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A local paper in the Shenandoah Valley reports:
Frozen gravy, boxed stuffing and whole turkeys seemed to fly out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Tuesday as volunteers continued their annual holiday food distribution.
In just two hours, the church's volunteers cleared 127 turkeys, about 300 apples and more than 500 pounds of canned fruits and vegetables from the building, their largest distribution ever.
"I've been a volunteer here for three years, and I've never seen a church that's done more for this community than Seventh-day Adventist church," said volunteer Tom Finch.
Pastor Tara VinCross joins the Adventist Environmental Advocacy team. She talks about how her church implements creation care.
The most recent way of incorporating environmental stewardship took place as we were finishing up our nomination/election process of church leaders. As a committee we decided to commission a "Green Team" for our church, a group of individuals dedicated two goals: 1) to bringing our church behavior in line with our beliefs about Christian stewardship of the environment and 2) to educating our members about the action steps they can take in their own homes. We are beginning the process of increasing understanding in our church community, and I know it will continue to unfold in the coming years.
I also speak to care for people and planet in my sermons, and in our own lifestyle choices, which leads people to ask questions about why we do what we do. Every time I turn down a plastic bag in a store, there is an opportunity to answer the question, "why?" In fact, just the other week, I commented to a church member how great it was to see them using a reusable water container instead of plastic bottles. "I got it from you!" they exclaimed. Apparently, they had seen me carrying around my water container and they thought, hey, I can do that too. You never know what is going to spread and change in the church! Another church member is also passionate about environmental stewardship, and as the leader for fellowship meals, makes sure that we do not buy any Styrofoam products for our potluck buffet meals. Each of these decisions fosters a spirit of care and awareness for all that God has made.
Speaking of buildings, an Adventist congregation in Maryland wins a lawsuit over religious discrimination in Prince George's County.
Oakwood University hosts Jan Paulsen, an AME pastor and 1000 ministers for evangelism conference.
Speaking of Oakwood, someone blogs a very brief history of Little Richard, an alum.
In Maryland, the Washington Post reports: Adventist HealthCare and the Catholic Holy Cross Hospital battle over hospital building plans.
The global AIDS pandemic usually escapes mention in Adventist congregations. Perhaps in part because Adventists shy away from discussion of sexuality and sexually-transmitted diseases, or perhaps because affluent churches in North America and Europe do not feel the effects of AIDS first hand, Adventists often overlook HIV/AIDS.
One Southern California church hopes to change that.
In commemoration of World AIDS Day, the Kansas Avenue Adventist Church , together with the Grove Community Church in Riverside, California, hosted two days of AIDS awareness and prevention.
On Saturday, November 29, Jeanne White-Ginder spoke in the Kansas Avenue church about her son, Ryan White, who died of AIDS. In 1984, Ryan’s struggle for acceptance and fair treatment made national headlines after Western Middle School (Russiaville, Indiana) barred him from attending. A lengthy legal battle eventually resulted in Congress passing the Ryan White CARE Act four months after Ryan’s death.
Saturday morning, Ryan’s mother shared stories and a video of Ryan, inspiring the nearly 120 attendees. A reporter from the Press-Enterprise attended Saturday's gathering and writes:
"Our life drastically changed overnight," White-Ginder said.
Classmates, parents and teachers did not want Ryan in their school. He and his mother fought to get him back in a school where he was not welcome.
People attending the summit watched a videotape that showed anti-Ryan protesters and included an interview with Ryan shot a year before his death in 1990. He did not blame the people for their reaction to the disease.
Read the full story.
On Monday (Dec. 1) Kansas Avenue observed World AIDS day with guest speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions. In meetings from 9:00AM to 4:00 PM, health care professionals, clinical counselors, public health officials and clergy discussed AIDS and its impact on communities in Southern California.
Dr. Sharon Rabb, an educator, clinical psychologist, and licensed marriage, family therapist, shared a presentation titled “Breaking the Silence.” Dr. Rabb addressed the shame and stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, urging openness and public discussion. Noting that shame prevents people infected with AIDS from speaking out, Rabb said people must get help, not try to go it alone.
Dr. Ann Dew, a public health and preventative medicine expert, described the impact of AIDS on California communities. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in Southern California rank among the nation’s highest in incidences of AIDS. Treatment of AIDS costs $10 million annually in those counties alone. Dr. Dew noted that HIV impacts African American and Latino communities disproportionately.
