In this week’s news round-up, the Nairobi Central SDA Church seeks a court order to reopen, Michigan youth help the community, West and Central African Adventist women campaign to end violence, and two siblings from Washington state file a federal lawsuit to have tennis championship tournament accommodate their religious beliefs.
Nairobi Central Seventh-day Adventist Church to Seek Court Orders to Reopen Church. Controversy-ridden Nairobi Central Seventh-day Adventist church now plans to seek court orders to open one of its branches that was closed indefinitely by the State. Through the Central Kenya Conference (CKC) of the SDA, the church has accused the government of illegally locking out its worshipers from its premises. Officials of CKC claim that a rival faction of former elders were pulling strings within State security to enforce the closure. “We are concerned that the police action was skewed towards the aggressors. A person’s right of worship cannot be abridged by the threats of other parties,” said CKC president Pastor John Ngunyi Kiragu.
Addressing journalists at the church premises, Kiragu termed the closure of the church as unconstitutional, saying the State never served any notice or court order. “There was neither a court order nor a legal notice baring members from worshiping at the designated venue. Although we complied, the church takes exception to this unlawful act by State agencies who ordinarily are supposed to be the stewards and custodians of the law,” he said.
Kiragu, who was accompanied by CKC executive secretary Jeremy Marambii, treasurer Steve Kioko, Central SDA Church head pastor Jean Pierre Maiywa and several elders, hinted at moving to court if the church is not re-opened. “We will appeal to the machinery of justice. We have already notified our lawyers,” he said.
On Saturday evening, Nairobi Regional Commissioner Flora Mworoa directed that the church’s premises be closed until wrangling factions reconcile. “The church will only be re-opened for fellowship after the wrangling factions resolve their differences,” Mworoa told journalists at her Nyayo House offices.
However, yesterday, Kiragu and his team took exception with the administrator’s decision and denied claims there were wrangles in the church. “We want to categorically state that we do not have any leadership dispute among members. The purported dispute was with a third party, the Nairobi Cosmopolitan Conference Ltd (NCC) members, who had until the third of this month been doubling as members of the Nairobi Central SDA church and NCC,” Kiragu told journalists.
“The church is deeply concerned with the suspicious access to State security machinery by the aggressors which they use to curtail freedom of worship. We will seek appropriate intervention to ensure our religious liberties are respected and protected,” he said. The pastor, however, refused to comment on claims that the wrangles were linked to next year’s church elections, the politics of creating more stations and ethnicity.
“The issue of stations is an ongoing issue, and I will not comment about it. However, even the issue of tribal dominance is not genuine,” he said. According to Maiywa, 15 deregistered members will not be allowed back in the church.
From Standard Media, “SDA church readies for court battle with State,” from Pulse Live, “Popular Nairobi church closed indefinitely after worshippers clobbered pastor,” and from Citizen TV, “SDA church now dismisses allegations of leadership wrangles.”
Michigan Adventist Youth Tackle Community Improvement Projects. Members of "Youth of His Message," a Seventh-day Adventist youth group from Cadillac, Michigan, joined a 100-person strong effort in Detroit to tackle home improvement projects. But beyond hammers and nails and lawn debris, the volunteers had spiritual goals. "We can't show God's love through words," explained Samuel Girven, 12, a student at Northview Adventist School in Cadillac. "We have to show it through our actions."
"I'm really passionate about intergenerational ministry," said Chad Bernard, the youth director of the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Fundraising or donating $100 earned participants their volunteer slot. Adults with handyman skills were matched with a group of kids. For Samuel's project, another generation was looped-in: they helped an elderly woman whose garage had collapsed during a storm.
“That garage was gone in five or six hours,” Bernard said of the team Samuel served with. “They just attacked it.”
The "$100 Challenge" is an example of Fieldwork, a term the youth department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church uses to describe helping people in the community and showing the love of God, according to Bernard. The $100 Challenge that happened Sunday in Detroit was the first of its kind, with volunteers coming from around the state.
But it might not be the last. "This is an idea or a philosophy that can happen anywhere," Bernard said. “I would absolutely love to partner with people in any community to do this."
Samuel said he doesn't know when he'll volunteer again next, but typically volunteers a few times a year when the opportunity arises. "I feel good that we were able to help," he said. "We are all blessed to have people to help us."
From Cadillac News, “Youth group lends a hand in Detroit.”
West and Central African Women Adventists Campaign to End Violence. Women Adventists in the West and Central African Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have made a strong case for the society to rise up and campaign to end violence in all its forms. They argued that a society dominated by violence could not achieve any meaningful development and growth in the absence of peace and stability. “We have to keep talking to end it now,” Heather-Dawn Small, General Conference Director of the SDA Church, told congregants at the closing session of a congress of the West and Central African Division of the Church in Kumasi.
“Rape, forced marriage, abuse of the elderly, and child domestic violence, and institutional abuse are very common in our societies. That is a big problem!” Small pointed out that creating the needed awareness about violence was a necessity since it helped the society to be aware of its consequences for the right remedies to be applied.
According to the United Nations, approximately 15 million adolescent girls (aged 15-19) worldwide have experienced forced sex at some point in their lives.
The society, she said, owed it a duty to always work to protect the vulnerable and weak in order to make the world a safer place for all to live in. The congress which started from July 29 ending August 4, was organized under the auspices of the Women’s Ministry Department of the SDA Church and brought together women Adventists from 22 countries in the West-Central African Division of the Church.
Prior to the closing session, the participants staged a procession through the main streets of Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest and oldest city, holding placards with inscriptions that sought to end violence in the society. Led by the SDA General Conference Director, the women Adventists later presented a petition to Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, which had about 4,000 signatories. Omobonike Adeola Sessou, West-Central African Division Director in-charge of SDA Women’s Ministry, said the Church as part of the program, reached out to various health facilities in Kumasi, donating beds, chairs and Christian literature. They also planted trees in order to keep the environment clean and green.
From Ghana News Agency, “African Women Adventists campaign to end societal violence.”
Two SDA Siblings File Federal Lawsuit to Have Tennis Championship Tournaments Accommodate Their Religious Convictions. Two teen siblings filed a federal lawsuit claiming that their rights are being violated because the Washington state's high school tennis championship tournament continually includes scheduled play on Saturdays, their day of Sabbath. A complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association on behalf of Seventh-day Adventist siblings Joelle and Joseph Chung. The case was filed after Joelle was not able to compete in last year's Washington state tennis playoffs despite having an undefeated season because the championship tournament was scheduled to conclude on a Saturday.
“As a senior, it was hard giving everything I had to support my team all season, only to be forced to sit out the entire postseason simply because of my faith,” Joelle said in a statement. “I’ll never get the chance to play for a state championship again, but hopefully this case will protect other Seventh-day Adventists like my brother from having to choose between sports and their faith.”
While Joelle was forced to sit out during the championship tournament during her senior season, her brother faces the same possibility next school year as the boys' state championship tournament again includes Saturday play on the schedule. The family fears that without court intervention, Joseph, an incoming sophomore, will be disqualified from the tournament from the outset.
The lawsuit claims that the WIAA refused to accommodate the siblings' religious convictions when scheduling state high school championship tennis tournaments. Many other state championships take place entirely during the week, WIAA typically schedules the 2A boys’ and girls’ state tennis championship tournaments to conclude on a Saturday," the lawsuit reads. "As a result, Saturday Sabbath observers like J.G.C. and J.N.C. are prohibited from completing the state championship tournament, solely on account of their religious beliefs."
From Christian Post, “Adventist siblings sue after high school tennis championship scheduled on Sabbath.”
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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