On November 6, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Greece v. Galloway, which tested the constitutionality of prayer as a component of government meetings.
I do not know how and when Bali got the name "Island of Gods" but there could not be a better one. The island, of about four million people, is almost totally Hindu, in a country that has the largest Muslim population in the world. I visited there a few weeks ago and was entranced by the things that I saw.
This huge god is one of the two that guard the main entrance of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center.
Many from Bali identify first as Balinese before being Indonesian. There is a lot to Balinese culture: food, clothing, religion, art.
Seventh-Gay Adventists: A Film About Faith on the Margins is now available Online to anyone with an internet connection, its makers announced. Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer, the couple who created and produced the film, have released it digitally on their website just in advance of the Holiday Season. It can be streamed from the site, and DVD and Blu-ray copies will be shipping on December 10, Akers said in an email notification to the film's followers.
Bringing together Adventist academics and church administrators for the Summit on Nurture and Retention produced a fascinating mix of presentations and conversations. With recent membership surveys in nine of the world divisions, there was data to inform program reports. Graduate student Katelyn Ruiz talked about nonverbal behavior in a case study of the welcoming program at a local church.
It was just so ironic. At the summit called to address why the Seventh-day Adventist church is losing one-third of its members out the back door, the one presenter who is known to be gay was disinvited at the last minute. And while he was told he was welcome to attend, he could not present his paper which had nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality. It was not because he is gay that he could not present, he was assured, but “because of the views you have publicly espoused on this subject."
With one third of baptized Seventh-day Adventist church members slipping out the back door, officials at the General Conference have decided it is time to address the issue in a major way. To do so, academic researchers and church administrators are meeting this week in Silver Spring to discuss the data and suggest a strategy to reverse the trend during the “Summit on Nurture and Retention, 2013: Discipling, Retaining, and Reclaiming”.
Last week the Spanish Union of Seventh-day Adventists (UAE in Spanish) urged all its pastors, union board members, institutional leaders
directors and administrative staff, and all local church boards to meet UAE leadership in one of several planned meetings to discuss new, sweeping austerity measures. The meetings, to be held at locations throughout Spain, began Tuesday, November 19 in Madrid and Sagunto, and conclude Sunday, November 24 in Málaga and Sevilla.
In a unanimous vote, the Trans-European Division Executive Committee affirmed the 730-page Theology of Ordination report from the division's ad hoc Biblical Research Committee. Chief among the committee's recommendations was that "the Church should allow for an inclusive and gender-neutral ministry, which means that credentials will be granted to men and women on equal terms for all offices which require ordination, presently the gospel minister, the elder, and the deacon/deaconess."
In our quest to highlight the documents researched, written and presented by the different division’s Theology of Ordination Study Committees, we bring you this week excerpts from two reports on the issue of headship.
A third division has voted to recommend that the General Conference not discriminate by gender when ordaining pastors. The South Pacific Division vote, taken during year-end meetings held in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia, follows similar votes taken by the Inter-European Division and the North American Division. Kent Kingston wrote this story for the Record:
A second division has voted to recommend that Adventist women pastors be ordained. In its recent annual meeting, the executive committee members from the 11 conferences (12 European countries) that make up the Inter-European Division (EUD) voted unanimously to recommend the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, taking into consideration the possibility of applying it according to the needs of the fields. There were no abstentions.
In the Philippines, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing more quickly than anywhere else in the world, according to a report at the recent Annual Council. 80,000 baptisms have been recorded since 2011, and there are more than 700,000 Adventist church members there, as well as several colleges and universities, a publishing house, and a medical center.
Amidst the avalanche of material that has been written on women’s ordination in the past several years, the North American Division Report presented this past week distinguishes itself as a comprehensive document that covers all the important aspects of the topic, includes material from multiple viewpoints and presents a way forward for the church.
Lawrence Geraty, Adventist Forum Board Member, recently offered to help a small group of volunteers write thank you notes to people who have generously supported Spectrum in the past. Here’s his account of how one thing led to another as well as a reminder of the gift and magic of friendship. Names of the friends have been changed to protect their privacy.
Seventh-day Adventist world church president Ted N. C. Wilson published this piece in the online Huffington Post yesterday. The article sets the Adventist church apart from "some religious groups in America" that "have repeatedly sought to influence various sectors of government to enshrine particular principles." It cites examples of how Adventists have been on the side of religious liberty since our church's founding 150 years ago.