After Adventist appeal, Uganda’s president moves to abolish Sabbath exams

Responding to an appeal by the Seventh-day Adventist Church president to abolish Saturday exams, Uganda’s leader announced that he would take steps to accommodate the convictions of Adventist students — and also those of Sunday-keeping Christians and Muslims.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tweeted the announcement on Feb. 17, a day after hosting church leader Ted N.C. Wilson for an official visit-turned-Bible study at his state residence in Entebbe outside the capital, Kampala.

[Photo Credit: Prince Bahati/ECD]

“I thank Pastor Wilson for visiting Uganda,” Museveni wrote on Twitter. “I commend members of the SDA community in Uganda for their discipline. We shall consider the church’s request about our education institutions not conducting examinations on Saturday.”

He added: “We shall also look at the interests of other Christian denominations that need to be freed from school examinations on Sundays and also for the Muslim community on Fridays.”

Ugandan media interpreted Museveni’s remarks as a done deal. “President Museveni Agrees to Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Request to Cancel Saturday School Exams,” read a headline on the website of the NTV television channel.

Local Adventist Church leaders applauded the surprise development.

“This is exciting! Many people have suffered,” said Daniel Matte, president of the Adventist Church in Uganda, whose own son had to repeat a three-year state university course in agriculture after exams fell on Saturday.

“This is more than we desired,” said Blasious Ruguri, president of the Adventist Church’s East-Central Africa Division, whose territory includes Uganda. “Everybody is being blessed.”

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NJC Executive Secretary Passes

The North Jamaica Conference (NJC) and the wider Jamaica Union Territory are in mourning following the passing of Pastor Omri Davis who went to sleep on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at his home in St. Ann. He was 53.

After an almost year-long battle with cancer, Pastor Davis breathed his last breath surrounded by family members and colleagues of the NJC.

Pastor Davis

Pastor Davis, who, at the time of his passing served as the Executive Secretary of NJC, also served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as District Pastor, Colporteur and Conference Director in a career spanning over twenty-two years of ministry in Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean.

“We regret the passing of one of the most dedicated pastor and administrator in the Jamaica Union,” said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica. His selfless service and warm Christian disposition has endeared himself to both his colleagues and those he served.  I believe that he sleeps in Jesus, therefore as we pray for his wife Charmaine and children, we hope that they will take comfort in the precious promise we have in Jesus of a glorious resurrection of the saints who are asleep in Him. He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him”

Pastor Karl Archer, president of NJC who was among those at Davis’s bedside when he passed, expressed deep sadness of his (Davis) passing. himself has been deeply moved by the death.

“His passing comes as a great, great loss to the conference and his contributions will be missed. Given his hope in Christ, we are confident that we will meet him again if we remain faithful to the end,” said Archer

The Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the Pastor Omri Davis will be held on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 11:00 am at the Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre in Mount Salem, St. James.

He is survived by wife Charmaine and three sons: Theodore, Timothy and Charis.

Something Better Than Lotto

Servants of God are charged to go beyond the walls of a building and take the message to the streets, as it is said that the Lord will not put in His appearance until His message reaches all the corners of the earth.

Communications director at the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Churches, Pastor Damian Chambers, is one such tasked servant of God, and Family & Religion will be sharing a few of his sermons from his 'Homeward Bound Crusade' in the community of Ellen Street.

Pastor Damian Chambers

Quite a number of persons wish they had the opportunity to not work and live comfortably from a possible lotto jackpot. Though their chances are extremely thin, some will spend their last dime on a ticket to their dreams.

But according to Chambers, what if that effort were transferred to loving and obeying Jesus? Would the outcome not be different? Would they not be happier?

"Happiness is one of the greatest pursuits of the human heart. It is one of the reasons why those who are single desire to be married because they think marriage will make them happy. It is the reason some people will spend all they have to get a visa to the land of America."

