Adventists Play Down Millennium

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which has its roots in a failed prophecy about the Second Coming of Jesus, believes the start of a new millennium is no big deal.

"The year 2000 has no particular prophetic significance," the church said in a statement released this week, adding that it rejects "any speculation concerning its religious meaning."

Adventists "do not speculate about the precise historical moment" when Jesus will come again, as the New Testament promises, the document says. "However, we see each year that passes as bringing us closer" to that time.

"If anything is of significance about the future, it is the hope we, as Christians, have in the soon return of Christ," said Leo Ranzolin, the church's vice president.

"While others worry, we are a people who have and live out our Christian hope."

The statement was approved Wednesday by 330 members of the church's executive committee meeting at the World Church Headquarters in Silver Spring. The denomination has more than 10 million members worldwide, including 825,000 in the United States.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church grew out of a 19th-century movement that believed in the imminent Second Coming, or Advent, of Jesus. Adventist William Miller predicted that the Christian Messiah would return in March 1843.

Jesus's failure to reappear resulted in what historians call the "Great Disappointment."

-- Religion News Service

Jewish School for All Branches

A boarding school in North Carolina is being planned as the first in the country for high school students from the three major branches of Judaism.

Organizers say they have raised $40 million for the first phase of construction of the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, which will accommodate about 800 students.

There are Orthodox Jewish boarding schools around the country, but planners said the North Carolina academy will be the first to include Conservative and Reform branches.

The school, which organizers call pluralistic or liberal, will emphasize Jewish identity.

A group of Greensboro philanthropists began planning the school in 1996, and an anonymous donor provided 100 acres for the campus.

Architect Aaron Green of San Francisco, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, is designing the school, incorporating such touches as stone from Jerusalem.

Eight to 10 buildings will be constructed during the first phase, scheduled to begin in November.

-- Associated Press

Local Notes

* Alexander Malson, 12, member of the Boys Choir at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on K Street NW, has received the St. Nicholas Medal, the top award for young choristers given by the Royal School of Church Music in England. The award was based on tests given to boys attending the school's two-week summer program at Canterbury Cathedral. Alexander was the only American invited to attend.

* St. Mary Orthodox Church, a congregation in the Orthodox Church in America, will be consecrated next Saturday in a rare ceremony that dates to the Byzantine era. The host pastor, the Rev. Alexander F.C. Webster, said this is the only time everyone in attendance will be allowed to enter the altar area behind the iconostasis, the wall of icons and doors at the front of an Orthodox sanctuary. The area usually is open only to priests, altar boys and other male worship assistants. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. The church is at 7223 Roosevelt Ave, Falls Church. 703-356-0016.

* Fulton House of Hope for Women, a 25-room facility for women with drug problems, will open soon at Sixth and I streets NW. Gospel Rescue Ministries, a nondenominational ministry, transformed the once crime-infested Fulton Hotel with the assistance of the D.C. government and the Justice Department's Weed and Seed Program for inner-city renewal. Resident applications are being accepted: 202-842-1731.

Medieval Master

The carving "Saint George and the Dragon" and other religious works by German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider (1483-1531) go on exhibit tomorrow through Jan. 9 at the National Gallery of Art.