News Briefs for April 9, 2020
News reports and other announcements from the Union College Communication Program, Breath of Life, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, the Versacare Foundation, ADRA International and the Upper Columbia Conference:
The Union College Communication Program has released its second humorous video in as many weeks, lightening the mood of its growing audience of YouTube subscribers. Last week, students were testing different kinds of veggie meat straight out of the can. This week they are testing different flavors of cheesecake from a local restaurant. Some flavors made our mouths water. Others, like the one a student said reminded her of “death,” not so much.
“The Awakening” Easter special produced by the Breath of Life television ministry will be broadcast on the ABC network this weekend. Don’t miss out on this time of worship and gospel music! Breath of Life is a ministry sponsored by the Adventist denomination’s North American Division (NAD) and the campus church at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Carlton Byrd, the director of the ministry and senior pastor of the church said, “We are grateful for a vibrant partnership with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission to bring this Easter special to the nation.” More information is available online at #TheAwakeningonABC. Check local listings of your ABC affiliate for the time.
An Adventist pastor in Jakarta, Indonesia, was confirmed to have died of complications due to COVID-19. Information was confirmed by local health authorities, a week after his death on March 23, 2020. He was placed under PUI (Person Under Investigation) while confined in the hospital, local officials reported.
The reported death is believed to be the first COVID-19 church-member casualty within the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) church region. Earlier reports from Adventist Review confirmed the death of at least one Adventist member in China, another one in the United Kingdom, and several in Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A member of the Adventist Church in the United Kingdom has died from coronavirus (COVID-19), according to British Union Conference (BUC) president Ian Sweeney. Sweeney, who led a special online prayer session on the evening of March 18, 2020, did not provide additional information about the deceased member.
In a March 19 email to the Adventist Review, Trans-European Division (TED) communication director Victor Hulbert confirmed the death of one member, adding that the person was someone living in the London area.
As of March 23, 2020, at least three Seventh-day Adventist members have died and 53 are fighting COVID-19 in Spain, regional church leaders shared in an email with Adventist Review.
“The situation is dire for several of our infected members, including young people,” wrote Samuel Gil Soldevilla, communication director of the Spanish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Gil Soldevilla also shared that dozens of Adventist healthcare professionals are currently serving long shifts in healthcare institutions around the country. He said leaders are praying for all those affected, and invited church members and leaders around the world to do the same.
ADRA Switzerland has launched an initiative called “Young For Old.” The service offers a website on which people can offer to help the elderly during the coronavirus crisis: www.jungfueralt.ch
According to the German language APD Adventist news service, volunteers can help the elderly with phone-based pastoral care as well as doing their shopping or running errands.
The APD reported that, in 2019 the 4,818 members of the Adventist Church in Switzerland donated 12.6 million francs (nearly $13 million dollars) to the Tithe Fund in addition to 846,000 francs for world missions and 1.6 million francs for local church budgets. Although there was a membership increase of more than one percent during the year, the giving to the Tithe Fund declined by more than two percent. There are 56 Adventist churches in Switzerland.
On March 6, 2020, Versacare Foundation awarded $1,420,000 in grant funding to 189 Adventist primary and secondary schools across the United States and Canada in support of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.)
This was Versacare Foundation’s fifth successive year funding STEM grants and marked the third consecutive year it funded every school that applied for a STEM grant. The STEM grant program has provided funding in three categories:
• $5,000 for smaller schools of three or fewer classrooms;
• $10,000 for larger schools of four or more classrooms and 12-year schools;
• $10,000 for senior academies.
The many uses of STEM funds include the purchase of classroom smart boards, tablets or Chromebooks for student use, equipping or updating student computer labs, installation of 3D printers and related software, initiating or funding robotics programs, instruction in software coding, and the equipping of chemistry, physics, and biology labs, and more.
Through 2020, Versacare Foundation has provided 417 schools with a total of $3,245,000 in STEM grant funding. After funding nearly half of all Adventist primary and secondary schools across the NAD with STEM grants, Versacare Foundation has ended its STEM school grant program, and for 2021 will focus on funding STEM training for teachers.
From ADRA – Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is launching the Good Goes Viral (#GoodGoesViral) campaign, a movement to inspire the world to engage in acts of kindness starting this Easter weekend, to pray for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and to support ADRA’s global response to the pandemic.
During a time when millions of people are staying home, the Good Goes Viral campaign is encouraging people to do good by sharing love and kindness in creative ways that creates connectedness among family, friends, neighbors, and strangers, while maintaining social distancing.
This Easter weekend, ADRA invites people of all backgrounds and communities to join Good Goes Viral by engaging in positive activities that encourage others and bring hope to those who need it most. People can join the movement by engaging in any of the following activities:
Donate to ADRA’s COVID-19 relief efforts around the world (to learn more, go to ADRA.org/covidresponse)
Organize a virtual weekly lunch or dinner with friends and family
Join ADRA’s live Facebook discussion on hope and prayer every Monday at 12 p.m. (EDT). (Prayer requests can be submitted at ADRA.org/coronavirus.)
Pray for neighbors, relatives, friends, and those affected by the pandemic
Share inspirational thoughts or Bible verses with others
Make food for friends in need
Buy groceries for those who are housebound or disabled
Make weekly calls to check on friends and relatives
Send emails, text messages, or even hand-written letters of encouragement
Use art and music to inspire others to stay hopeful and positive
Start group chats to talk about daily life and to encourage each other
Share photo or video memories to stay connected with family and friends
WATCH the #GoodGoesViral promotional below:
From the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:
Dear Upper Columbia Conference family,
Please join us for a special Easter Communion Service following church worship on Sabbath, April 11. The online event will begin at 12:15 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) with members from across the North American Division welcome to join.
Regardless of our necessary stay at home mandate, through technology, we will celebrate our faith in Jesus’ love, sacrifice and resurrection. Because He lives, we remain resolute and unafraid. I pray that you will join us in this communion.
To prepare for this online event, please follow the steps below.
• Read John 13 and Desire of Ages, pages 642 – 661. If possible, please conduct the ordinance of humility in your home.
• Prepare the bread. For a recipe to make unleavened bread, please visit sp.uccsda.org/communion
• Get unfermented grape juice.
• Remember to celebrate—Communion should always be a solemn, never somber, experience. Wrongs have been righted, sins have been forgiven, and faith has been reaffirmed. It is a time for celebration!
The service will be streamed online and available from sp.uccsda.org/communion.
We hope you will join us!
Minner Labrador Jr.
Upper Columbia Conference