News Briefs April 11, 2014
by Monte Sahlin
Adventist Today regularly provides a summary of stories that we have decided do not require in-depth reporting, but our readers may want to be aware of.
At least three universities affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination are planning major Resurrection Pageants for Sabbath, April 19, and Sunday, April 20 the weekend when most Christian denominations celebrate Easter this year. Andrews University, Southern Adventist University and Southwestern Adventist University have announced as many as eight re-enactments over the weekend and the need for both church members and others in the community to get tickets if they want to see the events. If you know of other Adventist churches or institutions with similar plans, please send a quick note about it to email@example.com. Adventist Today will do an overview story during the week following.
An opinion piece in The Herald, a major newspaper in Zimbabwe, by Stephen Mpofu has condemned the recent leadership council convened by the Adventist denomination in Cape Town, South Africa, for not taking a strong position against homosexuality. The article states that African nations "who reject homosexuality get the stick: they are denied international capital as sanctions. What is even more scripturally tragic is that the church of Jesus Christ in the West happens to be in the forefront, pushing for a worldwide embrace of gays and lesbians. Just recently the Seventh Day Adventist Church's world vice president Ella Simons called … on SDA congregates to be compassionate towards homosexuals and her remarks immediately hit a brick wall in the SDA in Zimbabwe where the SDA's communications director, Nkosilathi Khumalo read out the chapter and verse in the Bible about God's no-nonsense stance against homosexuality."
The Council on Evangelism and Witness of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination met this week and the agenda focused on creative outreach projects developed by Adventists around the globe. Among the projects presented were a pizza restaurant which doubles as a church on Sabbaths for a growing congregation of Sabbath-keepers, a church in Geneva (Switzerland) planted by a team of young adults attended by 60 new believers and former Adventists, a growing number of vegetarian restaurants started by churches in Korea, a ministry among refugees in San Diego (California) where many immigrants arrive from areas of the world considered difficult to evangelize and are open to new ideas in the new country, and a recent movie entitled Hell and Mr. Fudge which features a theologian from another denomination who has championed the Adventist view on life and death. The council is part of the spring meeting of the GC executive committee that includes leaders from all parts of the world.
Urban mission was a key agenda item at the council and Dr. David Trim, director of statistics, archives and research for the GC reported that there are 396 people per Adventist worldwide. That ratio, he said, jumps to 547 people per Adventist in urban areas. Some cities of a million or more fare much worse, while Lusaka (Zambia) is a bright spot, with the best population-to-member ratio of any large city in the world: one Adventist per 19 people. Pastor Erton Kohler, president of the denomination's South American Division, reported that the division's goal is to plant a church in every one of the nearly 7,000 neighborhoods in major cities. Currently there are 2,000 neighborhoods with Adventist churches.
The Adventist denomination has joined an amicus brief for a case in U.S. Federal court which challenges a lower court’s ruling that the “parsonage allowance” for clergy housing is unconstitutional. The brief was led by the Church Alliance, a coalition of more than 30 denominations that work together on legislative and legal issues. The group is challenging a November ruling by a U.S. district judge that the clergy exemption for paying taxes on income designated for housing is unconstitutional. Adventist Today has previously reported that if this ruling is allowed to stand it will cost clergy and/or denominations in America many millions of dollars.