WORLD CHURCH: Philippines Ambassador, Husband and Father of Adventists, Visits World Headquarters
As the Seventh-day Adventist Church plans to hold its Annual Council in Manila, Philippines, in October 2008, the Pacific nation’s U.S. Ambassador recently met with leaders of the world church.
DISTINGUISHED VISITORS: Ambassador and
Mrs. Willy C. Gaa, at left, from the Republic
of the Philippines, met Pastor Jan Paulsen,
center, world president of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, and John Graz, public affairs
and religious liberty director, during a visit to the
church’s global head-quarters in Silver Spring,
Philippine Ambassador Willy C. Gaa told Jan Paulsen, Adventist world church president, and others, that he was pleased to welcome Adventist delegates to his country next year. He made those remarks during an August 30 visit to the world church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
The church’s Annual Council is usually held in October at the church’s headquarters near Washington, D.C. The last such meeting held outside the United States was in 1998 in Brazil.
“The Philippines is probably one of the very few countries in Asia where freedom of religion is respected,” Gaa noted. The Ambassador’s wife and two sons are Seventh-day Adventists; one son is also a graduate of Andrews University.
Church leaders commended the Philippine government for supporting religious freedom, noting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s hour-long meeting with delegates from the International Religious Liberty Association during its 2002 world congress.
During their first meeting, both Gaa and Paulsen remarked on the Adventist Church’s impact in the South Asian nation. Gaa thanked Adventists for humanitarian programs the church has implemented there.
Paulsen said the Adventist Church has long committed to raising awareness of health issues and establishing educational infrastructure—the church operates one of the largest global networks of integrated private schools, second only to the Roman Catholic Church, the most prominent faith in the Philippines.
“Clearly we are also dealing with eternity and spiritual values, but we also have to address the life we are now living in,” Paulsen said.
Approximately 537,000 Seventh-day Adventists live in the Philippines, and there are thousands of expatriate Filipino Adventists in North America, the Middle East and other regions, church leaders note.
—by Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Newtwork, with AW Staff.