Adventists Respond to Mass Shooting in Florida

“Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Florida and California have reached out to LGBT+ communities in the wake of yesterday’s massacre at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida. The shooting claimed the lives of fifty people and wounded fifty-three more,” reports Jared Wright for Spectrum.

Wright continues: “The Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apopka, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Geoff Paterson, announced on Facebook that it would hold free funeral services for any of the victims of the shooting.”

 Image above is a screenshot taken from Facebook

Image above is a screenshot taken from Facebook

“On the opposite coast, the Glendale City Adventist Church in Glendale, California will host a community vigil to honor the victims tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14). From 11:00 am to 7:30 pm, the doors of the sanctuary will be open for mourning and reflection. At 7:30 pm, the church will host a service of remembrance.” Read Spectrum’s full article here.

The Glendale City Adventist Church is a member of the Adventist Peace Fellowship Peace Church Network.

Additionally, pastor Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, released a statement about the mass shooting.
This is an excerpt from his statement:

We strongly denounce the hate that led to this mass shooting. This type of senseless violence has no place in this country or in this world. It is appalling that these lives were tragically cut short because of hate. We pray that God’s love will comfort and console the victims’ loved ones whose lives have become a nightmare overnight.

As Christians, we strongly believe that hate, for anyone, brother, sister, friend or enemy, comes not from God, but from the father of evil himself, the devil. We must condemn all expressions of hate, from speech to deadly violence. All of the women, children, and men in this world, regardless of whether they worship, live, or love like us, are children of God.”

Jackson’s complete statement can be read on the NAD website

Church responds to terrorist attack in Brussels

On March 22, the Adventist News Network put out two articles regarding the three coordinated bombings that took place in Brussels, Belgium that day. A statement from the EUD Public Relations department reported that no Adventist church members had been affected, but encouraged members to “draw close to all who are suffering, in these times of great anguish.”

On terrorism, the statement read:

Firm and unconditional is our condemnation of all acts of terror, violence and oppression. May weapons, hate and violence cease! No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism. We are all brothers and sisters, children of one same Father.

See the full article here.

Seventh-day Adventist World Church President Ted Wilson also issued a statement in response to the the bombings:

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Brussels who have sustained terrible explosions causing death and destruction. One of those blasts was very near our Seventh-day Adventist headquarters for that region. I have prayed for the people of Belgium and for our church members who can be a spiritual strength to others in this very difficult time. We thank our youth for having encouraged many in the city,  including the police station, this last Sabbath on Global Youth Day....may our youth and members continue to provide Christ’s ministry of love and compassion  in Total Member Involvement during this traumatic situation. Today, during our General Conference committees, we will earnestly pray for the country of Belgium, our church members and the families affected by this terrible tragedy.

See original statement here.

Lincoln Peacemakers pledge 10,000 acts of peace toward worldwide effort

Chris Blake is an Associate Professor of English and Communication at Union College. He’s also the Chair of Lincoln’s Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition, an organization which—in celebration of their 30th anniversary—has pledged to lead their community in committing “10,000 acts of peace.” This goal was set in support of a ten-year international initiative, “One Billion Acts of Peace,” led by the PeaceJam Foundation. To learn more about PeaceJam, Lincoln’s peacemaking goal or their upcoming event, read the full article from the Lincoln Journal Star.

Renewed Heart Ministries Podcast

Pastor Herb Montgomery, through his ministry Renewed Heart Ministries, deals with many themes relevant to Adventist peacemakers. For starters, check out his recent podcast that draws on the notable work of Walter Wink -- Renouncing Rights (more podcasts).

His earlier series on nonviolence is quality as well: "The Active, Nonviolence of Jesus" – Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9.

Contest: Name the New APF Podcast

The Adventist Peace Fellowship will soon launch a podcast, and it needs a name. What do you think would be a great name for it? Here's how the contest will run:

  1. Participants submit ideas via the APF Contact page.
  2. The deadline is Sunday, February 7, 2016.
  3. The APF Board of Directors will select the winning podcast name.
  4. The winner will receive a copy of Do Justice (Brown and Darby, 2015), and they will also be mentioned in the first podcast.

