Stories from Jamaica, Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, Rwanda, Huntsville (Alabama), Lincoln (Nebraska), Pennsylvania and Andrews University in Michigan

Too much blood is being shed in political violence stated Adventist Pastor Charles Brevitt at a meeting last week in Saint James, Jamaica, where the candidates of both major parties signed a code of conduct for the upcoming election season. “We are burying too many people killed prematurely by idiocy,” Brevitt told the candidates for Parliament from both the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party, according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. Similar meetings are being held across the Caribbean island nation. It is unclear how many of these events include a public statement by an Adventist clergy member, but denominational leaders have asked believers to pray for a peaceful, nonviolent election campaign period.

Dr. David C. Smith will be the new president of Southern Adventist University (SAU), it was announced earlier this week. He will succeed Dr. Gordon Bietz, who is retiring after nearly two decades. Smith is senior pastor of the Collegedale (Tennessee) Adventist Church on the university campus. He was an English professor at SAU for 17 years in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving in 1998 to become president of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, another Adventist institution. He left the college to return to Collegedale as pastor in 2011.

The Adventist Church in Rwanda is planning to baptize 60,000 converts on Sabbath, May 29, in what is expected be the largest mass baptism in the worldwide denomination’s history, according to the Adventist Review. The baptisms will come at the end of a two-week evangelism campaign at 2,200 locations in the central African nation where the Adventist faith is the largest Protestant denomination. Thousands of clergy and lay ministers are currently leading Bible studies to prepare converts for baptism and speakers from a number of nations will participate in the May campaign, although most will be from Rwanda. There are nearly a million Adventists among the 12 million population of the country.

Pastor Charles D. Brooks, founder of the Breath of Life television ministry, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the Oakwood University Church where he is a member has appealed for Adventist around the world to pray for him, it was reported earlier this week by Spectrum, the journal of the leading organization of Adventist academics. The well-known and widely respected African American preacher founded the television ministry in 1974. Prior to that he was a pastor in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. He has preached for evangelism campaigns throughout the United States and on six continents around the world. Tens of thousands of Adventists made their decision to join the movement under the influence of his preaching.

Christian Record Services for the Blind is laying off 12 of its 25 headquarters staff and all 35 of its field representatives, the Lincoln Journal Star reported last week. It will also sell its office building and production facilities in Lincoln, Nebraska. The charity affiliated with the Adventist denomination has supplied Bibles and other reading materials to the blind since 1899. It will discontinue production of all materials except those in Braille, according to the newspaper. The organization has had two years of significant losses and increased expenses, forcing it to make drastic budget cuts in order to survive, a spokesperson told the newspaper. Audio, large-print and digital download materials will be curtailed, and the field representatives will no longer make regular visits to assist blind individuals. The employees who are being laid off will receive severance pay and benefits according to Adventist denominational policy, according to the Adventist Review.

The Pennsylvania Conference of the Adventist denomination will reduce its camp meeting to one weekend due to 1.5 percent reduction in Tithe income during 2015, stated a letter from the organization to its members last Thursday (February 11). It was one of the few local conferences in North America to continue to have a traditional, 10-day camp meeting each summer. In order to deal with a $240,000 budget deficit without reducing the number of pastors, teachers and office staff, the event will be reduced to meetings on Friday night and Sabbath morning, seminars on Sabbath afternoon and the Pathfinder Fair and Adventist Book Center sale on Sunday (June 10-12, 2016).

Professor Tiffany Summerscales at Andrews University is part of the international collaboration of scientists involved in the discovery of gravitation waves that was announced this week in news media around the world. At 12:30 pm today (February 19) she was present a lecture on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Newbold Auditorium in Buller Hall on campus. Andrews University is the leading higher education institution affiliated with the Adventist denomination.