by Monte Sahlin

By AT News Team, February 25, 2014

The family of Dr. Jay Sloop has scheduled a memorial service near his home in the United States for April 26. He went missing about a year earlier in May 2013 while on a mission trip in Ukraine to help start community health ministries with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in that nation. The service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sabbath afternoon in the Yakima Adventist Church, 507 North 35th Avenue.

Adventist Today has reported that Sloop, a retired obstetrician age 77 and Health Ministries director for the denomination’s Upper Columbia Conference, was in Kiev to help establish a lifestyle center in the Ukrainian capital when he went missing during an early morning walk in Zamkova Gora Park on May 15, 2013. Security camera footage showed him entering the park, but not leaving. No substantial leads have since emerged in the case, despite extensive searches and an ongoing investigation by Ukrainian police and the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

“We know little more than we did within hours of Dad’s initial disappearance,” son Greg Sloop said in a blog he set up to keep friends and family informed of the search. While active searches ended in September, the family continues to follow up with contacts in Ukraine and maintains a hotline where people can report information, he said.

In a February 12 blog post, Sloop reiterated the ambiguity of the situation and said the service is not reason to further speculate on Dr. Sloop’s status. “No matter what you might believe, we are left without Dad in our lives right now. We’d like to take time to remember who he is and was, what things were important to him, and reminisce on the time he spent with us,” Sloop wrote. The April 26 service will “be a good time to create a small sense of closure for everyone involved,” another son, Richard Sloop, told the Yakima Herald.

“We would like to invite you to a celebration of Jay Sloop’s life,” a statement from the family said. “Some people we know, are quite certain that Dad must not still be alive. Others feel that he must still be alive, and that we’ll get some answer soon. … We invite you to celebrate with us, the memory of Jay Sloop, as bittersweet as that may seem in the moment.”

This story is based in part on a bulletin from Adventist News Network (ANN), the official news services of the denomination.