March 8, 2007

Adventist News 3

BRAZIL: Church Leaders Denounce Crime in Local Adventist Church, Reiterate Commitment to Child Safety, Welfare


capSeventh-day Adventists in Brazil are grieving after a 20-month-old child was discovered strangled in the baptismal tank of an Adventist church in Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil, on March 3. Church leaders there have released a statement denouncing the heinous crime and reiterating the Adventist church’s commitment to the safety and welfare of all children. 
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Santa Catarina comes before the public, in light of this unfortunate episode . . . to state that the church vehemently repudiates this horrendous act that victimized this child,” the statement, released March 6, read in part.
According to the Associated Press, the child was allegedly snatched by her killer from a room where other supervised children were spending Sabbath worship service hours. The AP release also states the killer identified himself as the child’s father when questioned by one of the supervisors.
When local church administration learned of the crime, they immediately contacted police and requested that all facts be clarified and the criminal or criminals be punished according to local law. Under Brazil’s constitution, churches are open to the public, and church officials in Joinville say they in no way intend to interfere with the criminal investigation. The local Adventist community is also cooperating with investigating law officials, who have yet to apprehend a suspect.
The official statement added that the Adventist church is known worldwide “for preaching against violence and is in favor of Christian values [that] honor the family and respect children.”
“The Church is on the side of the police and the justice system in seeking to completely solve this [crime],” church leaders said in the statement. “We clarify that the crime occurred beyond our knowledge and we are collaborating in all possible manner with the investigation since the time the crime was discovered.”
The statement ended with assurance that church officials and members extend their sincere condolences and prayers to the victim’s family.
The church’s South American region annually hosts “Breaking the Silence,” a campaign to deter violence against children by raising awareness.                                      —Adventist News Network/AR.