News Round-up (October)

Here is a round-up of social ethics/action stories for the month of October:

Adventist News Network

Adventist Peace Fellowship

Adventist Review

Adventist Today (News)

North American Division

Spectrum (Blog)

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News Round-up

Lawsuit Accuses Church of Naming Convicted Child Molester Pathfinder Leader (Logan, Spectrum, 6 Sept 2014)

Two men are suing the Seventh-day Adventist Church for $13.5 million for allegedly allowing a convicted child molester to be a Pathfinder youth leader.

Survivor Advocate Objects to Rebaptism of Samuel Pipim (AToday, 7 Sept 2014)

A professional counselor who serves as an advocate for victims of clergy abuse with The Hope for Survivors, an Adventist organization, has released a statement detailing why Dr. Samuel Pipim was not properly eligible for rebaptism. She was assigned by the organization to work with one of at least three young women that Pipim has victimized to facilitate healing and speak on the victim’s behalf.

ADRA, partnering organizations sending medical supplies to West Africa (ADRA/ANN, 8 Sept 2014)

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is partnering with other Adventist organizations to provide needed medical supplies in West Africa as the region grapples with an ongoing Ebola outbreak.

In Costa Rica, Adventist youth and ADRA collaborate for community impact (Valerin, ANN, 11 Sept 2014)

Seventh-day Adventists in Costa Rica last month partnered with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to served in the city of Heredia to distribute food to the homeless, showcase a health expo and promote a recycling campaign.

Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division hosts first women’s congress (Diez, ANN, 11 Sept 2014)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division hosted its first international Women’s Congress last weekend, drawing more than 700 women from countries throughout Central and Southern Europe for worship and empowerment workshops.

ADRA Australia assisting in Nepal following deadly floods (ANN, 11 Sept 2014)

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is establishing two temporary health camps in Western Nepal to assist some of the 180,000 people still affected by last month’s deadly flooding.

ADRA to Assist 5,000 Affected by Deadly Floods in Nepal (Blyde, Adventist Review, 11 Sept 2014)

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or ADRA, is establishing two temporary medical camps in Nepal to help 5,000 people as it seeks to counter a growing health crisis caused by deadly flooding.

Women Pastors Tell Their Stories (Byrd, Spectrum, 17 Sept 2014)

The North American Division’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee last year recorded some of the amazing stories of the women serving as Adventist pastors in the Division.

Adventist health leader commends WHO for first suicide report (Oliver, ANN, 19 Sept 2014)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s top health official commended the World Health Organization for its first ever report on suicide, which offers statistics and action steps for promoting suicide prevention as a higher priority on the global public health agenda.

Ice Bucket Challenge Comes to Adventists (AToday, 19 Sept 2014)

A health charity has achieved worldwide fame on television and social media. The foundation that funds research to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been challenging well-known figures to be seen having a bucket of ice water dumped over their heads and that pop phenomena has now reached into the Adventist movement.

More at Adventist Peace Fellowship.

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Care for God’s Creation

I’ve been following updates from the preliminary events scheduled around the People’s Climate March in New York tomorrow, wishing I could join (Tumblr | Twitter). If you or someone you know is joining the march, please let us know in the comment section below.

For those of us unable to attend, here are points for contemplation:

ADVENTIST CHURCH STATEMENTS

ARTICLES

BOOKS

QUOTES–VARIOUS ADVENTIST VOICES

“We need to expand our moral horizon and our notions of justice and stewardship. Many Christians, even Seventh-day Adventists, do not properly value creation. There is more to good “stewardship” than paying a faithful tithe.” –Jo Ann Davidson, AU Seminary professor (Entrusted, p. 11)

“Thus the best approach to environmental care is theocentric–not anthropocentric nor ecocentric–and firmly anchored in the Bible.” — Humberto Rasi, Former world director of Education Department for the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Entrusted, p. 16)

“While it is important to detail stewardship requirements concerning the environment, money, possessions, time, and opportunities, the most crucial principle is God’s ownership of the earth and everything in it…. Thus, we must treat all of the earth as created by God and belonging ultimately to him as its Maker.” –Rahel Schafer, Assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Andrews University (Entrusted, p. 26)

