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Adventist State Senator in Oregon Files Religious Freedom Complaint—and More News


Cedric Hayden, a Seventh-day Adventist and member of the Oregon Senate, has filed workplace complaints after the Senate president did not excuse him to attend church. Hayden "alleged in complaints to the Bureau of Labor and Industries and to the Legislative Equity Office that President Rob Wagner violated his religious freedom by denying his requests to be excused to attend a church service on Saturday," according to reporting by Julia Shumway and Ben Botkin for the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

Wagner had denied his request to be absent for church last Saturday, as well as requests to be off the next seven Saturdays of the legislative session.

“Other Senate absences have been excused, absences unrelated to religious reasons,” Hayden wrote in his complaint to the bureau.

Hayden also complained he was denied Sunday off to take care of his disabled daughter, a request that was “flatly denied.”

“Meanwhile, other legislators have been treated like employees and ‘excused’ from floor sessions by Wagner for apparent medical reasons,” Hayden wrote in the complaint.

Hayden noted he’s not entitled to medical leave like an employee, but “requested a reasonable religious accommodation from a place of public accommodation that provides a public service, and he was denied, without an interactive process or discussion regarding the denial.”

Hayden’s request comes amid a GOP-led walkout, with Republican lawmakers boycotting sessions to deny the Democrat majority a quorum, thereby stalling all legislation. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Hayden, a Republican, is also boycotting non-Saturday sessions:

Hayden is concerned about a package of policies expanding access to the opioid reversal drug naloxone, which he believes harmfully allows parents to be kept in the dark if their children receive addiction treatment. “Until negotiations happen, if they do happen, I don’t intend to be in the building,” he said.

Legislator absences have increased importance in Oregon this year, as in response to past walkouts, voters passed a measure to prevent lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from running for reelection.

—From the Oregon Capital Chronicle, Hayden Files Religious Discrimination Complaints on 6th Day of Oregon Senate Walkout,” and from Oregon Public Broadcasting, “This Time Around, Oregon’s Republican Lawmakers Are Boycotting in Plain Sight.”

Loma Linda University Medical Center Recognized by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Loma Linda University Medical Center was recognized by the United States Department of Energys Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for having treated more than 30,000 patients with proton therapy at its facility, which was the first in the nation. This recognition occurred at Fermilabs 10th Anniversary Inventor Recognition Ceremony on February 23, 2023.

“It’s national lab researchers like yourselves that assess real-world opportunities for the research while building commercialization and entrepreneurial skills,” said Vanessa Chan, chief commercialization officer for the Department of Energy, according to a report from Fermilab.

“We recognize and understand that this cornerstone work you all are doing is setting the pace for technological innovation for the United States of America. It is because of Fermilab’s neutron therapy that the first proton therapy facility at Loma Linda University Medical Center has treated more than 30,000 patients. You literally are saving lives, while you’re figuring out the meaning of the universe.”

—From Fermilab, “Fermilab Celebrates Inventors, Creators and Entrepreneurs.”

South Carolina Adventist Church Hosts Community Baby Shower

Members of Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, helped host a community baby shower for local mothers a week before Mother's Day. Chruch members Betti Ann Bernard and Mildred Vanderpuije spoke to News19 CBS about the event.

"Dozens of mothers were given essential products for their children. . . . Vanderpuije said it's a geographic area that makes motherhood even harder.

"It's a desert, we don't have a lot of grocery stores in our area, so that is hard for mother[s] first and foremost," she said. "A lot of our community is filled with single mothers, and even mothers who may have families, they don't have the resources."

According to Keith Woodard, the pastor at Ephesus, the church held a conference a few years ago where hundreds of people showed up and voiced concerns and described hardships in their community.

"We saw a gap or an opportunity. It was established after we saw that," Woodard said. "It was observed and there's a lack of resources in this zip code."

He said that spurred conversations about how to serve the community and thus the creation of the community baby shower.

The church partnered with the congregation and organizations like Prisma Health, the Richland County Sheriff's Department, and the Columbia-Richland Fire Department to collect donations that were given out to any parent that showed up.

Families had an array of products to choose from, including diapers, clothing, food, cleaning and laundry supplies, and even some books. Throughout the afternoon, moms came through the church and picked up their gifts. Vanderpuije said they were able to bless over 60 mothers in just a few hours. A strong showing, she said, will result in even more events moving forward.

"We will be doing it every year, every single year," she added. "This is one of our ministries that we are going to be continuing."

She said Sunday's event offers more than just diapers and clothes, it creates a chance to build relationships with the community and spread the gospel.

"Before we can even spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have to spread the gospel through our service," Vanderpuije said. "That is what we do, that is what we stand for."

—From News19 CBS, “Church Hosts Community Baby Shower Serving 60 Mothers.”

Zimbabwe Adventist Womens Ministries Conference Boosts Local Economy

Over 4,000 women from the Seventh-day Adventist Church gathered in northern Zimbabwe in the town of Kariba for a weekend-long womens ministries conference. The event had a positive impact on the local economy, reported Esther Shavi for CAJ News.

Officials in the sector confirmed all local lodges were booked, forcing some delegates to seek accommodation in the suburbs. Some had camping tents at the venue.

“This is our first conference in Kariba. We have been all over the country previously,” Chipo Mhandu, who holds the position of director of Women’s Ministries, said.

“Our mandate is to preach and help the community. We want to empower each other as women. We are receiving world class hospitality that is from security, accommodation and business people.”

. . .

Local entrepreneurs, including the fisheries sector, also recorded an increase in business.

“They have boosted our business,” said city father, Roses Madyira.

“Kariba will no longer be the same. It is going to be marketed broadly since these women came from various parts of the country,” he added.

Maureen Ngwenya, a member of the [Adventist Church], expressed excitement at the beauty of Kariba.

“I am very happy to be here. The view is amazing. Kariba is blessed,” Ngwenya said.

The main attraction locally is the Lake Kariba, the planet’s largest man-made dam with a length of 220 kilometers and 40km wide, in the River Zambezi, between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

—From CAJ News, “Religion Boosts Kariba Tourism Sector.”


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: Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon. Photo by the Oregon Department of Transportation / Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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