Why I Left the Church ...


[1hr, 11min / 52min, 16sec]


A number of questions have been raised regarding both the January and the February San Diego Chapter, Association of Adventist Forums, meetings. Some have questioned whether it is prudent, even expedient, to advertise that some people leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church. "What good could possibly come from such a session?" is not an uncommon question!

Several years ago when such a meeting was suggested, this writer, too, wondered what might be the benefit of hearing from those who had chosen to separate from Adventism. It seemed to be a way of reinforcing, by public recognition, what some who had become disenchanted with the Harris Pine Mills happening, the Davenport affair, the White cover-up, the treatment of those who reached theological conclusions different from the traditional Adventist, or those who just had a beef with the system.

However, after hearing some of the research data, such as presented last month by Dr. Paul Landa, after hearing from some of those who might be identified as disenchanted, and after noting the valiant efforts put forth by the North American Division for a Rejoice with Me homecoming Sabbath last November 20, it just seemed self-evident that a public discussion featuring those who had left might be timely, informative, and thought provoking.

Undoubtedly, many could identify dozens who used to be Adventists! Undoubtedly, many have wondered just what would permit a thinking person to separate from the remnant church, after giving much serious thought to such a major decision.

Last month the San Diego Chapter had opportunity to hear the research findings based on more than two thousand completed questionnaires and/or personal interviews. This month's Forum meeting will allow attenders to hear first-hand and personally what permitted -- or encouraged -- people who used to sit in the same pews to choose no longer to be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


The following paragraphs will provide a bit of background for each of the panelists, listed in alphabetical order.

Stan Ermshar, M.D., is the son of devout SDA parents and grandson of Leo Halliwell, outstanding pioneer Adventist missionary on the Amazon. Stan was baptized into the SDA church at age eleven. He attended SDA schools, grade one through medical school, including Sierra View Junior Academy (Exeter, California), Modesto Union Academy, Pacific Union College, and Loma Linda University, including a three-year residency in internal medicine. He has been a member of Tulare, Ceres, and Loma Linda University churches. He currently attends the Covenant Presbyterian church in Orange, California, Presentations heard from Dr. Ron Numbers and Walter Rea while Stan was at med school challenged his Adventist roots. Though requesting that his membership be dropped from the University Church in 1985, he continues to be interested in events within Adventism.

Walter Fahlsing, M.D., was three years old when his mother was converted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church from a nominal Lutheran background. WaIt, like Stan, received virtually all of his education with the Seventh-day Adventist school system, earning his M.D. degree from Loma Linda University in 1956. He has been an active member of the old Broadway, Bonita Valley, and La Mesa churches, where he served in such capacities as deacon, elder, and Sabbath School teacher, his most enjoyable position. Dr. Fahlsing has been a part of the Association of Adventist Forums since its inception. He is past president of the San Diego Chapter. After much serious thought and study, he resigned from his long-time church affiliation in 1983. Today he considers himself a generic Christian with confidence in his faith in Jesus -- Nothing less, nothing more, nothing else!

Clela Fuller was born into a Seventh-day Adventist home. She, too, received most of her education in Adventist schools completing Pre-nursing at La Sierra College and receiving her RN from Loma Linda and White Memorial Hospital. As the wife of an SDA medical missionary, she spent six years in East Africa and two years in Trinidad. While in Somalia, where she and her husband were the only Seventh-day Adventists in the country, she worked for the U. S. State Department! For almost twenty years she served in Nursing Administration at Paradise Valley Hospital. As teacher, youth leader, Dorcas leader, Sabbath School Superintendent, Home and School Leader, or treasurer, she was an actively involved member of North Park, Paradise Valley, Bonita, Chula Vista, and Lakeside Adventist churches. She discontinued church attendance in 1989. In 1990 she requested that her name be removed from church membership.

Garlyn “Eve” Spurlock, as the daughter of a third generation Adventist father who was pastor and conference evangelist, moved about often from one SDA school to another. Grades three through eight she completed through the good old Home Study Institute (her words). She was baptized at eight by her father. After completing Cedar Lake Academy (Michigan) in three years, Eve went to Union College, since her father was at that time evangelist in the Central Union. She felt displaced, knowing no one at the college. During her freshman year she met Jere Webb (now pastor of North Coast Christian Fellowship). They married the following September. For the seventeen years she served as a dedicated pastor's wife. During three of these years she home-taught her children as the family moved about holding evangelistic meetings while living in a motor home. She notes that it was not her intention to leave the church when separating from Jere Webb, merely take a sabbatical for a few months.

Bernie Wethington received his education primarily in non-SDA schools. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Theology degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Social Science from Pacific Union College. He then went on to Andrews University where he earned a Master's degree in Religion and in New Testament. Introduced to Adventism in rather curious and coincidental ways, he and his wife, Patty, were baptized in 1975 after a series of Bible studies. Then, it was on to Pacific Union College where they experienced culture shock as well-meaning friends pointed out improper foods in their cupboards and chastised these neophyte Adventists for including mustard in the deviled eggs brought to potluck! Bernie has served in pastoral roles at the North Park (San Diego), Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Lakeside SDA churches. He currently pastors the San Diego Seventh-day Baptist Church and remains active in several community organizations.

Mic Thurber, panel moderator, is himself a product of the Seventh-day Adventist educational system, receiving his Bachelor's degree from Southern College (Collegedale, TN) in Religion with a minor in Music. He taught Bible and music at Sunnydale Academy (Centralia, MO) and at Mt. Pisgah Academy (Candler, NC). He has served in pastoral roles in the North Park (San Diego), Tierrasanta (San Diego), and Calimesa (California) churches. Since last year he has been Ministerial and Communications Director for the South Eastern California Conference. His avocational interests include music (arranging, recording, and conducting), photography, computer programming, and reading. His Church Ministry Directory computer software has greatly assisted many pastors and church clerks in their data management. He is perceived by many as a pastor’s pastor!

Donate to SDAF


San Diego Adventist Forum
PO Box 421320
San Diego, CA 92142

We invite and appreciate your feedback regarding any of our programs or services.

Shopping cart

There are no products in your shopping cart.

0 Items $0.00