Religious news from around the world.

Church news from around the world.

Four church plants are being organized into local Adventist churches in the Netherlands

Huis ter Heide, the Nether­lands—This spring four church plants in the Netherlands Union Conference (NUC) are being orga­nized into a recognized Seventh-day Adventist church.

Beginning in 2000, the NUC has invested in 23 church plants. These projects are carried out by teams of church members, who are monitored by a minister, usually the pastor of their “mother” church. Unfortunately, three out of these 23 church plants have stopped working. However, three others were organized into a church a few years ago. These churches have become big congregations.

While these three churches are mainly geared to the Dutch Caribbean (Antillean) culture, four new ones are predominantly linked to postmoderns, the post-Christian culture of the Netherlands. Pastor Wim Altink, NUC president, and Pastor Rudy Dingjan, NUC staff member for church growth, will lead out in the inauguration feasts for these churches.

The Netherlands Union Conference has 5,375 members worshiping now in 58 churches and 13 church plants. [tedNEWS]

In Hungary, amended religion law recognizes Seventh-day Adventist Church

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States—A difficult time for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hungary took a new turn when the nation’s lawmakers voted to restore the denomination’s official church status. Hungary’s parliament amended the country’s controversial “Law on Churches,” on February 27, 2012, to expand the list of officially recognized churches from 14 to a total of 32. Among other faith groups added to the law were the Methodist Church, the Pentecos­tal Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Hungarian Islamic Council.

Tamás Ócsai, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hungary, said the vote con­cludes months of uncertainty for both church leaders and members. Under the Law on Churches, first passed in July of last year, 14 denomina­tions retained their traditional legal status while some 300 minor­ity religious groups, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were “deregistered” and invited to reapply for church status. The Hungarian government said the law is part of its broader efforts to shore up the country’s struggling economy, and is aimed at preventing sham religious groups from claiming rights and privileges extended to churches.

“The past six months have been challenging,” said Ócsai, speaking just minutes after the parliament voted on the amendment. “But throughout it all, we haven’t felt alone. We’ve experienced a tre­mendous sense of support from our worldwide church family who’ve been praying, along with us, that God’s purpose will prevail.”

Bertil Wiklander, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Trans-European Division, welcomed the news, saying the vote allows the church in Hungary to look to the future with renewed purpose and energy. “The Hungarian Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long tradi­tion of community service through its houses of worship, education programs, and welfare and public health initiatives,” he said. “We’re very pleased the government of Hungary has recognized this rich heritage, and that our church’s many fine ministries for the public good can continue.”

Wiklander also commended church leaders in Hungary for their “balanced, persistent approach in dealing with a complex political and legal situation.”

He said, “Today, we join our brothers and sisters in Hungary in giving thanks to God for lead­ing them through what has been a tremendously dif­fi cult time.”

Raafat Kamal, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Trans-European Division, called the passage of the amendment “an immense relief for all those who’ve been working tirelessly for this outcome.” But he also noted that the Law on Churches has stirred considerable international concern since it was passed last year, with some analysts saying it overtly politicizes the religious landscape in Hungary.

In response to criticisms, the Hungarian government has empha­sized that even religious groups without church status can continue to meet, worship, and evangelize­ rights that are protected under Hungary’s constitution.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hungary was first officially recognized by the government in 1957. Today it has more than 100 congregations and 5,000 members and also operates the Adventist Theological Seminary in Pécel, near Budapest. [tedNEWS]

Former editor dies

Leo Ray Van Dolson, who served the Seventh-day Adventist Church for many years in various capacities, including Ministry, died March 11, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was 86 years old.

After being pastor, chaplain, evangelist, and teacher, Van Dolson joined the staff of the General Conference Ministerial Association in 1973 as an assistant secretary and executive editor of Ministry magazine. Later he became editor of Life and Health magazine (now called Vibrant Life) before join­ing the Adventist Review staff as associate editor in 1979.Van Dolson, a native of San Francisco, California, was a noted pastor, missionary, educator, and journalist, serving the Adventist Church in Asia and North America. He preached on six continents and published dozens of books and scores of articles.

In 1982, Van Dolson joined the General Conference Sabbath School Department as associate director. He retired from denomina­tional service in 1987. [Adapted from Adventist Review, Carlos Medley]

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May 2012

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