Stories from Germany, Oakwood University, Norway, Pennsylvania, the South Pacific, Italy, Dayton (Ohio), Washington DC, La Sierra University, Northeastern United States, Burman University, Walla Walla University …….      

Adventist leaders in Germany congratulated the nation’s new president, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier the day after his election on Sunday (February 12). Pastor John Naether, president of the denomination’s North German Union Conference, said that he was praying for the new president and hoped he would appreciate the foundation of the constitution in values that are fed by Christian faith. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the president is head of state, not head of government. Steinmeier was previously foreign minister. There are about 50,000 Adventists in Germany, including the Seventh-day Adventist denomination and the Reformed Seventh Day Adventist movement.

The first round of the 28th annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge was won by Oakwood University, among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in its region. The only Adventist institution among the HBCU competed against Alabama State University, Harris Stowe State University, Miles College and Talladega College on February 3 and will go on to the national championship, April 8-12 in Torrence, California. The academic competition, something like the old College Bowel game on television, includes a $75,000 grant for the winning school. Each team includes four students and three alternates.

The Association of Adventist Health Professionals was organized in Norway by young professionals at a meeting of 150 people last week in Oslo. The purpose is to develop collaboration with pastors and congregations in meeting the health needs of local communities, maintaining the highest ethical standards, quality of treatment and health science in following the example of Jesus in serving people. Pastor Reidar Kvinge, president of the Adventist denomination in Norway, welcomed the association; “I am grateful for the highly skilled medical professionals of our church.” There are about 5,000 Adventists in the Scandinavian country of 5.2 million inhabitants. The denomination operates a health rehabilitation center and a nursing home.

Blue Mountain Academy, an Adventist secondary school in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, is opening a health food store on Sunday (February 19). The store will provide vegetarian and vegan groceries, including non-GMO and organic products, including locally-grown produce, honey, herbal teas, eggs, soybeans, soy flours, sprouts, wheat grass and organic applesauce. The store will also sell books and gifts. It is located at 2363 Mountain Road near the campus of the boarding school operated by the denomination’s Pennsylvania Conference.

Full-time professional disaster response coordinators have been added to staff of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. This will make it possible to do a better job of responding to crises and develop greater preparedness. Funding for the expanded personnel was raised by the ADRA offices in Australia, New Zealand and Germany. The Pacific island nations are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and have significant numbers of Adventists, reports APD, the Adventist news service in Europe.

Representatives of the Adventist Church recently visited the refugee camp on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea to learn how its refugee ministry might respond to the growing need. The team included Dag Pontvik, director of the Italy branch of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA); Pastor Corrado Cozzi, communication director for the denomination’s division office in Switzerland; Paolo Mariotti from Hope Channel Italy and Daryl Gungado from Adventist World Radio. They found many other non-governmental organizations already providing services to the refugees and were told that the greatest need is finding places for the refugees to resettle in countries where their lives will not be in danger.

Kettering Health Network, the Adventist health ministry in the Dayton metropolitan area, announced Tuesday (February 14) that it is adding two new outpatient centers in the suburbs of West Carollton and Oakwood. Roy Chew, the network president, met with municipal officials in Oakwood and was interviewed by the Dayton Daily News. The goal is “to better serve the community by offering services closer to home for many of its patients.” Mayor William Duncan welcomed the network’s decision to invest in Oakwood where several businesses have closed recently. Kettering is one of the largest employers in the Ohio city and operates eight hospitals, ten emergency centers and 120 outpatient facilities.

The Christian radio station operated in the United States capital by Washington Adventist University raised enough money to sponsor 950 children through Compassion International in a three-day campaign earlier this month. WGTS-FM has the largest listening audience of any of the religious radio stations in the metro area. “The WGTS listening family has shown once again how generous they truly are,” said Kevin Kruger, the station manager. The sponsorships provide food, medical care, Christian education, occupational skills training and spiritual ministry.

Students at La Sierra University, the Adventist institution in Riverside, are collecting 1,000 pairs of shoes for hurricane survivors in Haiti. The first 500 pairs were given by students, faculty and staff during a chapel service last week. The congregation was asked to give the shoes they were wearing and leave the university church after the service by taking a pair of flip-flops from boxes in the lobby. Caleb Orozco, a freshman pre-dentistry major, said he gave a pair of Creative Recreation shoes he had on and then later contributed a pair of Vans. Sandra Fermin, the student association vice president for spiritual activities, organized the event because “donating money is out of the question [for] most of us students … struggling financially.” The university has received recognition for its focus on involving students in service from the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Money magazine, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Carnegie Foundation and in 2013 won the Presidential Award. It has 2,300 students and graduate schools of business, education and ministry.

Adventist young adults from across the northeastern United States spent last weekend (February 10-12) in a GODencounters retreat. The goal was to deepen devotion to Jesus, “wholeheartedly seeking a 24/7 experience of God, recklessly living for His renown.” Speakers included youth pastors Benjamin Lundquist, Rohann Wellington and Paulo Macena and the special guest musician Terell Davy from the denomination’s Florida Conference.

Dr. Loren Agrey has been appointed president of Burman University, the Adventist higher-education institution in Canada. He is dean for undergraduate affairs at Kettering College in Dayton, Ohio. He was previously president of Asia-Pacific International University, the Adventist institution in Thailand, and was a faculty member and vice president for academic administration at Burman in 2003-2010. He has a PhD in education from the University of Alberta. Dr, Mark Haynal, the current president, is not a Canadian citizen and is leaving because his work permit is expiring.

Dr. Carl Cosaert, a Bible scholar on the faculty of Walla Walla University, has become president of the Adventist Theological Society. He has been president-elect for the last two years and will now serve as president for two years. The society is one of several academic professional associations among Adventist theologians and religion scholars, often seen as the more conservative group. Cosaert has traveled for the organization in Africa, Australia, Mexico and other countries “helping educate church leaders as they grow in their understanding of the biblical basis of our Adventist beliefs.”

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