Members of an Adventist
church in north London skipped worship services last Sabbath to knock on doors in
an effort to bring hope to a community shaken by the savage beheading of an
elderly woman in her back garden.
The Edmonton Seventh-day
Adventist Church, led by its pastor, Richard de Lisser, decided on Sept. 6 that
it was vital to reach out to the community after Palmira Silva, 82, was killed
in an apparent machete attack in broad daylight two days earlier.
"The church is God's
appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and
its mission is to carry the gospel to the world," de Lisser said,
according to a statement on the British Union Conference’s Web site.
Church members — many
wearing their Sabbath best, while others traded fancy footwear for more
comfortable walking shoes — handed out pamphlets titled, “Hope in Troubled
Times” in Edmonton, an area of London with a population of about 95,000.
Children and teens banded
together with parents in walking the streets, talking with people about the Sept.
4 tragedy and inviting them to attend a special church program about hope in
“Knocking on doors
amongst this small community we heard remembrances of Palmira, a woman whose
life was an example to us as Christians,” said church member Rosetta Allen, in
memories such as, "She always gave what she had,” or “She was a kind
“Even those who didn't
know her name knew of her,” Allen said. “Her heart and soul was a reflection of
true community spirit.”
British police are
investigating the murky circumstances around the death of Silva, a widow and great-grandmother who moved to the neighborhood
from Italy years ago. A 25-year-old suspect has been arrested and charged with
The Edmonton church
opened a book of condolences in memory of Silva, and church members and other local
residents have signed it.
“In troubled times you
can do one of two things: bend to the pressure that may overcome you, or stand
tall and be a light even though it feels all hope is lost,” Allen said. “Edmonton
Seventh-day Adventist church took that second choice.”
The Edmonton church describes
itself as active and family-oriented, and it notes on its Web site that its activities
have led to the opening of other churches in London.
“Many of our neighboring Seventh-day Adventist
churches were developed by members of Edmonton, planting seeds elsewhere to
grow as a body in Christ,” it says on its Web site. “We proudly declare this
But last Sabbath, the church
focused solely on hope and the power of togetherness, Allen said.
“Church members felt a
sense of new purpose,” she said. “This basic human interaction reminded them of
their mission as a Christian Church, to be agents of love, purveyors of hope
and reflectors of Christ.”
British Union Conference Web site: “Edmonton Members Reach Out During Community Trauma”