A panel discussion of pastors, physicians, and mental health professionals addressed the psychological issues that accompany AIDS, how to stop the AIDS pandemic, and how the community can help. The liveliest moments of discussion revolved around the question of whether abstinence or "safe sex" (i.e. using condoms) ought to be taught.
Afternoon breakout sessions featured three topics: HIV/AIDS 101, an informational presentation; Helping AIDS Survivors Heal, a look at the psychological aspects of AIDS care; and Mark McKay’s discussion of AIDS and death from a mortician’s perspective.
Bill Howe, who helped organize the AIDS Day activities on Saturday and Monday, notes that the Kansas Avenue Church has led Southern California’s Adventist communities in AIDS awareness and prevention for twelve years. In 1996 following the death of three church members, Kansas Avenue pastor Jesse Williams saw the need to address the disease as a congregation. Dozens of parishioners responded to the call for an AIDS ministry.
The result, Howe says, has been over a decade of advocacy and care for AIDS patients. The Church participates in and sponsors an annual AIDS walk fundraising event, provides a support group and resources for victims of HIV/AIDS, and hosts forums to raise awareness among Adventists.
Noting a smaller turnout than expected Monday, Bill Howe wonders why more Adventists have not taken up this cause. The church, he feels, should be at the forefront.
The Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA) provides one step toward broader Adventist involvement. The Adventist News Network reports that ADRA commemorated World AIDS Day by providing an informative packet with statistics on AIDS, testimonies from people suffering from HIV/AIDS, informational posters, bulletin and magazine inserts and much more.
ADRA works in countries around the world to stop the spread of AIDS and invites Adventist participation.
Learn more about ADRA’s initiatives to fight AIDS and find out how you can participate at: http://www.adra.org/site/PageServer?pagename=work_aids_resources
UPDATE: See this morning's GC statement in the comments.
I'm surprised that the Adventist Church has not issued an official statement clarifying the current church standing and Adventist history of the the Congo warlord Laurent Nkunda.
Since Spectrum reported on the Associated Press piece, documentary, and the earlier New York Times item on November 11, hundreds of articles have been published about Gen. Nkunda. They invariably connect him to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The Center for Research on Globalization writes:
Nkunda is a long-standing henchman of Rwandan President, US-trained Kagame. All signs point to a heavy, if covert, USA role in the latest Congo killings by Nkunda’s men. Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.
Now that's just great.
Just on a messaging note, it might be nice to have official word as to Nkunda's history and current relationship to the church in these news stories. Before we blow millions of dollars sending out "Cosmic Conflict" and "Revelation Offers Hope" mailers during this coming year of Evangelism, we might take advantage of this inexpensive opportunity to clarify our ethics and pastoral image.
Is he a member? Did he attend Adventist schools? Did he really do evangelistic work for the denomination? Is or was he ever a Seventh-day Adventist pastor?
I mean seriously. This guy is a convicted war criminal (2005) and is under investigation by the ICC and yet for awhile now he has been able to claim not just Adventist membership but uncontested pastoral authority in the world media.
Recently The American Spectator wrote:
Organizing a few thousand ethnically aligned soldiers and convincing them of the legitimacy of their complaints has long been the path to political power in the Congo. Laurent Nkunda, former Congolese Army officer, teacher, psychology student, Seventh Day Adventist pastor, long-time fighter for the rights of the Watutsi is now the commanding general of a Tutsi rebel army of 4,000-6,000 in the northeastern Congo.
Dangerous bloggers like David Hamstra, Sherman Haywood Cox II and the Adventist Caricaturist have all had to remove "Adventist" from their work, but as far as I know there has been no official statement to the media regarding Gen. Nkunda's use of Adventist or pastor.
Is this Congolese war really that important? Is it worth the hassle of some official clarification and a press release?
In today's Guardian, Anna Husarska senior policy analyst at the International Rescue Committee writes:
A mortality survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and released earlier this year demonstrates that this conflict is the most deadly crisis since the second world war: an estimated 5.4m people have died as a consequence of the war and its lingering effects in the last decade. Today, a quarter of a million people are on the run, almost half of them on territory under rebel control and with almost no access to aid. They need food and shelter, clean water and latrines, medical care, and education. Women and girls need protection from sexual violence, which flares up when families are forcibly displaced.
I understand that if gayness was mixed in with the sexual violence toward women, lots more Adventist men would get all up in arms about this immorality; but perhaps we might recognize this as an appropriate, even morally warranted place for the Adventist voice. The central figure does claim to be one of us.
And just so that we're clear on the message about us that the world is getting these days, here today's Asia Times echoing the same story:
Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.
