Stories from the Ozarks, Zimbabwe, Oakwood University, Papua New Guinea, Ohio, Ghana and California …..

The Ozarks Sustainable Living Festival was convened Sunday (September 18) by the Next Step Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Plains, Missouri. Local farmers and businesses offered natural health products, plants native to the region, energy alternatives and information, reported the West Plains Daily Quill. Seminars were offered on sustainable food, energy, community, shelter and economics. Participants were served veggie burgers and the University of Missouri was involved in the event. “Our long term goal is to spread a city-wide movement of sustainability,” Pastor Craig Wiles told the newspaper. The congregation organized a similar event four years ago; it has 75 members and is affiliated with the denomination’s Iowa-Missouri Conference. The Ozarks is a hilly rural region in the southern part of the state noted for traditional food, crafts and music.

Jonathan T. Mhlanga, president of the Highlanders soccer club in Zimbabwe and an Adventist, died last Thursday (September 15) and his funeral was held on Sunday at Makokoba Adventist Church, according to the ZimEye news service. Mhlanga’s son Lennox was quoted stating that his father had attended the Adventist Church for most of his life. He was 81 years of age, reported the Chronicle, and began to develop a business in sport in the 1960s when moved back home from Cape Town, South Africa, where he was the first black manager of a shop in that city.

Melvin Harris, police chief for Oakwood University, was appointed a member of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Some 300 leaders of police agencies are participating in a series of discussions organized by the task force in response to the current turmoil in the United States regarding the number of deaths of African Americans in police custody. “It’s clear that law enforcement has a long way to go to rebuild trust in local communities,” he told the university news office. Oakwood is an Adventist university located in Huntsville, Alabama.

Six district pastors in the Eastern Highlands Simbu region of Papua New Guinea were given motorbikes from a donation of six new Yamaha AG 200 bikes recently, reported ANN. They each cover large areas and often travel on rough mountain roads and trails through the wilderness. The motorbikes make it possible for them to get around to the churches more quickly and be home with their families more often. (The Adventist News Network is the official news service of the denomination.)

Jim Spitler, a volunteer at the Newark (Ohio) Adventist Community Services (ACS) center, was named retiree volunteer of the year by Owens Corning corporation last week. The award came with a $10,000 donation to the ACS center, reported the Newark Advocate. At 93 years of age, Spitler still gives three days a week to ACS as manager if the center’s food pantry. Surveys show that 30 percent of the active members of the denomination in North American volunteer for ACS like Spitler does; an estimated 273,000 Adventists who staff the denomination’s domestic social services organization in the United States, Canada and Bermuda. Spitler worked at Owens Corning for 39 years. It is a major, international manufacturing company.

A civic education club has been inaugurated at Kofiase Adventist Senior High Technical School in Mampong, Ghana, reported the Graphic. The club has the goal of promoting active involvement in local government by citizens. It seeks to teach the principles of democracy and constitutional government, as well as develop a practical commitment to social justice and equality. This is especially important as Ghana heads toward a general election in December this year. The club is recognized by the National Commission for Civic Education.

Kendall Fults, an administrator for Adventist Health in Hanford, California, will be honored with Bridwell Humanitarian Award for 30 of service to the community, announced The Sentinel this week. “His leadership has resulted in the growth of physician services and health care facilities in this region,” the newspaper quoted Wayne Ferch, president of the Central Valley Network for Adventist Health. In 1986, Fults began working as a Registered Nurse and later went on to executive jobs. He played a key role when Adventist Health purchased Sacred Heart Hospital and helped raise more than a million dollars over the years by bringing big-name entertainers to Hanford to do benefits for Adventist Health, including the legendary Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Henry Mancini, John Denver and Frankie Valli. Adventist Health is the health ministry organization of the denomination in the western United States.