Respect for Marriage Act and Fairness for All Act
Washington, DC, United States
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has not endorsed or advocated for the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, voted by the United States Senate on November 16, 2022. The legislation requires states to recognize marriages from other states, including same-sex marriages.
Due to concerns expressed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other religious freedom advocates, amended legislation now contains provisions that address core religious freedom concerns raised by the bill. These include Congress acknowledging that “both traditional marriage supporters and their beliefs are decent and honorable,” which protects churches from being forced to facilitate same-sex marriages and prevents retaliation against religious organizations for their views on marriage.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church greatly appreciates the congressional offices that responded to its concerns by including these religious-liberty provisions. It prefers to be known by what it is for rather than what it is against, who the church supports rather than who it opposes. It, therefore, continues to support legislative initiatives such as the Fairness for All Act, a balanced piece of legislation that provides LGBT nondiscrimination protections in areas such as secular employment, housing, and public accommodations while preserving religious-freedom safeguards for people of faith and the institutions they maintain.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church respects the right of others to believe differently; however, the church does not base its view on marriage upon a secular rationale, and it will continue to teach and promote its understanding of marriage, sexuality, and family. [North American Division]
A ministry of care for university students in Australia
According to statistics from the Barna Group, 72 percent of young people who attend church in Australia drop out of church life as they transition into university and young adulthood. The Australian Union Conference (AUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has therefore launched Disciple Focused Life Group Leadership, a project that offers ministry to university students outside of the church and supports Adventist students within secular universities. This four-year initiative aims to help Adventist young adults stay in the church and facilitate outreach to secular university students by placing two young adults within selected secular universities around Australia to set up life groups on campus.
Life group leaders will have training and support from mentors—from the local church level up to the South Pacific Division.
Jeffrey Parker, Youth director for AUC, said, “It is so exciting to see all of our Australian conferences wanting to be a part of this Life Group ministry proposal as it rolls out over 2023–2024. All the conference administration teams see the need to move forward in this space and want to act fast to connect with both our own Adventist young adults and other university students that can be reached for Christ.” [Kimberley McMurray and Juliana Muniz, Adventist Record]
The gift of Bert Beverly Beach
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
For decades, Bert B. Beach was the face of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to other faiths and civic entities. Beach passed to his rest on December 14, 2022, at 94, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Beach was born in Gland, Switzerland, to an American family. His father, Walter Raymond Beach, was a Seventh-day Adventist Church administrator. He received a PhD from the University of Paris and spoke six languages. Beach served as secretary general of the General Conference of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, and was secretary general of the International Association for Religious Freedom until his retirement in 1995.
His reach extended to the far corners of Europe and West Africa. Former General Conference president Jan Paulsen stated, “Bert Beach, more than any other leader from . . . our church, pioneered for us the importance of communicating with people whose religious convictions and values differed from ours—important for us to understand them and for us to be understood.”
In his 1974 publication Ecumenism: Boon or Bane? Beach declared, “Adventism is not a utopian vision of pie in the apocalyptic sky by and by. Adventists wish to be seed planters—seeds of love, kindness, peace, justice, temperance, health, purity, and brotherhood. . . . Although such a society will never fully materialize prior to the Parousia, it is the mission of the church to witness and proclaim the coming accomplishment of such a truly new and revolutionary society by standing for justice and peace.”
Ganoune Diop, director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, called Beach, a predecessor, “a gift to the world of faith and beyond,” who brought “legitimacy and credibility” to Adventism in the eyes of the other Christian denominations. Diop concluded that both “the political and religious worlds owe him a debt” and we are all “grateful to God for giving us a gift in the person of Bert Beach.” [Tor Tjeransen, Trans-European Division, Adventist Review staff, and Andy Roman]
Editor’s note: This editor’s very first ministerial call came from Dr. B. B. Beach. I treasure his decades-old letter to the Ghana High Commission in London: “Mr. Jeffrey Brown has been asked by our organisation to spend approximately one year teaching at Bekwai Secondary School … His stay in Ghana will be fully supported by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” It was the beginning of a life of mission for me. Michelle, daughter of Bert and his wife Eliana, studied with us at Newbold College in England and later the family instituted the annual W. R. and B. B. Beach Lectureship on the campus. Thank you, Eliana and the Beach family, for your incredible service to people of all faiths—and none. —Jeffrey O. Brown