of a leader. When it became apparent during the January board meeting that no one had been identified to fill Jim’s soon-to-be-vacant office, Gordon offered to investigate whether a team of volunteers could be identified and recruited to take over the responsibilities that Jim and Averille have been carrying so faithfully for the past twenty-seven years.
At the April 22, 2010 meeting of the SDAF Board, Gordon reported that most of his invitations for volunteers to serve in a variety of positions had been successful but that in the future SDAF would likely need to begin contracting to have some of its services performed. The Board then voted unanimously, for Gordon to fill Jim’s term of office (from July until August 30, 2010) and help coordinate the transition to a new era for SDAF. In view of Gordon’s current personal life situation, on the brink of retirement and facing multiple major decisions, including possible relocation (after 40+ years as a missionary to Southern California from Canada!), he hesitantly accepted. He agreed to help guide SDAF through this important transition for the sake of this leading “chapter,” for the sake of AF, for the sake of the church and primarily for the sake of honestly questioning church members and friends around the world who find our presentations helpful. The Board then switched into its triennial nominating committee mode and developed a slate of officers that were subsequently elected to office through 2013. Gordon is most grateful to all who have expressed willingness to serve SDAF in either official or unofficial capacities and will happily relinquish his responsibilities as soon as a longer term successor is identified or comes forward.
What will the SDAF of the future be like? That’s up to us, collectively...what would you prefer? What can SDAF do to become even more meaningful for you?
In the meantime, to prepare for a bright and stable future, SDAF has accomplished the following since July 1, 2010:
speakers and topics of international interest have been scheduled and presented
the headquarters was relocated from the Kaatz residence to an office space at our host church, Tierrasanta SDA, where our new computer, printer, tape & CD duplicating equipment and the archives are located
the newsletter is primarily circulated by email without charge
a new email address (email@example.com)
a new post office box close to our new office (PO Box 421320, San Diego, CA 92142)
a new website (www.sandiegoadventistforum) that will serve as a free model for other chapters and allow processing of new and renewal memberships and subscriptions as well as contributions online
the nearly 300 presentations in the archives (1981 - 2012) have been digitized so they may be downloaded immediately from the webstore and the pre-2007 meetings also may be ordered in CD format rather than only as audiocassette tapes
SDAF desires your feedback regarding any of our programs and services—please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to remain anonymous, mail them to SDAF, PO Box 421320, San Diego, CA 92142.
Thank you for your interest in SDAF and for your generous support!