Religious news from around the world.

Religious news from around the world.

World church honors pastor’s dedication to God, his church, and his family

Columbia, Maryland, United States— Dr. Roscoe J. Howard, former executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s North American Division (NAD), passed away in Apopka, Florida, United States, on January 21, 2019, after a struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 64.

Howard began his ministry as the pastor of a two-church district in Oak Harbor, Washington. An African-American pastoring two Caucasian congregations was almost unheard of 40 years ago. Then Howard moved to pastor the largest African-American congregation in the Pacific Northwest, Emerald City Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in Seattle, Washington.

“Roscoe was shaped in a unique way by the hand of God to become the man and the instrument God would use in many varied and diverse ways,” said G. Alexander Bryant, NAD executive secretary. “Roscoe had a special blend of spirituality, intellect, articulation, humor, and laughter that was carefully woven into every assignment he undertook.” 

The North Pacific Union Conference called Howard to serve as the youth director and vice president of Regional Affairs; the Mid-America Union called him to serve as the executive secretary of its territory; the NAD asked him to serve as the executive secretary for the division, and after he served in this capacity for several years, the Mid-America Union Executive Committee took a surprising step and asked Howard to return and serve as the president.

Howard had served as president of Mid-America Union for a relatively short period when he was asked by Adventist Health System (now AdventHealth), located in Orlando, Florida, to serve as vice president for Spiritual Wellness (later called Mission and Ministries). He served with distinction, dignity, creativity, courage, faithfulness, and an unshakable trust in God.

Ted N. C. Wilson,president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, stated, “On behalf of the world Seventh-day Adventist Church family, we offer our Christian sympathy and condolences to Mrs. Osceola Howard, Heather, Seth, and the extended Howard family on the death of Pastor Roscoe J. Howard. I have prayed for the family and encourage you to lift them up in prayer. May the Comforter come especially close to the family as we look forward to Christ’s soon return when He will provide us with eternal youth and life. ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ ”

Dr. Bryant concluded, “Throughout Roscoe’s ministry and assignments, he never lost sight of what was important— and that was his family. He was always able to keep them as the top priority no matter what the assignment, and they were able to stay a tight-knit unit throughout his ministry, his life, and until his death.”

For the full story, please see the North American Division news article “Roscoe J. Howard, Former NAD Executive Secretary, Passes to His Rest” at /news/roscoe-j-howard-former-nad- executive-secretary-passes-his-rest. [NAD Communication with G. Alexander Bryant] 

100,000 copies of pastor’s hope for families book delivered in Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil—A camporee gives Pathfinders many learning opportunities and is the perfect place for them to share what they have learned with the community around them. This is just what club members from Brazil and Chile did as they handed out copies of the book Hope for the Family: The Road to a Happy Ending in the town of Barretos, Brazil. Coauthors of the book, Willie and Elaine Oliver, codirectors of Family Ministries for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, accompanied them. During the two rallies of the South American Camporee, participants planned to distribute 100,000 copies of the work, with a cover specially designed for Barretos residents.

A group with pastor Alacy Barbosa, director of Family Ministries for eight South American countries, approached three ladies and handed them books saying, “At present, families have many needs. Most people have a lack of knowledge, and we have a secure source that shows us the way to build a healthy family, which is the Bible. This book presents the same principles.” Maria Aparecida dos Santos responded, “The family is especially loved in the lives of people. All we have is the family. It was a joy to receive this book.”

Dr. Willie Oliver commented, “When we develop dynamics to improve the lives of families, we are saying that we want a healthier, stronger society. The more parents and children are together, the stronger the relationship between them.” In their book, the Olivers also state that “sexuality was God’s idea, and without doubt, it is very good. . . . Unless you set healthy boundaries ahead of time, whether married or single, you will be in trouble.”

For Nayele Ribeiro, 13, it was a privilege to be able to contribute. On three previous occasions, she and her two friends have distributed the book with their club located in the interior of Pará, Brazil. Ribeiro stated, “The best thing is that these books can help people to know Jesus.” [Brazil Lucas Rocha/ ANN Staff]

Most pastors encounter sexual brokenness— few feel “very qualified” to address 

A newly released study, Sexuality and the Church in America I,1shows that 77 percent of non-mainline and 56 percent of mainline church pastors strongly agreed that churches should offer help with issues of sexual brokenness. Of those surveyed, 80 percent of pastors said they were approached in the past year by individuals with questions concerning marital infidelity. Yet, only 37 percent of non-mainline pastors and 32 percent of mainline church pastors said they feel very qualified to assist congregants struggling with marital infidelity.

 Even though many feel inadequate, 70 percent of pastors said they are approached several times a year or more by church members struggling with various sexual sins. And 22 percent were contacted once per month or more regarding concerns over sexual brokenness. Issues of sexual brokenness include marital infidelity, lust, pornography addiction, gender identity confusion, and sexual abuse, among others.

Notably, 73 percent of pastors were approached with pornography-related questions. But only 16 percent of mainline pastors felt very qualified to address pornography use by husbands, versus 30 percent of non-mainline pastors. A mere 10 percent of mainline pastors and 9 percent of non-mainline pastors felt very qualified to address a wife’s pornography use.

But even fewer pastors feel very qualified to assist church members struggling with pornography, sexual abuse, and transgenderism/gender dysphoria, to name a few. 

“It doesn’t alarm us that pastors are encountering so much sexual brokenness over the course of a year. We know such issues exist,” said Daniel Weiss, president of the Brushfires Foundation and author of the report. “What concerns us is that so few pastors feel very qualified to handle these difficult and painful issues. There is a great need for ministry leaders to be trained and for outside caregiving ministries to work directly with local churches to handle these issues in a caring and professional way.”

The study surveyed 410 senior, executive, or lead pastors on behalf of 25 organizations and was conducted by Barna Group. [Chelsen Vicari/Juicy Ecumenism or The Institute on Religion and Democracy]


1  The report can be found on the Brushfires website at

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March 2019

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