News briefs from Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Pennsylvania Conference, The 2020 Virtual Summit on Abuse, Southern Adventist University and AdventHealth:

From ADRA (edited for length) – Immediately after the escalation of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on September 27, (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) ADRA offices in both countries mobilized to supply urgently needed food and supplies to civilians who lost their homes or were forced to flee from the fighting.

The recent violence has been described by news agencies as the worst since 1994 in an ongoing conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh). Heavy artillery fire and missile attacks have destroyed homes, buildings and infrastructure in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas, according to local authorities. Military and civilian casualties have been reported on both sides.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, have fled from the front lines to Armenia. The Armenian government has provided shelter for many of them in hotels and hostels, while others are staying with relatives, friends or strangers, according to Anush Safaryan, country director for ADRA in Armenia.

“These displaced people are quickly running out of food, hygiene supplies and medicines,” Safaryan says. “Meanwhile, those left behind in the conflict zone are hiding in underground shelters for safety from the frequent shelling and missile attacks.”

The day after the fighting broke out, Safaryan visited the conflict zone to assess the needs and discovered that the most pressing need was food. The following day, volunteers from local Adventist churches joined with the ADRA team to pack 100 bags of food.

ADRA staff, along with three Adventist pastors, delivered 90 of the food packages to families in and around Stepanakert, the largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has suffered extensive shelling. The rest of the food packages were given to displaced people in Goris, the nearest city in Armenia, where many residents of the conflict zone have taken refuge.

In Azerbaijan, ADRA also moved quickly to assist residents near the Nagorno-Karabakh border whose homes and property had been destroyed.

“ADRA, with the help of a local sponsor, purchased warm clothes, medicines and water to distribute in the affected villages,” reports Tural Piriyev, country director for ADRA in Azerbaijan. “But after contacting government officials, we were asked to wait since it is not safe to go there now due to constant rocket attacks.” Piriyev plans to deliver the supplies this week if conditions permit.

On Sunday, October 11, 2020, a constituency meeting voted to move the Pennsylvania Conference office to the campus of Blue Mountain Academy (BMA) in Hamburg, from its current facility in Reading, about 25 miles away. The new office will be equipped with space to film and edit videos and to livestream events, enabling a stronger connection with members across the state. The new facility will be located in the building where the health food store is located and use about 13,000 square feet of the underutilized 36,600-square-foot building. Construction to renovate the building is expected to take approximately 12 months once permits are granted. The current office was built in 1926 as a personal residence and purchased by the conference in 1951. The offices of the Adventist WholeHealth Network are also located on the campus.

SUMMIT ON ABUSE

The 2020 Virtual Summit on Abuse (November 13) will provide valuable training that will equip and prepare you for when abuse occurs. You can make a difference. The 2020 keynote speaker will be Mary Demuth, author of “WeToo: How the Church can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis.”

Creating safe churches and communities starts with being informed. Together, we can keep the people in your church, school, camp, and community safe.

This year’s topics include:
Abuse in Faith Communities – Mary DeMuth
Church Toolkit: Practical Tips & Resources for Safe Churches and Schools – Rene Drumm
How to Protect Children and Youth – Ingrid Slikkers
Digging out of the Pit of Spiritual Abuse – Doug Tilstra

Registration is FREE for anyone who wishes to participate. All are welcome to register and watch.

Please use your digital influence to help us spread the word about this important event!

David Smith has announced that he will retire in May 2021 at the conclusion of his fifth year as president of Southern Adventist University. Smith has a long relationship there, where he began teaching English in 1981, serving 17 years as professor and then department chair.

Florida Trend, a publication focused on providing business, political, tourism, and education news from across the state, named AdventHealth President/CEO Terry Shaw and AdventHealth Central Florida Division President/CEO Daryl Tol to its Florida 500 list. The recognition honors influential executives representing various economic and business sectors throughout Florida.

Shaw and Tol, who were selected in the Life Sciences category, made up entirely of health care leaders, have been central figures in AdventHealth’s innovation, growth, and expansion both statewide and nationally. They have also been at the forefront of the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein AdventHealth has leveraged leading-edge treatment and technology to care for patients and has also served in key advisory roles with local government and business leaders.

This year marks the third edition of the Florida 500. Those making the list were selected across more than 60 business categories. Florida Trend chose the honorees based on extensive contacts in regional business circles, hundreds of interviews, and months of research.

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