Skip to content

Shooting Occurs at Sumter Adventist Church Basketball Program and More News Shorts


Shooting Occurs at Sumter Adventist Church Basketball Program. After shots were fired during an argument between two opposing team members at a basketball game in the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church gym, everyone escaped injury according to Sumter, South Carolina officials. A sign posted on the gym’s door prohibits firearms and other weapons. The purpose of the church’s basketball ministry, Pastor Michael Miller said, is to provide an outlet for young people and others to learn positive life skills such as how to properly handle disagreements and how to be a better person. Berea’s basketball ministry is known for its positive outreach in the Lafayette Drive community for the past 15 years. Each Thursday, 25-30 people attend basketball games held in the gym. Those who attend Bible study on Tuesday can play. “Berea’s basketball ministry serves as an example of the efforts within Sumter to have a positive impact on young people and the community as a whole,” Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark III said. “However, the best of intentions can’t always anticipate or control the actions of others.” From this incident, there are lessons that can be learned, Pastor Miller said. “The greatest display of power is restraint. Use your mind, and come to a positive result.”

From the Sumter Item, “Shots fired at Sumter church hoops game Thursday.”

Church Pastor Accused of “Skinny Dipping” with Academy Students. An incident of outdoor nude bathing during a camping trip between chaperones and students from an Adventist school and church may have actually been skinny dipping between a pastor and students. A state Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigation launched earlier this year after a concerned parent reported the incident to the principal of South Lancaster Academy in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Heather Cook, associate pastor of the College Church of Seventh-day Adventists in Lancaster, allegedly took off her clothes and went into a public body of water in Maine with the female students, some of whom were minors, during an annual “senior survival” trip held by South Lancaster Academy.

Fallout from the incident led to Cook seeking a restraining order against Randall Gifford, a congregation member, after he spoke to her about the apparent skinny dipping incident and allegedly threatened her. “There was a field trip involved with minor children where the pastor disrobed and went skinny dipping with them,” attorney Danielle Thomason, counsel for Gifford said at the Clinton District Court hearing. “Parents were outraged. Some parents weren’t, some parents were.” Judge Robert Gardner denied the restraining order request, stating that not enough evidence was presented to support it.

Two chaperones went on the trip in Maine. The Southern New England Conference identified one as a female church employee, who was placed on paid administrative leave and asked not to participate in any church activities. That leave was later lifted. The other chaperone was just identified as a female chaperone. Both chaperones have stated the nude bathing was for hygienic reasons, a letter previously released read. “Upon our initial review of the incident, we did not believe there was any ill intent. At the time we received this news, there was no suggestion or report that the students were physically touched,” read a statement previously released by David Dennis, the president and communication director for the Southern New England Conference. The DCF has since completed its investigation, but findings by the agency are not made public. However, all criminal charges regarding the matter have been dropped.

From MassLive, “Nude bathing between female students and chaperones during a Massachusetts school trip investigated by DCF” and “Female pastor accused of skinny dipping with students during school trip sought restraining order against church member.”

Stockton SDA Pastor Runs for City Council. Lanston Sylvester, the pastor at Mayfair Seventh-day Adventist Church in Stockton, California, has announced he will run this year for the City Council seat currently occupied by Vice Mayor Elbert Holman. Holman has chosen to endorse the 53-year-old Sylvester, who currently serves as a Stockton Civil Service Commissioner. “[Sylvester] is committed to Stockton and has seen first-hand the challenges facing this community,” Holman, who represents District 1 in north Stockton, said in a written statement. “Lanston Sylvester, a new voice in electoral service, will bring a fresh approach based on his real-world experience of understanding this city.” In a statement of his own, Sylvester said, “Like Elbert, I will make public safety a priority and work to ensure fiscal prudence. I am truly humbled to begin this campaign with the endorsement of such an esteemed public servant.”

From, “Holman endorses pastor for north Stockton council seat.”


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 Redlands, California.

Image Credit: Pexels.

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.