AIIAS Celebrates 50 Years of What Leaders Call ‘God’s Faithfulness’

Graduate studies school in the Philippines has trained many world church leaders.

Sharnee Zamora, AIIAS, and Adventist Review
AIIAS Celebrates 50 Years of What Leaders Call ‘God’s Faithfulness’
The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies turned 50 in 2022 and celebrated in May 2023. [Image: AIIAS]

2022 marked 50 years since the Far Eastern Division’s founding vote establishing the seminary of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in 1972. Instead of attempting an anniversary celebration last year amidst pandemic restrictions, the school decided to postpone its celebration until 2023. This extension of the timeline allowed the completion of the history book project.

History Exhibit Opening

The AIIAS Leslie Hardinge Library staff and the Physical Plant Department collaborated to set up a library exhibit featuring the historical shapers of AIIAS, the people that came to AIIAS through the years, the leaders that were developed as students at AIIAS, and how the place looked from its modest beginnings.

From what used to be a coffee plantation and a few hectares of land covered with coconut trees, AIIAS now stands with its beautiful Asian-themed architecture. From its humble beginnings grew a campus that serves as the temporary home of leaders both present and future who come to upgrade their education to be better equipped for their work.

Faculty and staff celebrated the opening of the exhibit at the library lobby on Wednesday, May 3. “This exhibit is here to remind us that there were whole stories, complex people, problems, events, joys, celebrations, challenges, people born, people falling in love, and people mastering hardships,” AIIAS president Ginger Ketting-Weller said. “All of this was already happening before most of us arrived at AIIAS, but it’s part of the story of this institution.”

Alumni Homecoming Dinner

The Alumni Homecoming Dinner provided a special opportunity to connect alumni with AIIAS employees, board members, and retirees, some of whom served at AIIAS from its first days as a Far Eastern Division seminary. Attendees were treated to a wonderful dinner with live music in a truly spectacular, one-of-a-kind event for all that took part in the occasion.

Typically, during the May banquet, employees and board members join in an annual celebration of God’s goodness to AIIAS throughout the school year. The board chair shares the news from the meetings with an emphasis on the improvement of AIIAS, advancements in rank are announced, milestone and service awards are presented, and faculty receive their awards for scholarly achievements.

This year the event included news and recognition, but a special historical focus was given through pictures and videos.

Campus Clean-up, Cultural Program, and Health Fair

On May 5, the AIIAS community gathered with their cleaning materials to collect all pieces of visible trash and dried-up foliage on campus. On the same day, campus residents and AIIAS Academy students gathered to witness a mini cultural show. The AIIAS Public Health Department hosted the event, which was put on in collaboration with the Student Association. The show included a display of various cultures on campus.

Invited to join the AIIAS community were the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Batch 2024 Cadets. Following the cultural show, the cadets proceeded to the soccer field to present their slow drill exhibition.

Following the drill, the cadets were treated to a wholistic health fair at the gymnasium. AIIAS students provided stations to explain the importance and application of health principles.

Worship Celebration, Fellowship Meal, and Fun Run

The special Sabbath service focused on gratitude to God for His faithfulness. The program included interviews with Nancy, Shawna, and Ronald Vyhmeister; Mi Hyang Song; and Evelyn and Reuel Almocera. Then, Ketting-Weller encouraged worshippers to praise the Lord in all circumstances. “We know God’s story in the great controversy will end happily, and that is also the case for AIIAS, one of His institutions.”

The Sabbath service was followed by an international fellowship meal, a tradition at AIIAS. Each community on campus shared an array of dishes ranging from staple meals to desserts. Serving table themes ranged from African to South American, from Filipino to European, and more.

To end the 50-year celebrations, novice and seasoned runners of all ages enjoyed the May 7 Milestones 5.0 Fun Run. Families participated in the 5-kilometer and 5-mile walk/run around the AIIAS campus. Finishers received a shirt while all went home with souvenirs, photos, and happy memories of the event.

“There has been no one particular ‘Moses.’ Each leader, each person who has contributed, has moved this institution forward. It is God who has been faithful to us,” Ketting-Weller said. “In these 50 years, it is God who has built what has happened, and everybody else has contributed little bits and pieces to it.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Sharnee Zamora, AIIAS, and Adventist Review