He added: "The Bible tells us of one person who not only desired happiness in these things, but he had it in abundance. The book of Ecclesiastes, chapters 1-12, tells us about King Solomon. The Bible tells us that he did many things to try to make himself happy from the wealth that he had amassed. He had many building projects; he had many reservoirs of water; he had male and female slaves; he had much silver and gold; singers; 700 wives and 300 concubines. Solomon said, 'Whatever my heart desired, I did not restrain myself from it'."

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Churches Challenged to Help Make Jamaica Positively Exceptional Again

Seventh-day Adventists and the wider Christian community were challenged to make Jamaica positively exceptional again by incorporating outreach programmes that reflect their stewardship responsibilities for all facets of the lives of Jamaicans.

The challenge came from Professor Alvin Wint while delivering the main address at the Recognition and Awards Ceremony for the Year of the Adventist Worker at the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville on Sunday, February 11, 2018 .

Professor Alvin Wint

Using data for the period 1960 - 2016, Wint argued that Jamaica’s poor economic performance since 1960 compared to other countries within and outside the Caribbean region is largely a result of Jamaica experiencing greater levels of macro-economic and macro-social instability relative to countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Mauritius, Barbados, St. Kitts and Singapore, all of which had a lower income per person than Jamaica in 1960, but each of which now has an income level much higher than Jamaica’s.

“Jamaica’s churches have programmes of welfare that feed and clothe those in need, but they need to do more. The Adventist church for example has an expansive health programme which it needs to deploy throughout the country so persons can enjoy a healthier lifestyle, live longer and alleviate some of the strain currently placed on the public health system.”

He pointed to the fact that given Jamaica’s particular circumstances, the faith-based community needs to have outreach programmes on environmental stewardship, as Jamaica is now also experiencing the impact of worsening environmental degradation, which creates for key communities across the Island an almost existential risk in the face of the weather-related challenges occasioned by climate change.

Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica addresses the gathering (photos by Nigel Coke)

He further challenged the Church with its various locations Island-wide to get involved in dispute resolution, parenting and financial management outreach programmes in support the country’s crime and fiscal management initiatives.

“This is critical because one can safely assume that in such a religious country, with more churches per square mile than any other, the devil can be expected to have a particular evangelical interest. Such programmes would complement the church’s traditional role in personal spiritual evangelism, even as the current state of Jamaica, with the demonic forces seemingly arrayed against the Country, place ever more importance on the growing trend for churches, and even the State, to spend meaningful time in prayer for the Nation.”

The Adventist Church in Jamaica has approximately 1,500 workers serving in two institutions – Andrews Memorial Hospital and Northern Caribbean University, eight high schools, 21 preparatory schools and six regional headquarters. It has more than 280,000 members worshipping in more than 740 congregations

Adventist Celebrates Workers with Recognition and Awards

Workers of Worth (WOW)! That's how the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica themed their Recognition and Awards Ceremony to celebrate the "Year of the Adventist Worker 2017", which was held at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) Gymnatorium in Mandeville on Sunday.

Among the awardees was Laurian Chin, principal of the Adventist-owned Falmouth Preparatory School in Trelawny. She was recognised for outstanding service and for 40 years of service up to 2016.

Mrs. Laurian Chin, (right) principal of the Falmouth Preparatory School accepts her award for outstanding service from Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Adventist church in Jamaica.

"I appreciate it. As a human being, it is good to be recognised for doing good although the expected ultimate reward is in Heaven," said an elated Chin. "This is my first job with the Church and I have not worked anywhere else. I have made a promise to the Lord that for all his blessings, I would give my service to His Church." Chin has been a principal of the school since 1981. 

Over Two Hundred Persons Recognised

Two hundred and seven workers from across the church's schools, university, health institution and facilities, publishing ministry, conferences and union headquarters were recognised and awarded for long and outstanding services ranging from 11 to 51 years as at December 2016.

