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First Chaplaincy Ministries director Charles D. Martin passes at 94

California, United States—Charles D. Martin, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor who was instrumental in starting Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist headquarters in 1985, passed away January 7, 2018. He was 94 years old. Martin served in the Youth department of the General Conference and was the director of the National Service Organization from 1980–1986. Martin pastored in the Southeastern California Conference until 1950, when he became conference youth director. “It was a time when conference youth directors were also assigned to work with the church’s National Service Organization (NSO),” said Martin in an interview in 2010. “NSO activities focused on counseling young Adventists who faced the possibility of being drafted.” In 1957 he, his wife, Pearl, and family went to Singapore, where he served as youth director of what was then the Far Eastern Division. In 1966 he became an associate youth director of the General Conference. “My previous work with the NSO at the conference level built the experience that I would need in my new position as a General Conference associate youth director,” he said.

In 1985, Martin was appointed the first director of the General Conference Service—a department after 1995—of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries.

Under Martin’s leadership, annual professional growth conferences were established, specifically designed to meet the needs of Adventist chaplains. “The annual conferences were a special time to renew our friendships and commitment to our ministry,” Martin stated.

 Martin retired in 1987. Three years later he and his wife went to Korea to operate the Adventist Servicemen’s Center in Seoul, returning to the United States in 1991. [Adventist Review / Deena Bartel-Wagner, ACM]

Inter-American Adventists move to revitalize the Medical Cadet Corps

Levittown, Puerto Rico—A historic meeting for the revitalization of the Medical Cadet Corps (MCC) program took place during a special training session April 30 to May 3, 2018. The meeting provided special training for MCC officers who are currently involved in the program across the North American and Inter-American divisions, as well as initiating other leaders who are interested in reviving the MCC in their regions.

“The MCC program originally helped Adventist servicemen serve according to their conscience,” said Mario Ceballos, World Service Organization–General Conference (WSO-GC) and Chaplaincy director. MCC cadets are trained and equipped to provide spiritual comfort and other services such as first aid during emergency situations, Ceballos explained.

“In today’s world, many countries no longer have a draft, and although we never know when world events could lead to a reinstatement of conscription, it is best to prepare our young adults,” Ceballos said. MCC training also equips cadets, ages 17 and older, to serve in their local communities in times of disaster.

The MCC was originally launched on January 8, 1934, at Union College. Training imitated the approach used for training medics in the United States Army and included close-order drill, army organizational structure, physical training, military courtesy, camp hygiene, litter drill, and first aid.

The US Army soon recognized the value of soldiers who had received this type of training and often placed them in positions of leadership and authority within their unit.

The vision of training young men for noncombatant service caught on, and other Adventist colleges adopted the program. In 1939 the General Conference voted to adopt the plan of military medical training. It was named the Seventh-day Adventist Medical Cadet Corps (SDAMCC).

During the recent training week, MCC officers attended the presentations MCC Operations and Organization, Senior Military Leadership Protocol, and Ethics.

“This is all about retaking the ministry that will allow many countries to show the face of the church full of compassion in service while it prepares young people to serve in natural disasters, in civic events, all [while] opening the door for others to learn about the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” explained Hiram Ruiz, Chaplaincy and WSO director for the Inter-American Division (IAD).

Ruiz said that Montemorelos University had been running the MCC training since the 1950s up to 2013 (The MCC was deactivated in North America in 1972). Groups in Colombia, Venezuela, and other countries in the Inter-America MCC leaders in East Puerto Rico train young people on a Sunday at the Adventist school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. [Photo: Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News]

Division continued running on their own to assist their communities. In Puerto Rico, the church has been successfully running the MCC program since 1951.

David Sebastian, WSO in the Puerto Rican Union Conference, said that the MCC is widely recognized across the island nation.

“Even though young cadets are not called to serve in the military, the effort of this organization moves with more emphasis in the spiritual life, civic life, community service to assist in the well-being of communities after natural disasters and other situations, serving selflessly,” said Sebastian. 

Reviving the MCC will offer more opportunities for the young people in churches throughout the region comprising the Inter-American Division. A dozen leaders traveled from countries in the IAD for the special MCC training, and implementation will follow during the next six months in Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, and other islands across the Caribbean, Ruiz said.

[Deena Bartel-Wagner, ACM / Inter-American Division News]

Ministry of Military Chaplains honored at memorial dedication ceremony

 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States— The first time Chaplain (Colonel)

Richard “Dick” Stenbakken ,United States Army, retired, visited the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii, was while stationed in Vietnam in November 1970.

Now, after a 47- year wait , Stenbakken’s dream of placing a memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to honor past and present US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine chaplains became a reality in a special dedication ceremony on December 13, 2017.

What began as a dream became a journey full of miracles.

Speaking at the dedication service, Stenbakken said that the placement of this memorial “honors every chaplain across the Pacific from all branches of the military and multiple faiths.” The ceremony was attended by a roster of chaplains from various faiths, including a Roman Catholic, a Methodist, an Anglican, a Unitarian, a Jewish rabbi, and Stenbakken, a Seventh-day Adventist.

“You would be hard pressed to have a more diversified group involved in the process,” said Stenbakken, who served 23 years on active duty as an army chaplain before becoming director of Chaplaincy Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Punchbowl stone marker itself came to California by cargo ship from India. It was a special jet-black, sloped surface stone weighing 1,600 pounds (725 kilograms) on which three bronze 3-D plaques representing the US Navy, Army, and Air Force chaplaincy offices were placed.

Stenbakken described how “seeing those very fresh graves caused me to ponder how many of ‘my troops’ were here, or might yet be here. Not as visitors, like myself, but as names etched in snow-white marble, watered by the tears of family and friends. Those thoughts uniquely encouraged and deepened my commitment to minister as an army chaplain.”

[Rajmund Dabrowski, Rocky Mountain Conference / Adventist Review]

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