Local Seventh-day Adventist Church officials in West Africa held a groundbreaking ceremony recently for the con- struction of an Adventist uni- versity in Liberia, the first denominational tertiary insti-tution in the nation and the fourth in the church’s West-Central Africa Division.
UNIVERSITY CONSTRUCTION:Adventist education leaders in West Africa speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the future Adventist University of West Africa, located near Monrovia, Liberia. The school will be the first Adventist university in the country.The school will be called Adventist University of West Africa, so named for its location within the denomination’s West African Union Mission, with headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. The construction site is located on 100 acres of land in Gbeh Town in Margibi County.
When completed, the school will initially launch as a junior college and offer two-year associate degrees in education, business, nursing, and theology.
Government officials have previously commended the Adventist Church for its contribution to education in the nation. The church there operates several elementary and secondary schools, including the country’s only boarding school.
The development of a university marks the church’s first tertiary education offering in Liberia, and church officials hope to contribute to national development following periods of civil war.
Shelton Beedoe, acting president of the Adventist University of West Africa, was quoted in a local newspaper, The Inquirer, as saying the university would offer a “new dynamism” to the educational sector of Liberia and that the university will make a difference among other universities in the nation.
Liberia’s director of the National Commission on Higher Education said the Adventist Church’s development of a university was “long overdue,” since the beginning of Adventist work in the country 83 years ago.
The commissioner also said the endeavor supports the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy in the area of manpower development.
Liberian and Adventist leaders attended the March 27 ceremony, including the assistant minister of operation of the Ministry of Public Works, members of the National Legislature, and J. A. Kayode Makinde, president of the church’s Babcock University in Nigeria.
According to The Inquirer, Makinde said, “AUWA needs to grow so as to meet the educational needs of Africa to reduce the illiteracy rate and reduce the poverty rate around the continent.”
During the ceremony, a representative of the denomination’s Columbia Union Conference presented a $50,000 check to the construction project. Columbia Union is the administrative unit of the Adventist Church in the Eastern Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The establishment of the university dates back to 2003, when Liberia’s legislature granted a university charter to the Adventist Church’s Liberia Mission. But the project was delayed by civil skirmishes and the lack of a permit from the National Commission on Higher Education. The permit was later granted in 2010, and the Liberia Mission acquired land for the project.
The school will be the eighteenth Adventist university in Africa.
Liberia is home to some 3.8 million people, with approximately 26,000 Adventist Church members, according to local records. —Emmanuel Gamoe Kla George with Ansel Oliver
Dozens of deaf people in Kenya were baptized in mid-February, during a visit by denominational leaders who specialize in reaching this population group. The visit and the baptisms were a welcome sign of recognition for a community that is not always well supported in the church (see “Do We Hear Them?” February 2012).
DEAF BAPTISM: Baptismal scene as deaf individuals in Kenya are welcomed into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A total of 38 deaf converts were baptized during a recent visit by deaf ministry leaders.Larry Evans, International Deaf Ministries liaison at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, organized a visit featuring several deaf ministry leaders, John Blake of Gospel Outreach Deaf Ministry from Canada; David Trexler of Three Angels’ Deaf Ministries; and Thompson Kay, a director of Team Education Centre. With Paul Muasya, East African Union president, the group spent 11 days visiting deaf ministries throughout Kenya. First stop was the DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) International regional headquarters in Ongata Rongai, near Nairobi. The ministry, which is connected with Wycliffe Bible Translators, translates sections of the Bible into sign language for Africa and Asia.
Next, the group traveled to Mombasa for the wedding of two deaf Seventh-day Adventists, groom Dickens Otieno and bride Lydia Khakay. In attendance were many deaf people from Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Nakuru.
In a Sabbath morning message, Evans urged the congregation to support the work to reach deaf individuals, as well as deaf members. On Sabbath afternoon deaf Adventists made several presentations including songs and testimonies in sign language. Deaf church members participated during the divine service—the children’s story was given by a deaf woman, and during Sabbath school deaf members conducted their own lesson discussions.
