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At UN, James Standish Returns to Church Representation

ANN reports that James Standish is returning to denominational employ as the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s liaison to the United Nations.

Elizabeth Lechleitner writes:

James D. Standish, Esq., formerly longtime director of Legislative Affairs for the Adventist Church, spent the past year as executive director of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent non-partisan federal agency advising the White House and Congress.

Working with the Commission gave him a broader understanding of the “inner workings” of government and what can be accomplished through cooperation and a candid exchange of ideas, Standish said.

“It’s a real privilege to come back to work for the Adventist Church,” he said. “I think that the church has so much to offer, from its understanding of religious freedom to its emphasis on education and health care and its thorough understanding of the gospel. Being part of that effort again from the inside is something that I really look forward to.”

This move comes at a time of ferment in the Adventist religious liberty world. Barry W. Bussey took over as Executive Director of NARLA. Church/State Council of the Pacific Union Conference, among others, is sponsoring a conference on gay marriage in October and the independent increasingly provides the best up-to-date religious liberty news and commentary in the denomination and beyond.

According to (which needs an update), “[t]he Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Liaison Office to the United Nations is based at the Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. It serves to both communicate and represent the Church at the UN and also to inform the Church of UN activities of importance and interest.”

The UN Liaison Office participates in a wide-range of UN summits, conferences, and committees, advising national representatives and non-government organizations of the Church’s global program of education, health and spiritual development from the perspective of religious freedom and human rights, moral and ethical principles, and a commitment to an improved quality of life based on Christian beliefs.

Given the July news about possible cooperation between the church’s health leadership and the UN’s World Health Organization as well as lingering eschatologically-inflected, Bircher-esque fear of the UN, it will be interesting to see how Adventism navigates the UN’s legendary inefficiencies and the pressures of globalization. But beyond the harsh realities of world politics and social change there is reason for Adventist eschatolotically-informed hope. The church leadership and laity face some serious choices about how best to protect our Sabbatarian rights and expand our witness to freedom of conscience for all. As we approach the second decade of the 21st century, let’s embrace that hope by remembering Jesus’ promise: “it is on this rock that I will build my congregation, and the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matt 16).

Here’s part one of Spectrum’s podcast interviews with James Standish from May 2008. And podcast number two, from June 2008.

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