News reports from Colombia; Sonora, California; Orlando, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Jamaica, Australia and Oakwood University

From APD (the official Adventist news source for much of Europe): Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) for the world headquarters of the Adventist denomination, spoke last week at the Third Global Christian Forum (GCF) in Bogota, Colombia. Leaders from more than 250 denominations participated. GCF first convened in the late 1990s to create a space where Christian denominations who were not members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) could dialog with those who belong to the WCC. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination has not joined the WCC because of an historic disagreement with the ecumenical movement. 

The Union Democrat reported that Adventist Health Sonora was given an F in safety by the Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based hospital watchdog. Leapfrog grades hospitals twice yearly and calls itself “the nation’s only rating focused entirely on errors, accidents, injuries and infections that collectively are the third leading cause of death in the United States.” In the report card previous to the issuance of the failing safety grade, Adventist Health Sonora made a C grade.

Orlando, Florida-based Adventist University of Health Sciences has announced that Sandra Dunbar, D.P.A, OTR/L, FAOTA will serve as the institution’s new provost. Dunbar, an Adventist, is currently assistant dean of professional development and education at Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. She has a Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) from Nova Southeastern University, a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy from New York University and a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Loma Linda University.

Carolina Conference spokesperson Rebecca Carpenter has confirmed that leaders at Columbia, South Carolina’s Columbia First Seventh-day Adventist church were aware of former pastor Eduardo Elias Cornejo’s relationship with a woman who now claims the pastor sexually assaulted her. The leaders allegedly did not feel the need to contact law enforcement about the relationship. Cornejo was released from his role but it is not clear if leaders knew whether or not the sexual encounter was consensual at the time of Cornejo’s firing. Local newspaper The State reported that Cornejo, a married man, was fired for having an extra-marital affair. Police spokesman Corp. Cameron Mortenson said there could be legal consequences for anyone who knew about the alleged sexual assault but did not alert authorities.

The Jamaica Observer reported that Nigel Coke, the Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Jamaican Union Conference, has had talks with the minister of education about alternative exam dates for Adventist students when they fall on Saturdays. “We have had communication from anxious and concerned students who have stated that they have exam days on the Sabbath at the end of this semester in May. To that end, we (a team from the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists) had a meeting with the minister of education (Senator Ruel Reid) and his team two weeks ago and a proposal is being put forward, and we are expecting a favourable response,” said Coke.

The Australian edition of The Guardian reported that the New South Wales auditor general has highlighted a lack of control over how non-government schools use state government grants. The audit office reported “gaps in oversight” in the way state money was spent. Approximately 418,000 students in NSW (35% of the state total) attend non-government schools and 56% of that group goes to Catholic or Adventist schools which get funding as a “system,” instead of individual allocations. “The department does not require systems to report on how much funding each school receives, or how much funding is retained by the system for administration,” said NSW auditor general Margaret Crawford. Actions are currently being taken to increase oversight over this area of educational spending.

On Saturday, April 28, Oakwood University Church honored James Shaw, the man who stopped the shooter at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee on April 22 in the middle of a shooting rampage that killed 4 people and wounded three others. “He doesn’t consider himself a hero, but we do. We’re glad he, along with his family, siblings and daughter are here with us today,” Oakwood University Church Pastor Carlton P. Byrd said of Shaw who attended F.H. Jenkins, an Adventist prep school in Nashville, in his younger years.

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