Thanks for sharing your creative ideas with us!

Walla Walla University—Peace Week 2016

Walla Walla University will be hosting another peacemaking week, which will coincide with Martin Luther King Jr Day (Jan. 18-23). See the flyer below for more details (and click here to read about WWU's 2015 peace week).

Screenshot (70)

You may also download the flyer -- Peacemaking_MLK Poster (PDF).

ASRS Releases Statement on Refugee Crisis

The Adventist Society for Religious Studies (ASRS) recently released the following statement on the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe:

Statement on the Refugee Crisis Adventist Society for Religious Studies November 21, 2015

In light of the present refugee crisis engulfing the globe, we as a body of religion scholars who are committed to the full gospel of Jesus Christ who said, “I was a stranger and you took me in” (Matt. 25:38); and who take seriously the Word of God in Deut. 23:9 that we must not oppress the strangers “because we were strangers in the land of Egypt” (cf. Lev. 19:34), the Adventist Society of Religious Studies asserts the following:

  • As sojourners and pilgrims ourselves, we recognize that we are all expatriates who have been called to manifest the principles of God’s eternal kingdom in all of our decisions.
  • As people with patriotic sympathies, we understand the power of the type of fear that saps human compassion, but we believe that we ought to always practice the perfect love that casts out all fear.
  • As creatures of national cultures, we acknowledge that we are comfortable with the familiar; however, our commitment to Christ compels us to reject xenophobia, outright racism and competitive religious extremism.
  • As members of the human family, we accept all men and women as our siblings, regardless of their religious confession or country of origin.
  • As followers of Christ, we will be the Good Samaritan to the victims of war; we will willingly clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned and receive the refugee. We invite others to do the same.

Johnsson Addresses Interfaith Dialogue at ASRS

The theme of this year's Adventist Society for Religious Studies (ASRS) annual conference was "Adventism in the Public Square." William Johnsson, who was the first president of ASRS, gave the following sermon entitled, "Leaving the Comfort Zone: From John the Baptist to Jesus."

Dr. William Johnson's Sermon "Leaving the Comfort Zone: From John the Baptist to Jesus" at the Adventist Society for Religious Study 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA on Sabbath morning, November 21, 2015. Dr Johnson was the first President of the ASRS in 1979.

Adventists Offer Prayer and Support in Paris Tragedy (ANN)

The Adventist News Network, the official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, published the following story. The Seventh-day Adventist Church and its members worldwide offered prayers and support for Paris after a series of shootings and explosions killed scores of people.

France declared a state of emergency and closed its borders after at least 100 people were reported killed in a concert hall and others died attacks on restaurants and near a stadium on Friday night.

Mario Brito, president of the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division, whose territory includes France, voiced “deep consternation” over the events in Paris. “We express our solidarity with all French people,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

The Inter-European Division noted in the same statement that twin suicide bombings killed at least 43 people two days earlier in Beirut, Lebanon, a possible indication that “terrorism is growing more and more uncontrollable.”

The statement says: “Human life is precious in God's eyes. When people turn away from God's directions and wisdom, they become a threat to the freedom of those who unfortunately cross paths with these agents of Satan.”

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.

Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, said that “our hearts go out to the people and families suffering in the tragedy unfolding in Paris.”

“Please pray for a return to safety and peace,” he said on his Facebook page, adding, “May dire situations like this awaken all to the need for God and His love to be supreme in our lives as we see prophetic events taking place which herald the Lord's soon return.”

Adventist believers around the world took to social media to express their sorrow and to lift up the people of Paris in prayer. The hashtag #PrayforParis was trending on social media.

“Prayer unites us in terrible moments!” the Newbold Church in Bracknell, Britain, said on Facebook. “Remember our friends and family in Paris. What a tragedy.”

The Adventist-owned college, located on the campus of the church’s Newbold College of Higher Education, posted a black-and-white photo of praying hands with the words, “Pray for Paris, pray for France!”

ADRA International, the church’s humanitarian and relief agency tweeted that “our prayers are in Paris tonight.” “Please join and pray for our brothers and sisters who are now victims, survivors, hostages, and their families,” it said.

