From ANN, July 23, 2015: There are a growing number of Adventists in many nations who are elected officials or appointed to significant government positions. Perhaps the leading example may be in Jamaica where the Governor General is an Adventist minister, Sir Patrick Allen. He resigned as present of the denomination in that country in order to accept the appointment by Queen Elizabeth II. In a country where about one in ten citizens are Adventists, the presiding officer of the upper house in parliament is also an Adventist; Senator Floyd Morris, who was a delegate to the General Conference (GC) Session in San Antonio earlier this month.
Now, the World Adventist Public Officials Association (WAPOA) has been organized to connect Adventists around the world who serve their nation as elected or appointed officials. A group of 21 leaders from ten countries—ambassadors, ministers of state, members of parliament, a deputy chief justice and high-level officials of international organizations—had lunch together on July 8 during the GC Session. It can be an isolating experience for an Adventist to hold a political office, the group concluded.
Those seated around the table spoke frankly about the need for better networking between Adventists who serve their governments, and about the loneliness that often comes with serving in a civic role. Some expressed their disappointment that holding elected office is sometimes seen as “off limits” for faithful church members—a sign that someone has compromised their integrity. All spoke about their desire to carry their spiritual values into the public realm and to reflect Christ’s character in their service to their country.
Morris was voted the first president of WAPOA. Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Bienvenido V. Tejano, was chosen to serve as the association’s secretary, and Damaris Moura Kuo, president of the Religious Liberty Commission of the Brazilian Bar Association’s São Paulo Division, was selected as its public relations officer.
According to Morris, the first order of business will be to identify more Adventist public officials—whether they serve their national government or their local city council—and invite them to join the association. The group plans to communicate regularly and to organize a meeting of the association in 2017.
The gathering was hosted by the GC Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) Department. Dr. Ganoune Diop, the newly elected department director, says he hopes the association will promote a vigorous dialogue between Adventists who hold prominent and often-influential positions. “These men and women need our support and our prayers,” he says. “They are first and foremost our brothers and our sisters, but they are also called to represent Christ’s kingdom and His values within often-difficult and sensitive circumstances.”
Adventists who work in government and civic organizations are encouraged to contact the new organization through the PARL department Web site.
The Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.