Over the next two days the group visited several schools for deaf people and observed the two baptismal ceremonies performed by local pastors. —with information from Catherine Nyameino-Ontita, East African Union
FOUNDATION STONE: Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi of Rwanda (second from left) joins General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson and East-Central Africa Division president Blasious Ruguri to lay foundation stones for a satellite campus of the Adventist University of Central Africa. Wilson visited Rwanda in March 2012 as part of a regional itinerary.eventh-day Adventists in Rwanda are committed to bolstering society and bringing unity and reconciliation to the East African nation, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson said at a March 3, 2012, Sabbath worship service at Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali.
Wilson commended the spirit of camaraderie he observed. The nation continues to heal after genocide claimed the lives of as many as 800,000 people in 1994. The region has experienced intermittent war for decades between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
Several government officials, including Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi and Kigali mayor Fidele Ndayisaba, were present for worship services, which drew a congregation of more than 30,000 people.
Wilson reminded government representatives that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to supporting Rwandan society through education, health, and spiritual programs. The General Conference president also took the opportunity to thank national officials for protecting religious liberty in the country.
“May it always be said that the country of Rwanda provides religious freedom for all its people,” Wilson said, citing the government’s policy to allow Seventh-day Adventists to complete their national community service on Sunday rather than Saturday, the Bible Sabbath.
Earlier in the week Habumuremyi joined Wilson in laying the foundation stone for an expansion of the Adventist University of Central Africa. The new School of Science and Technology in Kigali will “help advance God’s work,” Wilson said, adding that the extension campus will serve many Rwandans in the community, not just Adventists. —with information from Adventist News Network
Every school day approximately 220 children cross the border from Mexicali, Mexico, to enter the U.S. at Calexico, California, about 120 miles east of San Diego. The two towns, sister cities, share something else: education provided for youngsters by a Seventh-day Adventist mission school that recently marked its seventy-fifth anniversary.
ACADEMY ANNIVERSARY: Alan Bohman, left, a former principal of Calexico Mission School, interviews Alfredo Loreto, a CMS student from 1965-1966, during a reunion honoring the Seventh-day Adventist institution’s seventy-fifth anniversary.The commemoration included a worship service with a sermon by a former teacher, Bernardo Sámano, an afternoon concert featuring the reunion of the school’s Mission Singers musical group, and an evening fair at which funds were raised for school needs. Although some of the more than 100 alumni who came to commemorate the occasion traveled from as far away as Lincoln, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C., most who came were from nearby, in Mexico. Located 20 feet from the international fence and only two blocks from the Mexico-U.S.A. border crossing, Calexico Mission School (CMS) has been fulfilling its purpose of sharing the gospel since 1937.
“The school sits as a mission right on the fence between the United States and Mexico. Many students that have [attended] the school have gone on to become leaders in our church,” said Alan Bohman, a former CMS principal.
What began as a 30-student, one-teacher classroom blossomed into a K-12 Adventist institution that once boasted a student population of more than 400, and currently enrolls 275. Most parents send their children to CMS so that they can receive a United States education and learn English, but teachers and staff of the school convey far more than the basics. Approximately 90 percent of the student body is not Advent-ist, but come to the school for its educational excellence. While there, more than a few of these students embrace the Adventist message. —with information from Nic Lindquist, Calexico Mission School
Academics, Pastors Unite in Chile for Theological Symposium
More than 400 participants spent five days in August at Chile Adventist University in Chillán, in intense Bible study and discussion about the book of Revelation, which presents the gospel message for the end times.
The meeting marked the tenth edition of an academic symposium uniting university professors, administrators, pastors, and theology students in South America. During the inaugural session, Joel Leiva, Chile Adventist University professor and event organizing-committee secretary, reminded participants that South America’s contributions to global Adventism not only included explosive growth and innovative evangelism, but also profound biblical and theological reflection.