“Let’s keep Paris and the families affected by the tragedies in prayer,” said the Allegheny East Conference, which oversees the work of 96 historically African-American churches with 31,000 members in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

John Bradshaw, speaker and director of It Is Written television, said he was saddened but not surprised by the events.

“For me, one very sad thing about the terrible tragedy in Paris is that I'm not surprised it happened. And that neither are you,” he said, adding in French, “Dieu ait pitié,” or “God have mercy.”

Some church members expressed concern about what impact the attacks might have on migrants. Europe is grappling with its biggest migrant crisis since World War II as hundreds of thousands of people fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan seek to resettle on the continent.

“[I’m] devastated just thinking of the effects this will have on refugees already facing a terrible winter and more,” said Ashley Eisele, senior content manager for ADRA International.

Christopher Holland, speaker and director of It Is Written Canada, said the attacks offered a reminder that Jesus’ return was near. “The Paris situation reminds us that Satan is the ultimate terrorist, seeking whom he can destroy because he knows his time is short,” he said.

The Inter-European Division statement also focused on the hope of Jesus’ Second Coming. “We pray that the Lord may comfort those who are experiencing this unexpected and incomprehensible pain. We pray our Lord may strengthen the faith and hope of those who are waiting for His return to establish a new world where peace and mutual respect will reign for ever.”

Adventist Youth Join Demonstrations against Corruption in Honduras (ANN)

The Adventist News Network reports that "Adventist young people took to the streets of major cities in Honduras last week to as thousands of protesters from many faiths marched against government corruption. More than 10,000 Adventists holding signs and banners marched in Tegucigalpa, the capital, as well as in La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, and dozens of other cities" (posted on Adventist Today). There have been numerous marches recently calling for an end to political corruption. The report continues: "'Our Adventist young people gave a clear message to our Honduran population that unless citizens seriously commit to keeping all of the commandments of God, there won’t be positive changes to help the country forge ahead,' said Pastor Adan Ramos, president of the Adventist Church in Honduras. As part of the demonstration, Ramos spoke in the main squares of Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba."

Read the entire ANN article here.

Volunteer with APF at the 2015 GC Session in San Antonio

The 2015 General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church will soon convene in San Antonio, Texas (July 2-11). This world-wide gathering of Adventist leaders and laity occurs every five years for the purpose of making denominational decisions and electing leaders. The Adventist Peace Fellowship will have an exhibit at this year's event, and we are looking for people to join us at the booth, welcoming people who pass by. All you need is a friendly smile and a desire to spread APF's message of peace and justice. We'll help all volunteers prepare for the most common questions.

We need volunteers to sign up for hours when you can be at the booth, telling people about our actions and goals. We hope to have two or more people at the booth at all times.

Please click here to register as an APF representative at the booth.

And if you'll be at the GC Session, please stop by our booth even if you aren't able to volunteer with us. Come say hi!

See you in Texas!

APF Listed in Best Practices for Adventist Ministry

The Adventist Peace Fellowship was recently covered in Best Practices for Adventist Ministry, an email service provided by the Ministerial Department of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The email said:

The Adventist Peace Fellowship is a 501c3 non-profit organization and independent lay ministry founded in 2001 that seeks to raise consciousness about the centrality of peacemaking and social justice to the beliefs and heritage of Adventists.  We provide a wide array of resources for Adventist peacemakers, including a certification program for churches committed to working on peace and justice issues as a central part of their identity and mission.  Five Seventh-day Adventist churches spread across the United States have passed resolutions to be known as Adventist peace churches, and one church, Glendale City, has already completed certification.  One additional Adventist church located in a region of Papua New Guinea marked by constant violent tribal skirmishes has expressed a strong interest in becoming a peace church that models principles of nonviolent peacemaking and reconciliation.

The blurb linked to a longer article posted on the Ministerial Department website. The information can also be found on Facebook.