Mrs. Doreen Grant, Associate Secretary of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist accepts her awards for 42 years of service to the church from Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Jamaica Union.

"The workers of the JAMU are the most important resource that we have," said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica. "Taking time out to publicly recognise their contribution to the organisation over the years is the least that we can do. We hope that this recognition ceremony will inspire the present and future workers to recommit and commit themselves to the mission of our church."

Service For Half-Century

"It is a real pleasure for me to be working for the Adventist Church," said Novelette Carter, who works in the church's northeastern region as one of its ancillary staff. She was recognised by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica for outstanding service. "It's good to be working as part of God's plan of salvation for mankind. I love what I do - catering to people's physical need for food. I hope I will be able to work for God for another 20 years."

Pastor Derek Bignal (right) show his award with his wife Yvonne for being the longest worker in the Seventh-day Adventist Church have served for 51 years. He currently serves as Associate Professor and Northern Caribbean University (NCU)

Pastor Derek Bignal, who previously served in various capacities, including as Conference and Union president, is the longest-serving worker of the church. He was recognised for 51 years of dedicated service and now serves as an associate professor at the Northern Caribbean University.

The Adventist Church in Jamaica has approximately 1,500 workers serving in two institutions - the Andrews Memorial Hospital and the Northern Caribbean University - eight high schools, 19 preparatory schools and six regional headquarters.

Saxophonist Dwayne Foster serenaded the awardees with one of his numbers.

Omar Oliphant – Pastor, Lawyer, Family Man

This pastor plays the piano. That's good, but who cares? Hardly anyone, it seems. What people are really talking about is that this pastor is now a lawyer.

Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Omar Oliphant, who is in charge of the Salem Pastoral District of Churches in St Ann, graduated from the Norman Manley Law School last year and was called to the bar in December 2017 - a first for the Adventist Church, the largest denomination in the island.

Since then, some people have expressed concern, saying the two disciplines Oliphant is involved in are conflicting. Some ask, how can a pastor who is doing the work of the Lord become a lawyer when lawyers are popularly regarded as liars, and lawyers sometimes protect people charged with heinous crimes?

But is this just a storm in a teacup, or are the concerns warranted? Family and Religion caught up with Pastor Oliphant at his home in St Ann, and he was only too happy to speak on the matter.

"There are two prisms on either side that one must use to view this: on the legal side, church members must know that there are many branches of law," Oliphant pointed out. "Many individuals, as soon as they hear law, they still think of it in the restrictive sense of a criminal lawyer. But today, there exists numerous branches and scopes of law - environmental, media, intellectual property, probate, among others."

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Church Intent on Changing the Leadership Culture in Inter-America

Changing the leadership culture throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory is what top church administrators have been aggressively seeking to do with on-going training geared toward its regional and local church administrators and department heads at every level of the church organization.

“We need to be servants of the Lord as we lead His church, because it is not about me, about us, but about God and His Church.”

Hundreds of committee and board members across unions, conferences, missions, educational and health institutions in Inter-America were summoned to an online training program themed ‘Transformed to Lead a Healthy Organization,’ from the IAD headquarters in Miami, Florida, United States, on January 24, 2018.

“The church is not led by one person, but it is led by a committee,” said IAD church region president Israel Leito, as the online event began. “We need to be servants of the Lord as we lead His church, because it is not about me, about us, but about God and His Church.”

Leito urged board leaders and members to remain loyal to God, to His church and His people. “Let every committee meeting be an experience of worship; let us make our meetings a way to glorify God and not a moment to control and take advantage of others,” he said.

The six-hour session sought to equip members of governing boards and committees to fulfill their responsibilities, said IAD assistant to the president Balvin Braham, who is in charge of leadership development for the church in Inter-America.

