Stories from Ghana, Texas, Germany, California, Arizona, Hope Channel, Ohio, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Canada, Michigan and the Society of Adventist Philosophers

The Adventist denomination in Ghana congratulated Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his election as president of the African nation earlier in December, reported Ghana Web. The statement also commended Ghanaians for a peaceful election season and thanked President John Dramani Mahama for “exhibiting good statesmanship by conceding defeat.” Akufo-Addo won 53 percent of the vote and Mahama 44 percent. “God bless us all and keep our dear nation united as one people with one destiny,” the statement by Adventist leaders concluded.

The annual convention of Generation Youth for Christ (GYC) began Wednesday in Houston (Texas) and will continue through Sunday (December 28 to January 1). GYC is an independent Adventist youth event in the United States with more than 1,000 teens and young adults attending each year. Pastor Moise Ratsara from the Michigan Conference is the president of GYC. A total of 86 young adult volunteers came five days early to distribute one million pieces of literature in Houston neighborhoods and suburbs. The speakers include Pastor Ted Wilson, president of the denomination’s General Conference.

Adventist leaders in Germany condemned the violence last week in Berlin where a terrorist drove a truck into crowds at an outdoor Christmas Market killing 12 people and injuring at least 48 more. Pastor Gunnar Scholz, president of the local conference, expressed condolences to the victims and their families, reported APD news service. Pastor Michael Gotz, leader of the Adventist refugee ministry in the European nation also condemned the violence. Waldfriede Adventist Hospital was among those in the metropolitan area who had its emergency department placed on alert by authorities.

One year after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino (California) nearly a thousand people gathered in the Loma Linda University church to view a documentary about a survivor who was treated at the LLU Medical Center where a number of the victims were brought. It is the closest emergency hospital the site of the shootings. Entitled “San Bernardino Strong,” the film tells the story of Julie Swann-Paez, a 51-year-old wife and mother of three who was hit with several bullets and nearly died. She spent 29 days in the hospital and had four surgeries as well as many physical therapy sessions. Dr. Randy Roberts, senior pastor of the university church, moderated a question and answer session following the film.

The Church Ministries Convention of the denomination’s North American Division will convene January 8 through 11 in Tucson, Arizona. It provides in-service education and professional meetings for the specialists who staff various ministry departments and affiliated organizations in the 59 local conferences across the United States, Canada, Bermuda and Guam-Micronesia. Pastor Dan Jackson, president of the NAD, will be the keynote speaker on Monday morning, January 9. A total of 28 ministry groups are included: chaplains, community services, event planners, broadcast media, children’s ministries, communication directors, disabilities ministries, education administrators, family life ministries, health ministries, IT specialists, outreach to Muslims, Native ministries, personal evangelism, prayer ministries, prison ministries, religious liberty specialists, refugee and immigrant ministries, Sabbath School specialists, stewardship directors, volunteer coordinators, women’s ministries, youth and young adult ministries. Also meetings of the Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI) organization, the Ministerial Association, the Ministerial Spouses Association, the Adventist Learning Community, and Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI).

Hope Channel has launched an online service for the deaf with on-demand video signed in ASL or captioned in five languages. A variety of Adventist video material will be available in four categories; nature, family, Bible and health. The service is being operated by deaf church members, reported the Adventist Review. Included will be Sabbath School Mission Spotlight, It Is Written Oceania and major church events, starting with the sermons and mission reports at the 2015 General Conference Session.

Friedensau University, the Adventist institution near Magdeburg, Germany, started the 2016-2017 winter semester with 47 new students and a total enrollment of about 200 students. There are 51 enrolled in four master’s degree programs in the theology school, 125 in four master’s degree programs in the school of Christian social work and 24 taking the preparatory German for foreigners course. Nearly half of the total enrollment is from outside Germany, with the largest contingents from Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

The denomination’s Ohio Conference has a total enrollment of 810 students in its K-12 schools for the 2016-2017 school year, an increase of 17 percent over last year despite the closure of Mount Vernon Academy. This does not count another 29 secondary students that the conference has given $5,000 each to attend boarding academies in other places. It also does not include the largest preschool and day care center program in the union conference where it is located.

Castle Medical Center, the Adventist hospital in Hawaii, has bought the 135-acre Hawaii Loa Campus of Hawaii Pacific University in order to have room for expanding it services as the only faith-based hospital in the state, reports Pacific Business News. The university has decided to concentrate its operations in downtown Honolulu and will cease activities on the windward side of Oahu by 2020. Adventist Health, the denomination’s health ministry in the western United States paid $18.6 million for the property.

More than 15,900 converts were baptized by Adventist believers in China during the past year, the highest number of baptisms since 2000. This from an online note by Pastor Robert Folkenberg, Jr., president of the China Union Mission in Hong Kong.

Rainer Geschke is leaving the Adventist media center in Alsbach, Germany, at the end of 2016. He has been chief administrative officer for Voice of Hope media ministries for more than 14 years. “During this time the media center has evolved considerably,” reported APD, the Adventist news service in Europe. A new broadcasting facility was built, a radio broadcasting license obtained, 24-hour-a-day Hope Channel television in the German language was developed and distribution via the Internet begun. The Voice of Hope radio ministry was started in Germany in 1948 and has been a major outreach tool for the denomination.

Hope Vision Fellowship, a congregation for the blind was launched November 26 in the Ontario Province of Canada. It is believed to be the first Adventist church focusing on reaching and serving the visually impaired in the denomination’s North American Division, according to the Adventist News Network. The 25 charter members gathered in a meeting room at the Holiday Inn Express in Scarborough. The inaugural service was led by Pastor Mark Johnson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, and Pastor Mansfield Edwards, president of the denomination’s Ontario Conference.

Adventist Frontier Missions, an independent ministry that sponsors missionaries in many unreached areas of the world in collaboration with the denomination, has been awarded the highest rating by Charity Navigator, a major consumer guide to charitable organizations engaged in public fund raising in the United States. This is the sixth year in a row that the nonprofit organization has achieved the top, “four stars” rating. AFM has its headquarters in Berrien Springs, Michigan, near the campus of Andrews University, the leading Adventist institution of higher education.

The annual meeting of the Society of Adventist Philosophers in November heard Dr. Niels-Erik Andreason, who recently retired as president of Andrews University, as its keynote speaker. Papers presented at the meeting by Adventist scholars who study and/or teach philosophy included “Witness to a Life Worth Living” by Dr. Aleksandar Santrac of Washington Adventist University; “Toward a Theological Ethics of Democratic Flourishing and Virtue” by Yi Shen Ma, PhD candidate at Claremont School of Theology; “Religious Liberty, Natural Rights and Human Flourishing” by Dr. Gary Wood of Andrews University; “Expressive Individualism and the Scandal of Christian Equality” by Dr. Ron Osborn of The Stafford Institute; “Foucault, Truthfulness and Flourishing” by Dr. Ante Jeroncic of Andrews University; “Despicable Me: Defeating Flourishing Egoism” by Marina Garner, a PhD student at Boston University; and “Humanism, Flourishing and Grace” by Dr. Charles Scriven, president of the Association of Adventist Forums, the largest organization of Adventist academics.