HOLLYWOOD, Calif. --- In a definite first for Adventist evangelists, Dr. Dwight K. Nelson is to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Andrews University-based Senior Pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church will take his place among over 2500 honorees who have been awarded stars by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce over the years.
While he is not the first evangelist to receive a star (Billy Graham was given a star in 1989), it is highly unusual for personalities outside of mainstream entertainment to be added to the Walk of Fame. An average of 200 names are nominated by fans each year with the chamber choosing about 20 to be added to the star walk.
"There are a lot of Adventists in Southern California and it looks like they were able to make a compelling case for Pastor Dwight," said La Sierra Professor of Mass Communications Brenda Perry. "To be fair, the man has pastored the most influential church in Adventism since 1986 and hosted Net '98, our most ambitious international evangelistic series to date. Nobody can touch him when it comes to sheer reach."
Some Adventists have expressed dismay at the news. "Why we are stooping to tar one of our most beloved speakers with the brush of Hollywood celebrity is beyond me," said Matilda Teerfule of Boring, Ore. "We should be above these kinds of stunts."
Others see the star as a fitting recognition for one of the church's most effective communicators. "Pastor Dwight humanizes Adventism," said Andrews Communications Professor Julio Suarez. "He has been able to reach millions of people over the years with a smiling, relatable brand of Adventism. He has helped shed our public image which has often been tied up in doomsday religion and scary beast pictures."
Although Nelson himself is said to still be processing the news, he was asked to comment on the news in the parking lot of Pioneer Memorial Church this morning. "Someone should nominate Doug," is all he had to say.