STRUCTURAL PRESENTATION:Ranko Stevanovic, professor of New Testament at Andrews University spoke on the structure of the Book of Revelation during the Tenth South American Theological Symposium at the Adventist University of Chile.In 20 plenary sessions, presented by specialists and invited speakers from different regions of the world church, participants were reminded that the book of Revelation is not only a book of prophetic symbols and eschatological perspective, but is truly the gospel, given for a decisive moment in history. More than 70 parallel sessions showcased current research into the apocalypse in South America and stimulated hearty discussions. Gluder Quispe, professor at the Peruvian Union University in Lima, Peru, provided in his plenary presentation a panoramic view about how Adventists have interpreted this crucial biblical book throughout the history of the movement. Quispe noted the transition from a mostly historical perspective to a more theological and exegetical approach.
During the Sabbath worship service Erton Köhler, South American Division president, preached a sermon highlighting the need for Adventist universities to prepare pastors who are profound thinkers with a pastoral vision. Noting the close links between Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22, Köhler asserted that re-creation and a new Jerusalem without belief in God’s original creation would not make any sense. He encouraged those present to “use the book of Revelation to bring hope” to a world that is increasingly more hopeless. Besides an intense program of quality research presentations and challenging devotionals, participants enjoyed moments of fellowship throughout the days, helped by the hospitable environment provided by Chile Adventist University.
On Sabbath evening four former rectors of SALT received plaques recognizing their contribution to Adventist education in South America. Amid heartfelt applause Mario Veloso, Enrique Becerra, Wilson Endruveit, and Alberto Timm were honored for their leadership in developing the theological program of the South American Division. Following that, Chile Adventist University gave honorary doctorates to Mario Veloso and Sergio Olivares for their theological contribution to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America.
Prior to the final plenary session focusing upon the eternal gospel contained in the apocalypse, the participants voted a consensus statement, affirming 10 crucial elements related to the interpretation and proclamation of the book of Revelation. Reinaldo Siqueira, current rector of SALT, announced the next symposium to be held in Brazil at Brazil Adventist University(Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo) in 2015 that will focus upon the life, work, and mission of Ellen G. White.
Miguel Ángel Núñez, a pastor in northern Chile, enjoyed the spirit of the symposium. “As always, it was a wonderful opportunity to renew old friendships and get up-to-date on Adventist scholarship about Revelation.”
Segundo Correa, dean of the theology faculty of Bolivia Adventist University, felt that the symposia awakened and promoted stronger biblical-theological research in South America. Carlos Steger, dean of the theology faculty of River Plate Adventist University in Argentina, appreciated the quality and the sheer breadth of the presentations. “I am returning home intellectually enriched and spiritually inspired,” he said. Participants left Chillán not only enriched and inspired—they also departed ready to share the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ.
A Web site containing the papers presented at the seminar will be available online before the end of 2013. —Gerald A. Klingbeil, associate editor, Adventist World
Young Austrian Seventh-day Adventist Finds Council “Interesting”
He’s a 22-year-old university student from Graz, Austria, the country’s second-largest city and a 120-mile drive south and west of Vienna. And he’s a delegate to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 2013 Annual Council, his third time at the world headquarters.
YOUNG DELEGATE: Stefan Giuliani, a 22-year-old university student from Graz, Austria, listens to proceedings of the 2013 Annual Council at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 15, 2013.But Stefan Giuliani is not a worker for the church, nor is he even a member of the Austrian Union’s executive committee. Instead, he’s a “lay delegate,” and, specifically, one of the younger delegates participating in the church’s annual business sessions.
For Giuliani, however, the impact of these meetings is more personal: the sessions, he said, are “very interesting. After all, coming here always is really motivating. It gives you the feeling that Adventists all over the world are accomplishing a lot. At home I tend to see difficulties rather than opportunities, problems rather than successes.”
And not without reason: Austria, like the rest of Western Europe, is struggling to find faith after decades of secularism. While the Roman Catholic Church is the “traditional” religion in Austria, Giuliani—who said he’s unaware of any family relationship to the former New York City mayor of the same last name—says his peers view religious activity as something alien to their daily lives.