Glendale City Church Remembers the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (by Todd Leonard)

(The following article was submitted by Todd Leonard, pastor of Glendale City Church, the first Adventist church to become a fully certified Adventist Peace Church.) IMG_0891

In April 1915, an edict went out from the government of the waning Ottoman empire for the removal and execution from what is now Turkey of every Armenian, man, woman and child. Over the next ten years, approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed by gun, sword, drowning, crucifixion, immolation and more. Raphael Lemkin, a polish lawyer who spent his life working to prevent and punish those responsible for mass killings, coined the term “genocide” to describe what was done to the Armenian people.

On April 24, 2015, the nation of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora pause to grieve this atrocity, to give thanks for those who came to their defense during this time of terror and to protest governments, including Turkey and the United States, who still will not acknowledge this event for what it is: a holocaust upon the Armenian people.

The Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church is located in a city adjacent to Los Angeles whose population is made up of over 100,000 people of Armenian descent, almost half of Glendale’s citizenry. For the past 35 years, the church has hosted an Armenian-speaking worship service on its campus each Sabbath in addition to having a number of Armenian-descent members who worship in its English-speaking worship.

On April 18, this congregation hosted a Day of Remembrance, a collaborative worship gathering hosted by the English- and Armenian-speaking congregations. Dr. Hovik Saraffian, the pastor of the Armenian congregation and a voice for Armenian Adventists around the world, presented the history of the genocide, called for Turkey’s repentance and expressed confidence that God’s righteousness would ultimately be triumphant over all evils in our world. The 40-voice Armenian Society of Los Angeles Chorus provided traditional Armenian songs that celebrated the heritage of the Armenian people, lamented the atrocities of a century ago, grieved God’s apparent absence during this awful time and, at the same time, celebrated God’s work in courageous men and women who stood up to do the work of God in the face of monstrous violence.

Over 100 guests of Armenian descent attended the Day of Remembrance. Afterwards, you could hear people sharing the stories of their ancestors, how their parents made it to an orphanage or how their grandparents were able to escape to a neighboring country. One guest told me how her mother was being taken by boat with dozens of others into the Black Sea to be drowned. Just before she was thrown overboard, she was pulled aside because the executioners thought she must not be Armenian because of her blonde hair and blue eyes.

For those in attendance who were not of Armenian descent, it was an eye-opening experience to be immersed in the story of the genocide. Because the events that began in 1915 have never been formally acknowledged by the United States, many Americans grew up, myself included, never having a history lesson about what happened. Many people expressed their gratitude at the opportunity to learn of this history and experience the sorrow of their Armenian neighbors.

Hosting this gathering is part of Glendale City Church’s commitment to be an Adventist Peace Church working to follow Christ’s call to bring peace into our city through community service, ecumenical relationship-building and gatherings that highlight the need for and celebrate those who do the work of peacemaking locally and around the world.

The Day of Remembrance service can be viewed in its entirety online at www.CityChurch-Online.org.

Peacemaking through Medical Care

1 On March 12, 2015, students and professors gathered in Newbold auditorium at Andrews University to hear how doctors in western Galilee are using medicine to build trust and promote peace between Israel and Syria. Dr. Arie Eisenman and Dr. Ohad Ronen shared how the Galilee Medical Center has begun to care for Syrians who have been wounded in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Injured Syrians who are brought to the border are transported by the Israeli government to the Galilee Medical Center. While at the hospital, no questions are asked: anyone who is injured is treated, whether they are a member of ISIS or a civilian. Dr. Ronen described the surprise of many of these patients – who typically view Israel as the enemy – when they wake up and find themselves being treated in an Israeli hospital. While only wounded individuals were originally being brought to Israel for care, the word has spread and some noncritical patients are coming to the border for help, such as pregnant women who cannot acquire adequate medical care within Syria. Dr. Ronen hopes that providing for the medical needs of these Syrian patients will build trust between Syria and Israel, with those who have been cared for in Israel returning to share their positive experiences with family and friends once they have recovered. As someone who is working towards a career in medicine, it was inspiring to hear how even doctors that don’t devote their careers entirely to humanitarian work can have opportunities placed in their path to help people in need and even promote peace in a world full of upheaval.

Sumiko Weir, Andrews University