News reports from New South Wales, Australia; Portland, Oregon; Friedensau Adventist University; the Ohio Conference; Bogenhofen Seminary and College View Church on the campus of Union College:

From APD – According to the Adventist Record on November 11, there were 72 fires, 36 of them burning uncontrollably in New South Wales, the state in southeastern Australia, with Sydney as its capital. There, three people were reported as dead, five missing, 40 injured, 150 houses were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of acres of bushland were lost. Seventh-day Adventist churches supported the local authorities as evacuation centers and hosted or served together with local Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) branches. ADRA served people who were displaced by the fire by giving them water, food, clothing and household articles. ADRA Australia is working with local Adventist congregations across the country to help families in need.

Pastor Adrian Raethel, president of the Adventist Church in northern New South Wales, said that, at present, he knew of no serious damage to Adventist schools or church buildings.

Laura Pascoe has accepted an offer to become the new executive director for Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) in Portland, Oregon. She began her duties in mid-November after a four-month search process by the board. She served as the ACS coordinator for the Oregon Conference over the last two years and before that she spent eight years as the co-founder and director of God’s Closet in Vancouver, Washington.

The West Salem Mission in the Ohio Conference will have a grand opening celebration for its new building this Sabbath (November 23). The church is an outreach to the Amish community, located in a county in Ohio that has one of the largest Amish populations in the United States.

It is known among Adventists as “the Amish Mission church.” Congregation leaders Andy Weaver and Abe Raber will be ordained as local elders.

Weaver will lead the Sabbath School, which will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the divine worship service will begin at 11:00 a.m. Weaver will host the Sabbath School. Pastor Oswaldo Magaña, Ohio Conference executive secretary, will be the preacher for worship and a potluck will follow. Weaver says he expects a considerable number of people from across Ohio and outside the state to attend.

Over the weekend of 15 to 17 November, Bogenhofen Seminary in Austria celebrated its 70th anniversary. Bogenhofen is the educational institution of the Adventist denomination in German-speaking Switzerland and Austria. Robert Wimmer, mayor of St. Peter am Hart; Pastor Stephan Sigg, leader of the Adventist Church in Switzerland; and Pastor Reinhard Schwab, leader of the Adventist Church in Austria, were the speakers for the event. The keynote address was given by Dr. Hans Heinz, a student at the school when it first opened in 1949, who later served as theology professor and principal at the institution from 1963 to 1970. Bogenhofen currently has 92 students in secondary school, 34 in theology, 17 in the School of Education and 11 in the Language Institute.

From the APD – On the 125th anniversary of the College View Church on the campus of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, there was a look back into history of the Adventist faith, and Dr. Linda Becker, on behalf of the congregation, asked forgiveness for the way people of color have been treated. “In the past, the College View Church has not treated people of color as we should have,” Becker said. “They were asked to sit in the gallery or have even been turned away at the entrance. They were not taken in as were whites. Today we ask our friends of color for forgiveness for what we did to previous generations. We are sorry that we have not seen you as God’s children like ourselves. We ask you and God to forgive us. May God’s love reach all the people in the future in this church regardless of skin color, status or circumstances.” Then the worshipers were invited to participate in a prayer especially written for the occasion. It acknowledged “our shortcomings,” asked for forgiveness and made a promise “to worship God and to celebrate His goodness together with all brothers and sisters.”

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