“They don’t know what to do with religion,” he explained. “It’s meaningless to them; they have no point of reference” from which they can discuss it.
At an age when most young adults contemplate their future and the hope of rising through executive ranks in a commercial enterprise, Giuliani said that the corner office isn’t his goal. Though he hopes to complete his dual degrees in business administration and political economics and have a career as an accountant or company comptroller, he doesn’t dream of corporate success.
Professionally, “it would be great to be able to serve the [Adventist] Church, but there are few opportunities to do that,” he said. He is active in the 160-member Graz Seventh-day Adventist Church and leads its youth group, where 20 to 25 young adults attend weekly. He also helps the union’s youth department.
“I wouldn’t care for working in top management,” he added, since that would require “60 to 70 hours a week, with no time left for family, let alone church. I want time to be active to serve people.” —reported by Mark A. Kellner, news editor
Generosity of Members Crucial to Church’s Mission, Treasurer Says
The Seventh-day Adventist Church members returned to the Lord US$2.33 billion in tithe worldwide last year, treasurer Robert E. Lemon told 2013 Annual Council delegates on October 14.
Tithe from divisions outside of North America increased 4.4 percent, for a total of close to $1.4 billion. Tithe returned in the North American Division for 2012 was up about 1 percent from 2011 and totaled $933 million. In the church’s South American Division alone, members returned nearly $530 million in tithe.
Mission offerings from outside North America similarly rose, reaching about $60 million, a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, mission offerings from North America dipped 2.6 percent, but still totaled nearly $23 million.
Commenting on the results, Lemon said the generosity of church members led by God’s spirit, not appropriations, will finish the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And young laypeople, more often than senior administrators, will ignite that work.
He acknowledged that his prediction might seem out of character—even “meddlesome”—in the context of a financial report to Annual Council delegates, but the Adventist world church treasurer is convinced that it’s time for a sea change in how the church is funded and directed.
BRING IN YOUTH: Adventist world church treasurer Robert E. Lemon calls for more inclusion of young adults in more financial decision-making in the denomination during his report to Annual Council on October 14.First, he wants to see more grassroots financial support for projects.
“Our church has a history of thinking that if a project is worthwhile, it must have millions and millions of dollars of funding behind it, but the work isn’t going to be finished by the money in the [church’s] bank account,” Lemon said.
One case in point is the Great Controversy Project, he said. The book distribution project received less funding from the General Conference budget than Adventist world church headquarters spent on travel expenses for delegates to attend Annual Council. But members worldwide who supported the project shared more than 140 million copies of the book, which was authored by church cofounder Ellen G. White.
Going forward, Lemon said he and other church financial leaders would like to see more projects that empower laypeople to take similar initiatives.
“When God’s children get excited about something, they take money out of their pockets,” Lemon said.
Meanwhile, church financial leaders will continue to concentrate funding in areas with little or no Adventist presence. In Pakistan $300,000 will fund a shelter for at-risk girls. In Myanmar $400,000 will pay to reopen the Yangon Adventist International School. Another $500,000 will go toward building a center of influence and a vegetarian restaurant in Brunei, where an Adventist presence is not yet established.
Delegates also approved a proposal to send $570,000 to the MORE Project, which publishes books and pamphlets contextualized for other religious audiences. Another $4 million will step up production at the media center in the church’s Middle East and North Africa Union. Currently the media center produces programming in Arabic, but local leaders are eager to expand to other languages.
It was no coincidence, then, when he asked delegates to approve a proposal to use the 2015 General Conference session offering collected at the 2015 General Conference session as well by the world church on three Sabbaths in 2014 and 2015 to fund outreach and evangelism projects overseen by Adventist young people ages 25 and under. Projects would receive approval from committees on which 75 percent of the members will be young adults.