“All living creatures are co-inhabitants of Earth, and as they also depend on its ecosystems for survival, the Bible holds humankind responsible for the preservation of the earth and the care of all living creatures.” –Rahel Schafer (Entrusted, p. 31)

“[1] The Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs include stewardship of the earth and its resources. See Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of Fundamental Doctrines, 2nd ed. (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2005), 301-310. Ellen G. White also strongly encourages care for animals and the environment. See Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1909), 315, 316; Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1913), 443.” –Rahel Schafer (Entrusted, p. 31)

“In the sabbatarian triumvirate in the Old Testament, plenitude is valued over production. By plenitude is meant a reality that is sensitive to the needs of all creation, including non-human creation and the land. Cessation, we learn, does not negate plenitude. In this way the Sabbath is the foremost anchoring point for ecology and eco-theology in the Old Testament. From the point of view of the earth and non-human creation, the Sabbath is a beacon of hope.” –Sigve Tonstad, Minister, physician and author (Entrusted, p. 42)

QUOTES–ELLEN WHITE

“Pure, practical religion will be manifested in treating the earth as God’s treasure-house. The more intelligent a man becomes, the more should religious influence be radiating from him. And the Lord would have us treat the earth as a precious treasure, lent us in trust.” –Ellen G. White (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 245; found in Entrusted, p. 13, 21)

“Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses.” –Ellen G. White (Ministry of Healing, p. 314)

“Think of the cruelty to animals that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard the creatures of God!” –Ellen G. White (Ministry of Healing, p. 315)

“The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human beings use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for man which are not broken without great suffering to them.” –Ellen G. White (Ministry of Healing, p. 315-316)

“Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods?…. Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning, and themselves practice, and teach their children to practice, mercy toward the dumb creatures that God has made and has placed under our dominion” –Ellen G. White (Ministry of Healing, p. 317)

“Balaam had given evidence of the spirit that controlled him, by his treatment of his beast. ‘A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.’ Proverbs 12:10. Few realize as they should the sinfulness of abusing animals or leaving them to suffer from neglect. He who created man made the lower animals also, and ‘His tender mercies are over all His works.’ Psalm 145:9. The animals were created to serve man, but he has no right to cause them pain by harsh treatment or cruel exaction. It is because of man’s sin that ‘the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.’ Romans 8:22. Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God’s creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness, to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures.” –Ellen G. White (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 442-443)

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Viewpoints: Idel Suarez Jr, Reform Movement President

I interviewed Pastor Idel Suarez Jr for the Viewpoints interview series at Adventist Today (old site, new site). Suarez is the president of one branch of the Adventist Reform Movement that started in Europe during World War I. I met Dr. Suarez in Germany earlier this summer when we both attended a symposium on how WWI affected the Adventist Church (link). In this interview Suarez shares about the movement’s history, values and theology. Excerpt:

AToday: You’ve spoken to this already, but what were the major factors or events at the time of WWI that led to the Reform Movement in Germany, Russia, and elsewhere?

Suarez: The Reform Movement started in Germany. It was Germany that entered the war first, that made a declaration of war. And Guy Dail, secretary of the European Division, issued a letter, stating that Adventists should bear arms and go to war. That was August 2, 1914. Of course that letter caused a grave difficulties among the churches in Germany. Many believers—these were Adventists, they did not see themselves yet as reformers—stood up during Sabbath services, saying that we need to remain pacifist. It’s one thing to be noncombatants, but it’s a totally different position to be combatants, to bear arms, to kill, and to break the Sabbath.

AToday members can read the entire article here (old site) and here (new site).

The other interviews in the series can be accessed here.

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Adventist News Network: August Round-up

Adventist Church sponsors its first religious liberty festival in Britain. 2,000 attend the ‘Free to Worship’ festival. (Victor Hulbert, John Surridge, Dan Serb and ANN staff, 26 Aug 2014)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Britain held its first religious liberty festival, in which Church leaders offered an overview of religious freedom developments and urged Church members to continue defending rights for people of all faiths and beliefs.

