North American Division stands with Asian-American community
Columbia, Maryland, United States
The leadership of the North American Division (NAD) is condemning recent acts of violence and hate against the Asian-American community. A statement released in March by the NAD president, secretary, and treasurer called for members to unite in support of their Asian brothers and sisters as they face undeserved animosity.
“As leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, we denounce the recent acts of violence and hatred against our brothers and sisters in the Asian-American community. God calls us to love all His children, no matter our differences. Our diversity makes us stronger as a people, and the variety of cultures making up our territory are a direct reflection of His creative power. We need to celebrate our differences and embrace the uniqueness of each and every person.
“We call on all our members to stand up and support the Asian-American communities where they live. Be vocal in your appreciation of our Asian brothers and sisters in their time of need. Create a safe space for them by listening to their experiences and showing Christ-like compassion,” the statement continued.
The NAD officers have a passionate connection to Asia.
NAD president G. Alexander Bryant served as a student volunteer in Japan, describing his year there as “an incredible opportunity to learn to appreciate the richness of the Japanese culture and people.” NAD secretary Kyoshin Ahn served as president of the Korean Churches Association in North America and is the first Korean American elected to serve as NAD executive secretary.
NAD treasurer and chief financial officer Randy Robinson is married to Denise Halenz, whose family is steeped in mission. Denise’s parents, Dr. Donald and Elaine Halenz, worked for decades as teachers and missionaries in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Bryant shared, “As Seventh-day Adventists, we represent almost every people group in the world. Our diversity empowers us to strongly speak in support of all communities. Jesus encouraged us with these words, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another’ ” (John 13:34, NKJV).
The NAD officers want the Asian-American community to “know we stand with them and beside them during this season where they are being unfairly targeted.” [North American Division Communication/Ministry]
Adventist international event for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind connects hundreds
Organized by Adventist Deaf Ministries International (ADMI) of the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the second Adventist International Congress for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind connected hundreds of Possibilities Ministries leaders and members on March 12 and 13, 2021.
According to ADMI director and EUD communication director Corrado Cozzi, the informal exchanges on Zoom were the most important part of the event, which was otherwise marked by well-thought-out presentations. “Many people stayed until ninety minutes after the end of the daily program to talk!” he added.
Special guests and speakers included Jitka Moravkova, a deaf theology student from the Czech Republic; Henry Maina Kamau, a deaf pastor from Kenya; and Douglas Domingo da Silva, a deaf pastor from Brazil. The three of them shared spiritual messages focused on how they can overcome any obstacle with the invaluable assistance of Jesus.
Other guests included international mime Carlos Martínez, Adventist Church Possibilities Ministries director Larry Evans, and Adventist Church Deaf Ministries associate coordinator Jeff Jordan.
Even though the program was mainly presented in English, it was translated into seven other languages and a variety of sign languages. Participants were invited to look for the interpreter showing a specific flag for their language. Additional activities included an interactive segment in which participants could share a specific contribution of their own.
The event was coordinated by Geoffrey Zobries, director of the Adventist German Association of the Deaf and Deaf-Blind. Being deaf himself, Zobries had a unique understanding of what topics would best be received and the congress successfully overcame the challenges of an online event to offer tools and encouragement to participants across several continents. [Andreas Mazza, Inter-European Division, and Adventist Review]
Adventists attend religious liberty event with Portugal’s president
António Amorim, president of the Adventist Portuguese Union of Churches in Portugal, attended a special meeting with other religious leaders in the Municipal Chamber of Porto on March 9, 2021.
During the event, Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said he acknowledged and valued the contribution of religious communities to the social fabric of Portugal.
Seventeen religious communities active in Portugal attended the ceremony, including representatives from Christian denominations and the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. The ceremony was part of a program marking the beginning of Rebelo de Sousa’s second term as president.
“Thanks to all those who make a reality of one of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in our constitution: religious freedom,” Rebelo de Sousa said in his address to religious leaders. “Pluralism characterizes a free, open, and democratic society.”
De Sousa also said that “Portugal has a great debt to religious confessions in the areas of education, health, social benevolence, and crisis management, including our fight against the pandemic.” And, he added, “in the last painful and exhausting year, our unrelenting struggle would be different were it not for your contribution to crucial areas of national life.” According to de Sousa, churches were at the forefront of assistance to the underserved and underprivileged.
He also called on churches to engage in “constructive dialogue and unity of purpose, doing everything they can to stand for freedom, tolerance, mutual understanding, at a time when dividing and labeling seems so attractive.”
Adventist leaders in Portugal said they believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s inclusion is a recognition of the denomination’s commitment to the defense and promotion of religious freedom. It is a principle that includes the right to believe according to one’s conscience and to change, abandon, or share one’s beliefs. It also supports interreligious dialogue based on respect for differences and public expressions of faith.
“After receiving the visit of the president three years ago, this invitation is also a sign of our commitment to being witnesses of our faith,” Adventist leaders said. “Also, it stresses our resolve to share solidarity and hope.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long and fruitful tradition of commitment to religious freedom, good relationships with authorities, and dialogue with other faith communities. Adventists understand that religious liberty and public affairs are relevant to its mission and contribution to society. [Portuguese Union Conference, and Adventist Review]