“It’s time that we tell our young people that we not only trust them to do the work, but also trust them to make decisions as to how to spend the money of the church,” Lemon said.
“It’s interesting how our perception of youth has changed,” Lemon said, noting that a study of early church history reveals that most of the church’s founders were teenagers or 20-somethings. “Young people” when the church was established 150 years ago were not the late-30- and 40-somethings who are labeled “young” administrators today, Lemon said.
He urged delegates to take advantage of upcoming opportunities to “leave young people a seat at the table of decision-making.” In early 2014 each of the church’s 13 divisions will select delegates to the 2015 General Conference session.
“We have the young people. We have the women, who constitute a majority of our church. We have the funds, although most of it is still in our own pockets. And we have the blessings of the Lord. This work is going to be finished. The question is Are we going to be a part of it? Or are we just going to have to move out of the way?” Lemon asked delegates.
“We are one church, one family, and we have a work to finish,” he said. —reported by Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network
Treasurer Says North American Tithe Up1 Percent, 4.4 Percent Other Regions
In 1899 the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist Church had only $55.33 in a bank account in Battle Creek, Michigan. Two years later the financial landscape had worsened. The church was some $40,000 in debt. The fiscal crisis would spur early Adventists to reorganize the church’s priorities at the turn of the century.
On April 15, 2013, Spring Meeting delegates heard a considerably more optimistic report about their church’s financial standing—a testament to the faithfulness of membership worldwide and the prudent handling of funds at the various levels of the church, church financial officers said.
FINANCIAL FOCUS: Adventist Church treasurer Robert E. Lemon reports to Spring Meeting delegates that the Adventist world church received about $2.3 billion in tithe last year.Tithe returned in the North American Division for 2012 was up about 1 percent from 2011 and totaled US$933 million. Tithe from divisions outside North America increased 4.4 percent, for a total of close to $1.4 billion.
Mission offerings from outside North America similarly rose, reaching about $60 million, a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, mission offerings returned in North America dipped 2.6 percent, totaling nearly $23 million.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in mission giving by divisions outside of North America,” Adventist world church treasurer Robert E. Lemon told Adventist News Network. “But I want to point out that in North America local churches often give to many projects directly, or their members go on mission trips. These acts of mission giving go uncounted.”
Spring Meeting delegates yesterday also heard initial recommendations to appropriate the church’s supplemental budget of nearly $14 million.
“The blessing of the Lord has been evident in the giving and administration of our church,” said Adventist world church undertreasurer Juan Prestol. “We praise the Lord for that.”
Delegates voted to approve one of the appropriations—$300,000 to South Sudan. Since Sudan’s split in 2011, most of the Adventist population has shifted to Christian-majority South Sudan. The appropriation from Adventist world church headquarters will fund much-needed infrastructure for the church there and pay off some existing facilities in the cities of Juba and Malakal.
Delegates also approved a $7 million supplemental budget appropriation for the church’s General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) as it phases in a new funding structure. Starting in January, a portion of audits will be funded by the audited organizations. After four years, funding for GCAS audits will be paid 80 percent by institutions, and 20 percent by conferences, unions, and divisions, Lemon said.
Delegates also heard an item regarding Hope Channel—the Adventist Church’s official television network. Prestol noted that Hope Channel would require approximately $8 million more than is currently budgeted for the network to continue providing current satellite coverage through 2020. The matter is expected to undergo further study later this year before delegates are asked to act, Prestol added. If approved, funding would come from the so-called extraordinary tithe, which was a one-time payment of $102 million in tithe to the Adventist Church in 2007. —reported by Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network
Landless Director-elect of Adventist Church’s Health Ministries Department
Delegates of the 2013 Spring Meeting voted April 14, 2013 to elect Dr. Peter Landless, a physician and pastor, as director-elect of the Seventh-day Adventist world church’sHealth Ministries Department. Landless will replace current director Dr. Allan Handysides, who has announced he will retire in September.
