News Briefs from Lincoln, Nebraska; Norway; Kinship Kampmeeting; Bucyrus, Ohio; Orangewood Academy; Andrews University and the Lake Union:

The Mid-America Union’s Outlook news site reported that Lincoln, Nebraska-based College View Church’s missionary group narrowly escaped being indefinitely stranded in Honduras recently.

Coronavirus travel restrictions complicated the return of the group consisting of 19 high school students and 15 adults. They had been doing volunteer service in the form of medical screening and construction.

The group headed to Honduras on March 11 when travel restrictions were minor. However, matters escalated when the Honduran government closed the country’s borders four days after the group’s arrival in Honduras.

United Airlines (the group’s airline) then cancelled normal flights to and from the country. Trip organizers contacted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s office, as well as the offices of Nebraska Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer for help. They also found a charter flight company willing to bring the group home for $145,000.

To defray costs, extra seats on the charter plane were filled by other stranded U.S. citizens. Private donations were also made to help the group.

Initially the Honduran government refused to allow the flight landing rights but Fortenberry worked with the U.S. State Department and an exception was arranged. The missionary group arrived in Kansas City safe and sound on March 25 at 4:00 pm.

After six Sabbaths of meeting by Zoom, the congregation of Lillehammer, Norway, longed for a more personal worship experience during lockdown. As with all other churches in Norway, the building was shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their simple solution was drive-in church. On Saturday, 25 April, between 40 and 50 members pulled into the church parking lot, pointing their cars towards a temporary platform constructed outside the building. The service was a success!

The 2020 Kinship Kampmeeting has been rescheduled as a Zoom event on Sabbath, July 18. It will start at noon Eastern time / 9 am GMT. Speakers will include Alicia Johnston and Brandon Frazier. Additional information is available at Seventh-day Adventist Kinship is the organization of LGBT Adventists.

The Bucyrus, Ohio, Adventist church held their first “drive-in” worship service on Sabbath, May 2. The event was open to the entire district and surrounding community.

District pastor Marcellus de Oliveira reported, “We had 14 cars in the parking lot and a total of 24 people from the district.”

“What a beautiful day it was,” said Teresa Catlett, Bucyrus church treasurer. “For our small church, this was wonderful! We had members from Bucyrus, Galion, and Marion and some non-members as far away as Prospect.”

The service was broadcast live to members via Zoom and to the public on Facebook. “Everyone said they enjoyed the program,” said Catlett. With the notable exception of some slight audio interference by strong winds, the quality of the program was said to be quite good.

Pastor de Oliveira plans to continue the drive-in service throughout the month of May. All are welcome to attend.

Orangewood Academy teachers surprised their seniors on Friday, May 1st, with an auto caravan to deliver yard signs and donuts and say hello. The Adventist secondary school is in Garden Grove, California. To deliver signs, the teachers drove as far west as Redondo Beach, north to Compton, and east to Riverside. Students and teachers were equally excited to see each other and celebrate their outstanding seniors!

Like other universities, Andrews University (AU) has been carefully watching trends of COVID-19 and is considering the options for both keeping the campus community safe and fulfilling the mission of delivering strong Adventist education. Administration must follow the Michigan Safe Start Plan, put out recently by the Governor. AU plans on opening its campus again this fall, starting August 24. “We believe we have a strong plan in place to mitigate risk as we focus on safety for all of our community, including our students and employees,” said Dr. Andrea Luxton, AU president. “However, we will be flexible, creative and responsive to any changing situation and, if needed, will make additional changes to help assure the safety of our students, employees and community.”

The Lake Union Herald reported that members of the Big Rapids, Reed City, and Bristol, Michigan, churches came together on the first Sabbath in May to worship safely, while social-distancing in their vehicles.They utilized a portable speaker system, a guitar and accordion for special music, and a makeshift truck platform to bring the service together.

They had even prepped for a forecasted rainstorm, but the skies miraculously cleared to blue, minutes before the sermon. After the service, members waved to each other and shouted words of blessing and encouragement as rows of cars were dismissed.

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