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Voice of Prophecy Soloist Del Delker Passes to Her Rest

Beloved Voice of Prophecy soloist Del Delker passed to her rest this morning in Porterville, Calif., at the age of 93. For more than five decades, whether over the airwaves, in a church or at an evangelistic meeting, her strong contralto voice unabashedly shared Christ's love with rapt audiences around the world. Said Voice of Prophecy Speaker/Director Shawn Boonstra, "Del had the ability to preach a sermon through a song. Her face was radiant with the love of Christ, and over and over, I heard people say that listening to her was a taste of heaven!"

Her close friend (and pianist/organist) Phil Draper said, "I spoke to her last week and found her bright, witty and jovial—but tired. She was ready to rest in the arms of Jesus. She commented how she'd sung and talked about the soon coming of Jesus and was amazed it hadn't happened. Next awakening she will see Him face-to-face. I promised her we'd travel through the Universe singing His praises. Rest dear friend, Del. I will see you in the Morning."

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PARL Director Gives Warning of Impending Storm at Religious Liberty Convention

Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference received well needed information about their religious rights and freedoms as citizens of the country at a Religious Liberty Convention held at the Hagley Park SDA Church on January 20, 2018. The Convention was held under the theme “Liberty of Conscience Threatened” and saw religious liberty leaders from over forty churches across the Conference gather to explore some of the religious liberty issues facing the church.

The main messages for the day were conveyed through drama presentations, music, PowerPoint presentations, a panel discussion and the spoken word.

Guest speaker for the divine service  and Director of the PARL Department in Inter-America Division, Pastor James Daniel, captioned his sermon “A Storm is Gathering – Prepare your Minds “   and gave a solemn warning to the church about future events which are about to take place upon the earth.

His message was on point and covered the important Biblical, historical and prophetic issues outlined in chapter 35 of the book “The Great Controversy” with theme “Liberty of Conscience Threated” which was the inspiration for the theme for the day.

From his opening sentence, Pastor Daniel engaged the attention of the congregation by using the familiar imagery of an impending storm soon to engulf the whole world.

“Anyone who is paying attention to what is happening in the political and religious world would know that a storm is gathering,” said Daniel, “and when it brakes, it will sweep across the globe, forcing upon people what they should believe and attempting to dictate how they should think.”

“It’s a storm of religious political persecution that will threaten even our freedom of conscience,” Daniel warned. “It will be more intense than it

was five hundred years ago,” he added.

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Philippines Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Sabbath-Keeper

In what has been called “a landmark decision,” the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled in favor of a Seventh-day Adventist student and his constitutional right of freely observing a day of rest according to his conscience. The ruling, which dates back to July 2017 but was recently made public, benefits petitioner Denmark Valmores, who filed a case against Mindanao State University-College of Medicine (MSU-COM) Dean Cristina Achacoso and faculty member Giovannie Cabildo.

Valmores’ filing resulted from the respondents’ incessant denials to the petitioner’s religious rights of exemption from classwork and exams on Saturdays, the biblical day of rest that Seventh-day Adventists observe. It also denounced the respondents’ non-compliance with Section 5 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Section 5 states that ‘the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.’

Denmark Valmores, left, a Seventh-day Adventist medicine student whose case made it to Supreme Court of the Philippines to request his religious freedom rights be respected. [Photo: South Asia-Pacific Division News]

Valmores’ attorney Neil Abayon, an Adventist and Aangat Tayo Party List Representative, said that this development encourages the Seventh-day Adventist Church to assign greater value to religious freedom. Abayon also believes the ruling solidifies Adventists’ identity as a people who observe the Lord’s day of rest.

“Impact is very big considering one of the most used arguments against the Seventh-day Adventist community when we ask for recognition of our religious freedom rights is bakit si ganyan pumapasok naman ng Sabado (How come one of your Adventist friends goes to school on a Sabbath?),” said Abayon, citing a common rebuttal to those seeking permission to be excused on that day. “In the Valmores case, it was clarified by the Supreme Court that adherence to one’s creed is the general rule and that a person cannot be penalized for the transgressions of another person's religious beliefs,” he said.

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