As general manager K. W. Tilghman says with biblical precision, the Seventh Day Adventist church's printing plant is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The rock is a D.C. Air and Water Quality Control Bureau order to install air pollution control equipment for its newest printing presses.

The hard place is a D.C. Public Service Commission order limiting consumption of natural gas which is needed to run the pollution control equipment.

One branch of city government is telling the plant to control pollution, and another is denying it the resources to do so. Tilghman complained to the Public Service Commission yesterday.

He admitted that air pollution inspectors are "winking at us" because of the dilemma at the Adventist's printing company, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 6856 Eastern Ave. NW.

Tilghman urged the commission to allow additional gas use by customers in unusual circumstances, such as his.

The issue was raised at the first hearing on Washington Gas Light Co.'s request to begin adding new customers after a five-year moratorium.

George Tatum, superintendent for the Adventist printing operation said additonal natural gas is needed because other pollution control methods don't work.

District of Columbia air quality standards, he said, limit hydrocarbon emissions to three pounds per hour or 15 pounds per day. The plant sometimes exceeds that limit by 50 per centj.

The best seems to be a catalytic incinerator, Tatum said, but the sulfur in fuel oil ruins the $5,000 platinum catalyst so it doesn't work either. Burning gas in the low-temperature incinerator would solve the problem, he said.

Public Service Commissioner William Stratton suggested modifying present limits on gas consumption to provide an exemption for pollution control equipment.