Stories from Washington DC, Kenya, Canada, Sabbathday Lake (Maine), Australia, the White House, New York City and the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) ……..      

An Adventist minister was a key speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday in Washington DC which was attended by United States President Donald Trump, Vice President Michael Pence and other top political and religious leaders. Chaplain Barry Black received an enthusiastic response to his remarks by Trump, who momentarily forgot that he does not appoint the Chaplain of the Senate as people watched the live proceedings on several news channels worldwide. Black shared how his mother encouraged him as a child to memorize Bible verses when he discovered that Christ “died for me, no one way able to make me feel inferior again” despite being born in poverty. Black was an Adventist pastor who became a Navy chaplain with the endorsement of the denomination, rising to chief of all U.S. Navy chaplains with the rank of Rear Admiral. When he retired from the Navy 15 years ago, the following year he was elected Senate chaplain. When a CNN journalist asked Black’s views on controversial issues, he said that he leaves that to the politicians; he answers to the Almighty God of the universe. Adventist Today has published a full report in our News section.

Adventist schools will continue to hire teachers and administrators on performance contracts to enhance quality results for students, Pastor Julius Bichang’a, president of the South Kenya Conference, told a reporter for the Hivisasa news web site on Monday (January 30). He addressed fears among parents and the public that Adventist schools are poorly run and producing poor results in national testing. He stated that performance contracts have been introduced as a tool to reverse the perception of poor performance in national tests among church schools in the region. Church membership would not result in school administrators keeping their jobs if performance was low, the journalist reported that Bichang’a told a gathering of conference employees. This statement came amid public outcry over the poor showing by Adventist schools in national tests. “We take this opportunity to assure our members and the general public that from today henceforth all the [Adventist] schools across this conference will be … run by professionally qualified heads and … these institutions [will be] centers of excellence for your children,” Bichang’a was quoted.

Adventist leaders in Canada issued a statement after the shooting at a Muslim mosque in Quebec City on Sunday evening (January 29). “The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada joins citizens across our nation in mourning the loss of six innocent lives in the senseless killings,” they said. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of each victim, continuing to keep them in our prayers.… There is no place for hatred of a person’s race or religion, as well as the actions that are based on this hatred. We believe that God has called us to love all of our neighbors equally, regardless of race, gender, religion, or lifestyle. Therefore, we stand with the people of Quebec and with the people across Canada that will continue to daily demonstrate a spirit of love, compassion, and peace in midst of such sadness and despair. We pray for the day when all people of all races, genders, religions, and lifestyles can live their lives without fear or hatred. We encourage the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to embody the character of Jesus by demonstrating the love and compassion He exemplified.” And the statement quoted the words of Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) There are more than 100,000 Adventists in Canada connected with 462 congregations. Adventists operate 43 schools in the nation from Kindergarten to university level.

Among the Adventist movements of the early 19th century was that of the Shakers led by Mother Ann Lee. After the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, some of the followers of William Miller joined the Shakers while a smaller number became the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. One of the last three Shakers died in December; Sister Frances Carr at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, where the remaining two continue to live at the only remaining Shaker colony. Like many Adventists, the Shakers tried to live their lives in preparation for Christ’s coming kingdom; they practiced equality between genders, celibacy, pacifism and communal ownership of property. In a textbook example of the fact that beliefs have consequences, “they are dying out because of celibacy, because they aren’t attracting new prospects and because they stopped taking in orphans,” reported The Guardian newspaper on January 3.

An Adventist physician is among those listed in the 2017 Australia Day Honors List. Dr. Geoffrey Painter was honored by the Australian government for more than 30 mission trips to the Solomon Islands, China and the Philippines over the past two decades during which he helped to end cataract blindness for many sufferers. To see people brought in blind and then see again “is the greatest joy in my work,” the ophthalmology specialist told the Record, the Adventist news magazine for the South Pacific. He is part of the staff at Dalcross Adventist Hospital in the suburbs of Sydney which specializes in ophthalmology and rehabilitation.

The son-in-law and daughter of the new United States President Donald Trump are Sabbath-keepers. Jared Kushner, who has been named to the White House staff, and Ivanka, who played a key role in the election campaign, are not available from sundown Friday to Sundown Saturday even by phone, Email or text messaging, as they observe the Sabbath according to their Orthodox Jewish faith. He was raised in the faith and she converted at the time of their marriage in 2009. There are about 15 million Jews around the world and about twice that many Adventists. Between 10 and 15 percent of Jewish believers are part of the Orthodox denomination. Perhaps another million believers affiliated with small denominations such as the Seventh-day Baptists are also Sabbath-keepers.

A Certification Program in Nonprofit Leadership is being offered again in 2017 by the Adventist Community Services national charity affiliated with the denomination’s North American Division. The first session is May 5-8 and the second is September 22-25. A person must attend both sessions in order to graduate with a certificate. There is a $200 registration fee. The classes will be located at the ACS Center in Queens, New York City. Participants do not have to be part of the ACS organization. For more information go to www.communityservices.org on the Web or phone (301) 680-6438.

News about religion will no longer be available on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in America with the last edition of Reigion & Ethics Newsweekly with Bob Abernathy on February 24. It has been on television since 1997. Most stations in the network are no longer airing the series on their primary channels, stated Donna Williams, a spokeswoman for PBS. “The multicast channels have fewer viewers, and the costs and benefits didn’t really make sense any longer,” she explained to Christian Century magazine. We at Adventist Today are well aware that professional journalism covering religion is an endangered species. You can help to assure our continued reporting via the Web, Email, Facebook, Twitter and on paper by going to www.atoday.org and clicking on “Donations” at the top left of the home page. Or, you can phone the AT office at (503) 826-8600 or mail a check to Box 1135, Sandy, Oregon 97055. We also need your support in terms of suggesting stories we should cover.