Why are we silent? Clarifying his Adventist and ministerial credentials as well as the non-combatant Adventist stand against martial violence is not only good PR for us, but it also undercuts some of the character authority that he's using to "religion-wash" this heinous conflict. Saying something is really, seriously, the least we could do.
UPDATE: See GC statement below.
During this month The Spectrum Website will be conducting a fund-raising campaign where we will be more explicit in explaining our financial needs and asking you for assistance. If visitation numbers alone were to equate with success we would certainly consider this a successful year: 140,000 visitors, 302,000 visits, 850,000 page views. And the readership growth curve is moving upward. For Adventist news and commentary oriented websites we presently are second behind the Adventist Review in page views. However, the reasons for this readership – while impossible to infer from raw numbers alone – we believe correlate to the value delivered here. Value to you, our readers and participants. And value we think most of you would like to see maintained and growing.
So, what do we judge that value to be comprised of?
First, and foremost, we want to provide a place where the difficult issues confronting Adventism can be examined, in a thoughtful, respectful but unflinching manner. There is far more diversity of thought within our church than many recognize or perhaps would even wish to admit. Some of those perspectives need to push the church toward change. Others need to ultimately be rejected as mistakes. But there needs to be a safe, open place for this dialog. And this is, practically speaking, nearly impossible to pursue within the communication vehicles of official Adventism. Not because the church, or those vehicles are somehow bad. But they serve a broad constituency that has other needs and sometimes a low tolerance for ‘pushing the envelope’. The Spectrum Website gives service to the church in ways analogous to how a free press serves its city and country.
Second, this website continually speaks to the intersection of Adventism and a broader world culture. We are not unique in this but where else would you go to find the quantity, range and depth of material that has been provided here in the past year? Some has been highly controversial, such as issues surrounding homosexuality, faith and science, and abortion. Others, while more theological, still speak to how an Adventist Christian thinks and lives within the wider culture. We’ve discussed, among others, the role of public evangelism, Open Theism, and God’s character.
Third, a major component of the website is to provide mechanism and opportunity for reader interaction – with the authors, and with each other. Sparks fly at times, to be sure. But there is also community that is alive and growing. Site editors are not always perfect arbitrators but have to provide and enforce a safe yet open environment. At times postings have had to be deleted and a few participants have even been banned. But mostly the level of discourse, while often passionate, is articulate, respectful and open to new ideas.
Finally, this website is free. You do not have to pay a subscription fee to obtain content. This has been a carefully considered decision at the Adventist Forum Board level. We recognize people have radically disparate economic capabilities and we do not wish to impose a monetary ‘firewall’. We are persuaded that this model is right for an internet presence, but of course it also means funding must be raised in other ways. In subsequent articles this month we will talk frankly and in-depth about expenses and future plans. We hope you value what is available here and will consider giving us your support. We truly need your contributions.
Chairman - Adventist Forum Revenue/Finance Committee
From Sojourners' Magazine, here's Rev Richard Twiss, Terry Leblanc and Raymond Aldred, Ph.D. talking about the revival of indigenous theology in North America.
Their discussion of Christianity (informed by Ricoeur and Gadamer) from their Native American perspective raises some significant questions about how we approach the early chapters in Genesis, the environment and acts of charity. These theologians reveal how context and all our particularities of identity can create deeper meaning for Christians.
Local Oregon paper notes Adventist help for the hungry.
“Irrespective of the religions, the HIV/AIDS challenge has to be tackled using the help of all partners whether Government, private, NGOs and religious bodies,” said Pastor Matthew Bediako, Secretary of the Seventh Day Adventist Church General Conference, on an official visit to Mauritius last week.
Bloomberg reports the growing unrest in the Congo:
“It was Tutsis who attacked us then and it’s Tutsis who are attacking us now,” he said.
Nkunda, who is also a Seventh-Day Adventist lay preacher, led his forces to within 10 kilometers of Goma by Oct. 29. His fighters overwhelmed Congo’s army despite the presence of over 5,000 United Nations peacekeepers in North Kivu. Nkunda, who said in the past that his National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, was essentially trying to protect his Tutsi minority, now speaks of the “total liberation” of Congo.
“I have national ambitions,” Nkunda, dressed in army fatigues and wielding a cane capped with a silver eagle’s head, said in a Nov. 13 interview near the border with Uganda. “Where we are is the safest in Congo. If we can do that, we are capable of doing it on a national level.”
New York-based Human Rights Watch and witnesses such as Sinamenye dispute Nkunda’s contention and say his soldiers executed tens of civilians in Kiwanja in November.