Delegates also received the names of two nominees for other vacancies at the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring in the U.S. state of Maryland. They elected Jesse Johnson to fill a vacancy on the Adventist World Radio board. Johnson is currently president of netAserve, which provides technology support to the Adventist Church.
UNITED IN PRAYER: Dr. Allan Handysides, right, retiring director of the Adventist world church’s Health Ministries Department, prays for director-elect Dr. Peter Landless, center, with Adventist world church president Ted Wilson. "We pray that grace will permeate our lives. "May each of us be a beacon o call others from the darkness of sin."Kimberly Westfall will serve as associate director for quality control for the General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS). Westfall currently works as GCAS regional manager in the church’s North American Division territory. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is a certified public accountant.
Landless, who has served as an associate director for the church’s Health Ministries Department since early 2002, has advocated for compassionate and comprehensive health ministry, urging each church to act as a health-care center to the surrounding community. His career has spanned clinical practice, research, teaching, and administration, both academically and in the Adventist Church. The South African native began practicing medicine in 1974. He has since completed specialties in family medicine, internal medicine, and cardiology.
“It has been a pleasure to work with someone who has been a true friend and colleague,” Handysides said of Landless. “We’ve worked together as a team. I support [this nomination] with all my heart.”
Adventist world church president Ted N. C. Wilson said he was pleased that Landless brings not only an impressive medical career to the job, but also solid spiritual qualifications.
“[Peter] has functioned as a pastor and continues to provide pastoral guidance,” Wilson said. “Any of you who know him know he has a deep concern and care for each of us.”
A formal tribute for Handysides is expected to take place in October at the church’s Annual Council business session. Until then, Handysides and Landless will work as codirectors.
Church officers will work closely with Landless to find a replacement for him, Wilson said, adding that they expect the new associate will share a similar passion for comprehensive health ministry.
Newly Released Footage shows Family of Imprisoned Pastor in Togo
Anew video featuring the family of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor imprisoned in Togo was published on YouTube by the church’s world headquarters in April 2013, the latest step in the effort to obtain signatures petitioning the government for his release.
The move is part of ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Antonio Monteiro from detainment on unsupported charges, church leaders said.
A WIFE’S PLEA: Mandalena dos Anjos, wife of imprisoned pastor Antonio Monteiro, is interviewed on camera about the separation of her family in Togo. “We have never been apart for this long,” she said.Church leaders said they are hoping to obtain 1 million signatures to the petition, which will be brought to government officials.
“The Adventist Church for the first time is showing the pictures of his wife and family to help church and community members worldwide understand the importance of signing the online petition,” said Williams Costa, Jr., communication director for the Adventist world church.
“They are part of our family, and we want people to understand how much they are suffering by missing a husband and father,” Costa said. “We’re asking all members and those who support justice to join the petition.”
Monteiro has been in prison for more than one year. Togolese government officials last month rejected the Adventist Church’s fifth request for Monteiro’s release, according to a lawyer from the church’s Sahel Union Mission working closely on the case.
Monteiro was detained for conspiracy to commit murder after a Togolese man implicated him and two other Christians, one an Adventist, as conspirators in an alleged criminal ring that trafficked human blood. The witness had earlier confessed to the murder of some 20 young girls, claiming he was only carrying out orders.
However, the witness has a documented history of mental instability, and his statement is widely considered unreliable, a representative from the National Commission of Human Rights in Togo said.
Evidence and testimony additionally suggest that the statement implicating Monteiro was obtained under duress.
Church leaders said the witness met Monteiro when the pastor previously ministered to him.
A native of Cape Verde, Monteiro had since 2009 served as the church’s Sabbath school and personal ministries director for the Sahel Union Mission, headquartered in Lomé. A police search of Monteiro’s home and local church headquarters shortly after his arrest failed to produce any evidence of his connection to the case.
Public pressure to solve the string of murders likely thwarted his release and exoneration, church officials said. Prior to Monteiro’s arrest, human rights groups and a local women’s coalition accused Togolese police of not doing enough to solve the crimes.