The North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (NAD) sponsored a counternarrative writing conference on January 9 and 10, 2023, during the NAD’s Adventist Ministries Convention. Writers were encouraged to share narratives from the perspective of historically marginalized groups to counter traditional views, according to Christelle Agboka in a report for the NAD.
The conference’s aim, as per organizers Carl McRoy, NAD Literature Ministries director, Carmela Monk Crawford, Message Magazine editor, and Bettina Krause, Liberty magazine editor, was to “multiply and mentor more writers for the church’s written media.”
The first day concluded with a guided tour of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, the site of Woolworth’s lunch counter where on July 25, 1960, a youth-led sit-in launched a movement that helped end legalized racial segregation in the United States. The movement, and now the museum, highlights “individuals who challenged the dominant narrative, America standing for freedom and equality.”
“This museum is a testament to the power of counternarratives,” said McRoy.
Speakers included Kat Armas, writer, podcaster, and ThM candidate at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Timothy Golden, attorney, author, and Walla Walla University professor; and Pastor Ralph Peay, a 92-year-old ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister and civil rights activist.
Steven Norman, retiring Southern Union Conference Communication director and Southern Tidings editor, stated, “When I heard about the workshop, I was intrigued because I see us being called to write counternarratives on two levels. First, Proverbs 31:8-9 calls us to speak up for the marginalized. Then, Jesus commissioned us to speak truth in an era where Satan’s deceptions are prevalent.” He continued, “[Moving forward], I will study and use allegory more in my writing and speaking. Kat Armas’s presentation [also] reinforced my resolve to speak up for and with women.”
—From the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, “Site of Civil Rights Breakthrough Inspires North American Division Writing Conference Attendees to Effect Change.”
Birmingham Church Bombing Survivor Speaks at Pacific Union College
Pacific Union College students commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day at a special Community assembly on Thursday, January 12, listening to Sarah Collins Rudolph, who survived the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing.
On Sept. 15, 1963, four young men from an Alabama chapter of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device in the basement of that same church right near the ladies’ lounge, where five girls were getting ready to sing in the choir. At 10:22, it detonated.
“Four girls died in the blast: Denise McNair, 11, Cynthia Wesley, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Addie Mae Collins, 14. Only ‘the fifth girl’—as she is often referred to now—survived: 12-year-old Rudolph,” writes Laura Gang for Pacific Union College. The event is now referred to as “one of the darkest days in Civil Rights history.”
“[Rudolph] was badly injured but alive. After the horrific event, Life magazine published a photo of Rudolph lying in a hospital bed with bandages over both eyes. Rudolph’s left eye was eventually removed and replaced with a prosthetic, and doctors removed 26 shards of glass from her face. But worst of all, Rudolph told PUC students, was the realization that [her girlfriends] had died in a safe place—in church.
. . .
Rudolph told the students about Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. About the atrocious Jim Crow laws that prohibited nearly every interaction between black and white residents—even children playing together. About Gov. George Wallace declaring “segregation forever” in front of the state Capitol. About Public Safety Commissioner Bull Conner releasing dogs on a black youth at a demonstration. About Martin Luther King Jr. speaking and organizing nonviolent protests against racist state and federal laws.
—From Pacific Union College, “Survivor of 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing Shares Her Story with PUC Community.”
Fiji Seventh-day Adventist Church Conducts Clean-up Campaign
“More than 100 church leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church conducted a clean-up campaign recently throughout Sigatoka Town as part of a new climate-action commitment under the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Fiji’s Disaster Ready Churches Project, reports Pekai Kotoiuva in The Fiji Times.
“The clean-up campaign marked an end to a three-day stewardship and disaster risk-reduction (DRR) training.”
The program focused on disaster ready churches in climate action for church leaders in the Western Division—a joint collaboration between the Fiji Mission of the Seventh-Day Adventists and ADRA Fiji supported by the South Pacific Division.
“During the training, these leaders were training on disaster risk reduction and we discussed ways we can integrate climate change action in our communities to mitigate climate change risks,” said ADRA Fiji emergency coordinator Samisoni Loga.
“The clean-up campaign this morning was simply putting into action what they’ve learned and to ensure they become responsible citizens and contribute to the reduction of disaster risks through climate action.”
During the clean-up campaign, church leaders removed non-biodegradable waste such as plastics, bottles and aluminum products throughout town, including clean-up along the riverbanks, drains, gardens in support of the Sigatoka Town Council.
Following the clean-up campaign, a new action commitment by the local churches was signed between the Sigatoka Town Council, SDA Church and ADRA Fiji.
The agreement confirmed the church and ADRA Fiji’s commitment with the Sigatoka Town Council in support of the SDG 13 to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.”
—From The Fiji Times, “Clean-up Campaign Part of a New Climate Action Commitment.”
Alabama Adventist Church Provides Relief to Community After Disaster
Julia Avant, reporting for Channel 12 (WSFA), writes that Temple Gate Seventh-day Adventist Church members in Selma, Alabama, “donated clothes, shoes, and supplies for anyone in need” after a recent tornado.
The pastor, Thea Wilson, said they’ve also been able to serve meals and food to almost 500 people.
“We are very intentional about praying with them and reminding them that there is hope in Jesus Christ. He will see us through this storm,” said Wilson.
—From WSFA, “Church, Volunteers Help Those in Need as Selma Recovers from Tornado.”
United States Ambassador Tours Computer Information Science and Nursing Departments at Northern Caribbean University
Dr. Lincoln Edwards, president of Northern Caribbean University (NCU), recently toured United States Ambassador to Jamaica N. Nick Perry through “its computer information science and nursing departments with robotic and simulation equipment being utilized for the benefit of its students,” according to Kasey Williams writing for the Jamaica Observer.
“I am excited. The ambassador is pleased with his visit and we enjoy what we are doing here and we got a chance to showcase the university and so far the ambassador and his team are pleased with what they see. The robots department was a gift from the Whitford and Inga Reid Foundation,” said Dr. Edwards.
Damion Mitchell, assistant provost and chair of NCU's CIS department said the robotics and artificial intelligence lab is assisting students in developing their programming skills.
“This is the lab that houses all our robots, 3D printing and A1 type implements along with our augmented reality and virtual reality VR) sets. We actually started in the past three years with the building out of this space, we hope to expand it to include other simulation type effects,” he said.
“This area will give students the practical exposure to apply their programming skills in hardware technically, because the robots and VR are now applying that to it. The programme will further expand the repertoire of our students in terms of not just a programming approach, but also our hardware and A1 components,” he added.
Mitchell told the Sunday Observer that NCU is hopeful to become an “organiser of robotic competitions across the country, especially in high schools.”
—From the Jamaica Observer, “NCU Expanding Computer Science and Nursing Programmes.”
Adventist Church Hosts Celebration of India’s 74th Republic Day with Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor
The Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, hosted celebrations for India’s 74th Republic Day on January 28, 2023. Maryland’s first Indian-American lieutenant governor, Aruna Miller, spoke. She “highlighted the importance of the US-India relationship and urged citizens to proactively engage to progress both democracies,“ reports T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman for News India Times, a US national weekly.
Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, Maryland’s Secretary of State nominee, Senator Susan Lee, and Montgomery County Executive, Marc Elrich also addressed the gathering. Pastor John Daniel had invited these guests to join the church in its celebration.
—From News India Times, “Governor Wes Moore Declares January 26, 2023, as Republic Day of India in Maryland.”
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.
Title image: Participants of the North American Division's (NAD's) counternarrative writing conference. Photo by Bryant Taylor / NAD.
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