Adventists Organize in Channel Islands
One of the few places in the United Kingdom without a sustained Seventh-day Adventist presence is now finding one, thanks to the migration of members to the region—and the help of Britain’s South East Conference.
The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey are among the world’s most desirable—and expensive—places in which to live. The islands, about 12 miles off the northwest coast of France, were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933, according to online references. In 1066, William II of Normandy, a vassal to the king of France, invaded and conquered England, becoming William I of England, also known as William the Conqueror. Since 1204, the loss of the rest of the monarch’s lands in mainland Normandy has meant that the Channel Islands have been governed as separate possessions of the British Crown.
Noted for their tourism and off-shore banking centers, the islands, whose combined population is about 160,000, now count about 14 Seventh-day Adventists between them, as well as at least two people interested in the church’s message.
ADVENTISTS IN JERSEY: Mount Orgueil Castle is an iconic image of the British Channel Island of Jersey. Adventists are now holding regular worship meetings in Jersey and Guernsey and hope to organize congregations there.“A few young islanders in Jersey and Guernsey had been praying that one day they would once again be able to experience the vibes from a good old Sabbath school gathering,” Tambu Muoni told the British Union’s news service.
According to Muoni, “We were all very encouraged when the South England Conference contacted us and, last August, Pastor Aristotle Vontzalidis, [the conference’s church growth] director, along with his wife, visited us and had a meeting … in Guernsey.”
Vontzalidis returned to the Channel Islands in May 2008, and this time a hospital chapel on Jersey was the setting for Sabbath worship and a communion service.
Muoni wrote, “Alternating between the islands, members now plan to meet more often on a regular basis and fellowship together. We believe that one day through God’s grace the church will continue to grow and that soon there will be established churches on both islands.
“The South England Conference has long wanted to establish an Adventist presence on the islands,” Muoni noted. “Over the years literature distribution and even [literature evangelists] have played their part. However, it is the global village of immigration that is helping bring the dream to a reality.”
The Channel Islands have a rich and storied history. Victor Hugo spent many years in exile, first in Jersey and then in Guernsey where he wrote Les Misérables. Guernsey is also the setting of Hugo’s later novel, Les Travailleurs De La Mer (The Toilers of the Sea). The islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth to be occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War. The five-year occupation was marked by extreme privation and cruelty. Today, the islands are prime tourist destinations for many in the United Kingdom and Europe.
—BUC news with Adventist World staff.