March 8, 2007

Adventist News

Adventist Representative Commends
UN Anti-Violence Initiative
capAlthough the United Nations is making progress, far more action is needed to help curb the global problem of violence against women, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s UN liaison said.

Panel discussion in progress [Photo: Jonathan Gallagher]

Attending a February 15 policy summit on gender issues, Adventist representative Dr. Jonathan Gallagher commended the ongoing effort.

“Women and girls continue to experience violence at intolerably high levels,” comments Gallagher. “Combating this evil must be a top priority for both governments and civil society, and we welcome initiatives designed to highlight and prevent such abuses. As a church we deplore violence, especially directed at women, and are actively involved in changing mindsets that accept such unacceptable behavior.”
The UN continues to address gender issues at such meetings and the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women February 26-March 9. “I’m delighted that there will be a significant Adventist presence at this important UN Commission with a delegation of women leaders in attendance,” Gallagher adds. “It is part of our theology and mission to ensure that every individual made in the image of God is treated with dignity and respect. Violence against women has no place in our world and as agents for change in our communities we must continue to work to end such offensive abuses.”                      —PARL News/AR

Australia: Adventists Declare National Day of Prayer for Drought
Members of more than 400 Seventh-day Adventist churches across Australia united in prayer February 17 to pray simultaneously for the end of a severe drought and water crisis plaguing the country since last August.
“Australia is experiencing drought conditions unparalleled since records have been kept in many areas of the country,” said Chester Stanley, president of the Adventist church's Australian Union Conference (AUC). “The statistics, figures and broken records keep coming.”
“Authorities are saying that something like 98 percent of New South Wales, the most-populous state, is suffering from it. But of course the whole country is affected,” said Gary Krause, director of the Office of Adventist Mission at the Adventist world church headquarters in the United States.
The idea for a corporate prayer as a part of worship services came from church members.
“I have had a number of church members correspond with me from around Australia suggesting it would be very appropriate for us as a church to take time for earnest prayer in relation to the extremely serious situation we have here in Australia,” Stanley explained.
The focus for prayer on that day obviously included prayers for rain, but also for those people who have been impacted by the drought and appeals for more responsible use of Australia's natural resources.
“This is a crisis and I think as a church we need to be on our knees,” said Stanley. “But I think also it is a great opportunity to declare to our communities around Australia that we are Christians and that we are a praying people. We should not be seen as a group of people who lock ourselves away but that we are people who care for our Communities—that we're Australians who do have a love for our country.” 
                                                                     —South Pacific Division Communications Department/ANN/AR
BURUNDI: Adventist Radio Station to Open Soon
The capital city of a central African nation of 8 million people will soon hear the Seventh-day Adventist message via a new FM radio station.

The station, named “Radio Agakiza,” which translates as “Salvation Radio,” will broadcast programs in Kirundi, Swahili, French, and English. It is located in the capital city of Bujumbura, and broadcasts have the potential to reach a population of one million people in the city and surrounding area.

The “Salvation Radio” project is taking place under the supervision of the Burundi Union and the East-Central Africa Division; Adventist World Radio (AWR) is assisting with the purchase and installation of equipment.
AWR president, Ben Schoun, says, “In the capital cities of Africa, FM stations are an important media tool for communication to the masses of people. The broadcasts from this station will bring a peaceful and hopeful influence over this territory, where there has been tension and conflict. We want to express appreciation to the government of Burundi for granting a license for this station.” 
                                                                                                                                —Adventist World Radio/AR
MEXICO: Adventist Health Food Company Branch Manager Killed

JOEL AMILCAR HERNANDEZ [Photo: IAD Health Food Company]

Local police continue their investigation of the February 15 shooting death of Joel Amilcar Hernandez, who served as general manager of the Seventh-day Adventist-owned Inter-American Health Food branch, Colpac Foods, in Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico. A native of Panama, Hernandez, 43, died near his home.

“We are shocked and saddened by his death,” said Joel Zukovski, director of the Inter-American Health Food Company, headquartered in Miami, Florida. “Our prayers go out to his family and the staff at Colpac...he was a good manager and will be greatly missed.”
Hernandez had managed Colpac since 2001 and previously worked as the general manager of the Cetebedi branch in Costa Rica. He earned a master’s of business administration in 1995.
He is survived by his wife Ruth and three sons.                       —IAD Communication Department/ANN/AR
Atlantic Union College President Announces Retirement
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DR. GEORGE BABCOCK [Photo: Dave Sherwin]

This time, he means it: Dr. George Babcock, Atlantic Union College (AUC) president since 2003, said he will retire May 31, at the end of the academic year. It’s actually his re-retirement: Babcock previously retired from a senior vice presidency at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. Before going to Southern, he was associate director of education for the global Seventh-day Adventist Church.

When Babcock was asked to lead AUC in 2003, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges had already recommended terminating AUC’s accreditation. During Babcock’s tenure, accreditation status was restored, and the college’s financial status was improved, allowing the United States’ Department of Education to remove reimbursement restrictions for student loans and grants. Additionally, there was a 44 percent increase in enrollment last year.—AUC Public Relations/AR

Our Reputation: Who’s Responsible?                                      News Commentary

BY SHELLEY NOLAN FREESLAND, Communication Director, Adventist World Radio

“Muslims around the world are known for their sense of humor,” said a young Muslim man detained at the airport.

“I did not know that,” replied the stone-faced Caucasian security officer.

“It was a joke,” the first man explained.

This scene occurred in an early episode of a new half-hour Canadian TV sitcom called Little Mosque on the Prairie. Its plot centers on a Muslim lawyer who abandons the big city and moves to a rural town in the prairies to become the spiritual leader of a small Muslim community. Many of the town’s residents are wary of their more “exotic” neighbors, and the misunderstandings that result provide much of the humor for the show.

The sitcom has raised spirited discussions about the boundaries of humor, with media coverage occurring as far away as Jerusalem and Britain. The New York Times aptly termed the show a “precarious premise” [Dec. 7, 2006].

One of the program’s strongest defenses may be the fact that its creator is Zarqa Nawaz, a writer, filmmaker, and mother of four who is a practicing Muslim. She says she took inspiration for Little Mosque from her own experience of moving to the prairie city of Regina, Saskatchewan, after being born in Liverpool and raised in Toronto. “It rests on my shoulders to get the balance right between entertainment and representing the community in a reasonable way,” she reveals. “You have to push the boundaries so you can grow and evolve as a community.” [New York Times, Dec. 7, 2006]

Adventists too have been on the receiving end of others’ misconceptions, and we should ask ourselves why. Where does the responsibility for understanding lie? As individuals and as a church, we would do well to regularly examine whether how we portray ourselves is leading to a true picture of God and His plan of salvation.