In Venezuela, Adventists participate in city-wide impact in capital city. Initiative is second annual community service event. (Josben Rodriguez/IAD staff, 20 Aug 2014)

Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists took a week off from their busy schedules for a major community impact event in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas from August 4-9. The six-day initiative drew more than 2,000 volunteers offering a smile, sharing hope, and cleaning dozens of parks, streets and neighborhoods throughout the city.

Adventist Church’s anti-abuse initiative set for August 23. Church leaders urge all congregations to participate; resources available. (Ansel Oliver, 15 Aug 2014)

Seventh-day Adventist world church leaders are calling on all Adventist congregations to designate a portion of their August 23 church service to mark the EndItNow Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day. The Adventist Church’s annual day of emphasis brings awareness to the issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other forms of mistreatment.

Guatemalan president encourages Adventist youth congress delegates to be agents of change. Community service projects, health outreach are highlights. (Libna Stevens/IAD/ANN, 6 Aug 2014)

 Young people built eight homes in extreme poor communities, repaired five sporting courts, remodeled four classrooms, cleaned up streets and have provided food to poor communities and nursing homes throughout Guatemala.

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Brown: A Life that Matters

Nathan Brown continues his engaging series with a reflection on the life and writings of Ellen White, specifically in relation to the great controversy. Read the entire article here–A Life that Matters (Adventist World, 11 Aug 2014). Excerpts:

For a variety of reasons, I have been reading quite a lot of Ellen White’s writings over the past couple years, and I have been struck repeatedly by the significance she recognized in life here and now. One of her major themes is that this life matters. The choices, priorities, attitudes, actions, and lifestyle we adopt today make a difference for today and forever, for us and for others—and this emphasis continues to be seen particularly in the Adventist church’s expansive health, education, and welfare work around the world.

[At White's funeral] Daniells used remarkably strong language to summarize her call for action in the world in response to the issues of her day: “Slavery, the caste system, unjust racial prejudices, the oppression of the poor, the neglect of the unfortunate,—these all are set forth as unchristian and a serious menace to the well-being of the human race, and as evils which the church of Christ is appointed by her Lord to overthrow” ([Life Sketches of Ellen G. White], p. 473).

The entire article is available here.

To Brown’s article I add a quote from White that I read recently:

“Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose” (Ellen White, The Adventist Home, p. 33).

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White: Pride and Superiority

Some of us who enjoy certain cultural and economic privileges may at times be tempted to think we are better than those who do not enjoy such status. And we may be tempted to use these privileges to benefit ourselves, ignoring the needs and rights of others. Ellen White speaks to these dangers near the end of The Great Controversy (“Desolation of the Earth“), describing the experience of those who valued their wealth over the things of God.

The rich prided themselves upon their superiority to those who were less favored; but they had obtained their riches by violation of the law of God. They had neglected to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to deal justly, and to love mercy. They had sought to exalt themselves and to obtain the homage of their fellow creatures. Now they are stripped of all that made them great and are left destitute and defenseless. They look with terror upon the destruction of the idols which they preferred before their Maker. They have sold their souls for earthly riches and enjoyments, and have not sought to become rich toward God. The result is, their lives are a failure; their pleasures are now turned to gall, their treasures to corruption. The gain of a lifetime is swept away in a moment. The rich bemoan the destruction of their grand houses, the scattering of their gold and silver. But their lamentations are silenced by the fear that they themselves are to perish with their idols. (p. 654)

Reflection Questions

  1. If someone looked at my check book or credit card statement, what values would they find evidence for?
  2. Am I ever tempted to believe I’m superior to someone? What might the Spirit being trying to whisper to me in this regard if I am quiet and listen?
  3. What am I pursuing with my time, energy and finances?
  4. How might I personally get involved with social action (“feed the hungry, clothe the naked, deal justly, and love mercy”)?
  5. When my end comes, what will I have wanted to have given my life to?
  6. How do I define failure and success?
  7. What biblical support can be made for White’s assertion?
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