An Adventist Church in Australia Is Found Guilty of Breaching Workplace Health and Safety Laws — and More News Shorts

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Published:
August 29, 2019

In this week’s round-up, Samoan Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia is found guilty of breaching workplace health and safety laws after the death of a 14-year-old boy, Kenyan Adventist students are suspended for refusing to take exams on Saturday, Singapore SDA students host elderly for karaoke singalongs and games, after 112 years Washington Adventist Hospital moves out of Takoma Park, and the Andrews University community steps in after a devastating apartment fire in Berrien Springs.

Samoan Adventist Church Guilty of Breaching Workplace Health and Safety Laws. The Samoan Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church has been found guilty of breaching workplace health and safety laws, after a 14-year-old boy was killed at a volunteer fundraising event three years ago. Lotufou Sakaria was killed while volunteering for the Samoan Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, Australia, in 2016. He was one of 20 church members tree-lopping at a home at Bellbird Park to raise funds when he was struck by a falling 12 meter tree. Church leaders called the death a tragedy but pleaded not guilty, arguing they were not liable for the boy's death. The boy's mother Nuufou Foloi Sakaria said the verdict was important to prevent more deaths in the future. "They didn't do what they were supposed to do….There was no training." Pastor Jonathan Siofele represented the church in court. He said the church board would meet next week to make a decision as to whether to appeal against the guilty verdict. "We are just hoping there might be some closure to both sides," he said. "We are praying for the family and for the church community." From ABC, “Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist church liable over teenager's death at volunteer fundraiser.”

Kenyan Adventist Students Suspended for Refusing to Take Exams on Saturday. Five Seventh-day Adventist students from AIC Chebisaas Boys High School in Eldoret, Kenya, are facing court proceedings after they were suspended for allegedly refusing to sit for exams on a Saturday, July 6. The school management allegedly suspended them for failing to take the allocated exams on their Sabbath Day. They accused the school of infringing on their religious rights. Eldoret High Court Judge Stephen Githinji directed that the suspended students be allowed back to school for Third Term in September pending hearing and determination of the case. Article 32(2) of the Constitution stipulates the following: “Every person has the right, either individually or in community with others, in public or in private, to manifest any religion or belief through worship, practice, teaching or observance, including observance of a day of worship.” Part 4 of the article further notes that “a person shall not be compelled to act or engage in any act, that is contrary to the person’s belief or religion.” From Citizen TV, “SDA students suspended for refusing to sit exams on a Saturday.”

Singapore SDA Students Host Elderly for Karaoke Singalongs and Games. Ninety elderly beneficiaries joined the students in their classrooms at the San Yu Adventist School in Novena, Singapore, to take part in karaoke singalongs and retro games. The event, known as “Pay It Forward” and now in its eighth year, was organized by SYAS in conjunction with Seventh-day Adventist Chinese Church and Adventist Community Services. This year's theme, “Remembering The Good Ol' Days,” was a nostalgic celebration of the past, with attendees playing old-fashioned childhood games such as “Snakes And Ladders” and “Ludo.” Many seniors were especially animated in the karaoke room, where they sang classic Teresa Teng tunes together. Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, who was the guest of honor at the event, handed out $60 vouchers as well as goodie bags worth up to $30 each to the seniors. From The Straits Times, “Songs and games for elderly beneficiaries.”

Washington Adventist Hospital Moves Out of Takoma Park. Washington Adventist Hospital is moving from its birthplace in Takoma Park to a $400 million campus in White Oak on Sunday, ending more than a decade of protracted, sometimes contentious negotiations about the future of the 112-year-old institution. “The county and state are very excited for it, but for us here, it’s a loss,” Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart said. “You can hear about something for years, but you don’t believe it till you see it,” added Suzanne Ludlow, the city manager. “Now it’s happening, and good or bad, we’re all going to be affected.” The White Oak facility is more than twice as large as the one in Takoma Park, with 180 private rooms. More important, state regulators say, the new facility provides easier access to patients not just in Montgomery County, but also in neighboring Prince George’s County, which has been plagued for years by a shortage of high-quality health care. From The Washington Post, “After 112 years, Takoma Park’s Washington Adventist Hospital departs for White Oak.”

Andrews University and Berrien Springs Community Steps in After Devastating Apartment Fire. Andrews University student Jeremy Barrett planned to fully move into the Berrien Springs apartment he shared with his sister Sunday morning. That changed Saturday night when he learned that his apartment was among 12 destroyed by fire at Park Manor Apartments in Berrien Springs. He said he was leaving a movie with his girlfriend in Grand Rapids when he heard the news. “I had everything packed, ready to go,” he said Monday while talking with staff at Neighbor To Neighbor in Berrien Springs, a nonprofit that’s helping the people who lost their homes. “... We got out of the movie and my girlfriend was on Facebook and she saw a post and said, ‘Is that your apartment?’”

Barrett said Andrews University is letting them stay in guest housing for a week or so until they find a new place to live, which he is very grateful for. “The community is bending over backwards to help these people,” said Tom Westgate, who works with his wife, Mary Westgate, out of the Stevensville office of the American Red Cross. He said everyone left homeless by the fire had a place to stay Saturday night with friends, family or church members. “If every community was like this, that’d be great,” he said.

Three families with young children who were burned out of their homes received immediate help from the Crayon Box Children’s Learning Center in Berrien Springs [located on the campus of Andrews University], thanks to one of the center’s assistant teachers, Becky Vajdic of Berrien Springs. She said the center donated diapers, wipes and pull-ups to those families the evening of the fire. When contacted by phone Sunday, Vajdic said she has continued to coordinate efforts to get immediate supplies to these three families. “People are stepping up in incredible ways,” she said.

Andrews University sent an email to staff and students saying those affected by the fire can call Campus Safety at 471-3321 to get help. “Campus Safety will work directly with the vice president for Campus & Student Life and her team to address the needs of our students and employees involved,” the email stated. “... If you wish to assist with a cash donation, please go to www.andrews.edu/go/give/, use the dropdown menu under ‘I want to invest in,’ and select (or search for) “Other.” Once you’ve selected that, insert “Park Manor Fire Victims” in the “My Instructions” field, and provide your applicable donation information in the subsequent fields.” From The Herald Palladium, “Community stepping up to help Berrien Springs fire victims” and “'There's nothing left'.”

 

Please note: Spectrum news round-ups are an aggregation of regional, national, and international publications around the world that have reported on stories about Adventists. As such, the accuracy of the information is the responsibility of the original publishers, which are noted and hyperlinked at the end of each excerpt.

 

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 Yucaipa, California.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

 

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