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Rally against Violence Hosted by Jacksonville Adventist Church—and More News

Pastors from the Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Florida, joined in planning a recent “Stand Up Against the Violence” rally “to honor the lives of all who died from violence in Duval County and push to get justice for their deaths,” reports News4JAX. This includes the case of Rashaud Fields, a high school football star who was shot and killed at a graduation party in 2022, as well as the cases of others who have been killed. Fields had also attended middle school at a local Adventist junior academy.

News4JAX reporters Aaron Farrar and Aleesia Hatcher covered the rally.

Joyceline Dudley is the principal at Ephesus Junior Academy, which is where Rashaud Fields attended middle school.

“There is strength in unity,” Dudley said. “When we come together, changes can be made. It was a senseless murder, and we want justice. Why not now?”

At the rally, there was community prayer, singing, and inspirational messages from ministers including Ricardo Daphnis, who leads the congregation at Ephesus SDA Church.

. . .

John Phillips is the Fields family’s attorney.

“We’ve had so many murders, over 1,000 murders, in seven years. [Rashaud] Fields is the one we’re spotlighting today. And his family has been through so much. He was shot just hours after graduation. Jacksonville is killing each other for just the worst reasons,” Phillips said.

According to News4JAX, there have been 21 homicides so far in 2023 and 164 in 2022.

—From News4Jax, “Jacksonville Churches Come Together for ‘Stand up against the Violence’ Rally” and “‘Stand up against the Violence’ Rally Planned Today” (via YouTube).

New Book Revisits Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy

This year is the 30th anniversary of the deadly standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. Reporting for WBUR’s “Here and Now,” Robin Young and Emiko Tamagawa share that author Kevin Cook “dives deep into the siege and what happened after in his new book, Waco Rising: David Koresh, the FBI, and the Birth of America’s Modern Militias.” 

The Branch Davidians focused on the violence in the Book of Revelation and believed a final battle was coming with “Babylon,” the term members used to describe the FBI and ATF, Cook says.

And when government forces struck the compound, followers took the tanks rolling in as proof that their charismatic leader Koresh was right about the world ending before their eyes.

“The thing about Koresh was not really charisma. It was that he was able to make the Bible — the often confusing, often conflicting stories of the Bible — compelling to have great meaning to his followers,” Cook says. “His followers were sincerely religious. I happen to believe that David Koresh was a monster. What he did, I think, was to make his followers feel that they had a great role to play in the coming apocalypse.”

—From WBUR, “‘Waco Rising’ Explores How the Siege in Waco Continues to Reverberate 30 Years Later.”

Ohio Adventist Church Hosts Creation Health Seminars

The Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, is hosting an eight-part series titled Creation Health. Jeff Wehr, the church pastor, will present the seminars. “He previously worked at a lifestyle center in Virginia that was a more intensive program than the Creation Health seminars.” Wehr was interviewed by Leonard L. Hayhurst for the Coshocton Tribune.

According to Wehr, the Bible-based program is based on “holistic science.”

Each seminar is themed after a word from each letter in Creation. C is for creation or the Creator, r is for relationships, e is for exercise, a is for attitude, t is for temperance, i is for immunity, o is for outdoors and n is for nutrition.

“Creation Health begins with the perspective that we are wonderfully made, but at the same time there are laws or principals of health,” Wehr said. “If we have an exercise program, we’ll benefit from it. If we don’t have one, we won’t receive those benefits. 

. . .

The [Brooklyn] church has also been offering a diabetes seminar. [Wehr] said a stop-smoking clinic and cooking classes could be down the road.

“It’s becoming more popular. We’re not the only ones who put forth lifestyle principals that help people physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Wehr said of the church’s efforts. “There’s a lot of science behind this and more is increasingly coming out. It’s good to know the science behind our bodies and how we can best take care of it.”

—From the Coshocton Tribune, “Creation Health Offers Holistic, Faith-Based Approach to Wellness.”

Nigerian Adventist Pastor’s Wife Raped and Murdered

Chigbewejim Steward, wife to Nigerian Adventist pastor Lawyer Steward, was abducted and later found dead. “I am calling on the government to help find those boys that kidnapped my wife, raped and murdered her. Let the police help arrest them and make them pay for what they did to my wife,” Lawyer Steward said, according to Egufe Yafugborhi reporting for Vanguard News.

Prince Wiro, National Coordinator of rights defenders, Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign, condemning the dastard murder of the Pastor’s wife, has demanded “It is important that the police get to work. They must carry out a thorough investigation to ensure that the culprits are arrested so that the woman gets justice.”

Spokesperson, Rivers Police Command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, was yet to give police update on the matter at the time of filing this report.

Vanguard News reports that eyewitnesses and the victim’s husband “suspect that the woman was gang raped before being murdered by the abductors led by a kingpin of the Icelanders cult in the area.” The Icelanders are a street gang implicated in many killings and other violent crimes.

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: screenshot from the Jacksonville Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church via YouTube.

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