Kenyan Government Intervenes in Adventist Leadership Dispute. An Adventist leadership dispute has arisen in Kenya. The Registrar of Societies has intervened after the agency was informed that some church officials may not be legally recognized. In 2012, the SDA Church East Africa Union was reorganized into the Kenya Union Mission which further split into East Kenya Union Conference and West Kenya Union Conference, and the two conducted their respective elections in September 2015. Contention arose when Mose Nyambega & Company Advocates representing Geoffrey Asanyo, an elder in the church, reported to the Registrar of Societies that some officials were planning to hold a special general meeting on September 20 in Nairobi. Asanyo sought to know whether the officials were recognized by the law. On November 17, the registrar declared that all current officials were in office illegally. “We have observed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church East Africa Union does not have office bearers and is in contravention of its constitution,” wrote the registrar. The church was directed to hold elections within 60 days and amend its constitution. On November 21, the church called for a special general meeting on December 6, but on November 29, Asanyo wrote to the registrar discrediting the meeting which has now been postponed. From Daily Nation, “Infighting threatens to tear Seventh-day Adventist Church apart.”
Adventist Health System Retirement Plan Challenge to Be Heard by U. S. Supreme Court. Adventist Health System has been sued in a class-action lawsuit in Florida federal court by plaintiffs who claim that their retirement plan was underfunded by $134 million and that the company is a business, not a church and should be required to meet the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requirements. In response, Adventist Health System has argued that it is church-related and, therefore, does not have to comply with ERISA because it is religious and that even if it did have to comply, the pensions are adequately funded. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this and two other cases involving whether the pension plans of religiously affiliated hospital systems are exempt from federal pension funding requirements. From ReligiousLiberty.TV, “Supreme Court to decide if religious hospital pensions are subject to ERISA.”
Northwest Congregants Present Realistic Christmas Setting and Story. The Hermiston, Oregon, and the Yakima, Washington, Seventh-day Adventist Churches both have created their eighth-annual "Journey to Bethlehem" pageant productions. The free productions bring the story of the birth of Jesus Christ to life by recreating the town of Bethlehem in walk-through, interactive sets. Visitors meet costumed characters and view live animals in the 20-30 minute guided tour. "It's so real; it's so live. There are 21 sets. We have a live camel, live animals, and again it's just an amazing experience unlike anything else in the community," said Yakima church member Margo Duke. Jo Ann Rincker, a Hermiston member who has been involved with the project from its 2008 beginning, said, “To me, this is the real meaning of Christmas. There are some people out there who have never heard the story, so I think it’s important to be told.” From Germiston Herald, “Authentic village offers ‘Journey to Bethlehem’” and from KIMA TV, “A local church provides an interactive 'Journey to Bethlehem'.”
Saipan Adventist Students Remove Trash from Beaches to Protect Coral. A group of nearly 70 students and adults from Saipan Seventh-day Adventist School braved the rain to clean up the beaches of Saipan. The project was originally chosen and presented by the SDA School Lego Robotics team as a basis for its research project. This year’s challenge is to choose an animal that humans have had some manner of interaction with and work to make that interaction better. The team chose coral as the subject of its research and is working to remove trash from beaches as a step toward protecting the coral's environment. The team is also striving to introduce a new technology to the waters of Saipan that will help regrow damaged coral reefs. From Marianas Variety, “SDA conducts beach cleanup.”
Big Hearts for Little Hearts Provides Cheer to Hospitalized Children. Big Hearts for Little Hearts Loma Linda Guild held a holiday event in the lobby of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, including performances from local groups, photos with Santa Claus, and toy, book, and teddy bear giveaways. The event cheered hospitalized children and their families, even if for just a few minutes. A teddy bear drive at Alta Vista Credit Union locations helped bring in 3,800 bears for the cause. “Our goal was 1,500,” said Dixie Watkins, chapter founder and current president of the guild. “We found that serving others is one of the greatest ways to find happiness,and there’s nothing more important than helping a sick child. It’s very meaningful for us to be here.” From Redlands Daily Facts, “Lifting Spirits for the Holidays.”
LLUMC to Open Indio Pediatric Clinic. Loma Linda University Medical Center held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new pediatric clinic in downtown Indio. It will be able to handle up to 60,000 patient visits a year and provide pediatric specialty services like pulmonology, neurology, cardiology and endocrinology. “This is a game changer,“ said Representative Raul Ruiz, whose district includes the valley. Only a handful of pediatric specialists serve the area’s roughly 135,000 children. The need is greatest on the eastern side of the Coachella Valley, home to a large concentration of immigrant laborers who work farms up and down the state. More than 80 percent of the students there require government meal assistance. Officials hope to open its doors by the end of 2017. From New York Times, “California Today: A Clinic for Children Is Planned for the Desert.”
Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Redlands, California.
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