News reports from the Philippines, Roseville (California), Battle Creek (Michigan), Loma Linda University Health, Australia, Ukiah (California), Kenya and Jamaica.

This month the communication department of the Southern Asia Pacific Division (SSD) of the Adventist Church announced a landmark Sabbath rights ruling of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The ruling, originally made in July 2017, had recently been made public and allows an Adventist student to continue his studies while keeping the Sabbath. Denmark Valores, an Adventist student at Mindanao State University- College of Medicine had petitioned against the institution for penalizing him due to his non-attendance of class on Saturdays. His petitions had not been successful until the Supreme Court decision which now allows him to continue his education without having to attend classes on Saturday.

Bond ratings agency Fitch Ratings has upgraded its outlook for Roseville, California-based Adventist Health from stable to positive. According to a January 25 article in Modern Healthcare, the agency predicts additional growth and an improved financial profile for the system. Fitch has given an ‘A’ grade to the approximately $930 million of Adventist Health outstanding rated debt. Adventist Health has 19 hospitals in California, the Northwest and Hawaii. However, Fitchsaid that its real credit strength comes from its network which has over 280 clinics.

New details have emerged about two Kelloggs Co. former employees, Richard Tabura and Guadalupe Diaz who had been fired from the company for not working on Saturday and had subsequently sued the company for religious discrimination. The U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, ruled that Kellogg should not have won the lawsuit as it initially did before the U.S. District Court for the state of Utah. However, the appellate court also ruled that there was insufficient evidence to rule in favor of Tabura and Diaz, which is why the case is being returned to the district court.

On January 15, Loma Linda University Health implemented new visitor requirements due to the severity of the current flu season. The limitations, which are still in place, forbid visitors under the age of 18. In addition, visitors will not be admitted if showing signs of influenza symptoms. The announcement on the Loma Linda University website states: “These visitor restrictions will remain in place as long as necessary while influenza is widespread in our area.”

Loma Linda University Health physicians have earned the first-ever board certification in lifestyle medicine. With seven physicians gaining certification, this makes LLUH the organization with the largest number of newly-certified practitioners in the United States. The American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (ABLM) introduced the Lifestyle Medicine certification last fall.

A writer at Australian entertainment site Pedestrian.TV has referred to his own Adventist roots while revealing that English-born Australian celebrity singer and media personality Peter Andre left his Jehovah’s Witness faith so that he could have sex. In a commentary piece on January 25, David Adams said of himself that he was raised as an Adventist but that as he now writes for a “sweary and irreverent outlet focussed on pop culture, I think I came out of the situation quite alright.” He goes on to elaborate that “Harry Potter and Pokémon were banned at my school. We had a pastor unironically tell us Lady Gaga and Jay-Z were card-carrying members of the Illuminati, and every Friday night was either spent at home or at some preposterously hormonal youth service.” Adams said that he has become “very, very good at papering over the gaping holes in my pop culture knowledge” and that he has “managed to extricate myself from the church, its theology, and its overarching culture…” He said that he delighted in discovering when prominent media figures like Andre also came from sheltered religious backgrounds. As for Andre, David notes that according to the podcast Guilty Feminist (hosted by a former Jehovah’s Witness,) Andre gave as his reason for leaving the church “I just really needed to have sex.”

The Ukiah Daily Journal profiled the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley’s Street Medicine Program on January 25. The grant-funded program started two years ago and will, according to the hospital, be continued in 2018 and beyond. “There is an economic, societal and a business argument for street medicine. There are societal costs for people being on the street. It’s far more expensive to go into intensive care rather than primary care. Our hospital is sponsoring this program for moral and spiritual reasons, and also because there is rational math behind it. We’re bringing health care to people when and where they need it, instead of waiting for them to end up in the ER when they’re dying. This is prevention,” said Dr. Noemi “Mimi” Doohan, the program’s medical director.

The oldest prisoner at Kodiaga Prison in the Kenyan port town of Kisumu has been released at the age of 87. According Kenya’s Standard Media news site, Alfayo Gombe, an Adventist, had served a 15-year sentence for “defilement, which he claims arose out of trumped-up charges.” The legal definition of defilement in Kenya is sexual intercourse with someone under 18 with or without consent. Gombe had always denied the charge against him. An appeal of his sentence won the reduction of prison time from 20 to 15 years. Gombe joined the Adventist Church mere days into his prison sentence and spent the years in prison as a lay preacher.

Seventy-seven Justice of the Peace initiates were installed on January 17th in a ceremony at the conference office of the Adventist Church in West Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Observer, the JPs will serve the Jamaican parish of St James in Jamaica’s Montego Bay. At the ceremony it was stressed that serious crimes like murder would receive priority attention. This month a state of emergency was declared in the Montego Bay area due to dramatically escalating crime rates.

Former Loma Linda University president Lyn Behrens, archaelogist Douglas Clark, theologian Richard Rice, and General Conference Vice President Ella Simmons will be honored by the Charles Elliott Weniger Society for Excellence at its annual awards ceremony February 17, 2018. One student from each of the North American Adventist colleges and universities will also be honored. The awards for excellence are given in honor of the memory of Dr. Weniger, the former dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary at Andrews University. The February 17 ceremony will take place at Loma Linda University Church. It starts at 4 pm.

To comment, click here