Stories from Ghana, California, Zambia, Canada, Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania, Zambia (again), Oregon and Southern Adventist University in Tennessee …..

With a scandal surrounding the president of the country during an election campaign, an Adventist leader told a gathering of the denomination’s Central Ghana Conference that leaders in both government and the church must refuse to receive gifts. Pastor Mathew Bediako, retired world secretary of the denomination, made the statement Sunday in a sermon opening the conference constituency meeting, according to the Nhyira News. John D. Mahama, president of Ghana, was given a $100,000 automobile in 2012 by a building contractor who was awarded at least three construction contracts by the government. Mahama faces an election in November and recently the leader of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana revealed that he had been offered bribes by unnamed politicians. The Commission on Human Rights and Administration of Justice is investigating. In the Adventist faith “one of our key statements is that the greatest want of the world today,” Bediako was quoted by the newspaper. “The greatest want of Ghana today is to have men and women who cannot be bought or be sold.” Bediako has spoken out on this topic in the pastor, as Adventist Today reported in 2014.

Pacific Union College is taking steps to preserve the 856 acres of forest that it owns in northern California. The land contains redwood trees rarely seen so far inland and it borders the 800-acre Las Posadas State Forest, both forming a major share of the watershed for Moore Creek and Lake Hennessey, the source of much of the drinking water in Napa County. The Adventist college has launched a community fund raising effort to get the final $2.7 million needed to establish an $8 million conservation easement and $1 million endowment to manage the forest. It is working in collaboration with the Land Trust of Napa County and the California Fire Service, reported the Saint Helena Star. The college would sell the development rights by establishing the easement, a common tool for preserving undeveloped land. Although the college would still own the land, neither it nor any future owner could cut down the trees or alter the landscape. Government grants have already provided $6.3 million for the project. The college also owns 579 acres of agricultural land that has offered for sale for $51.5 million. The funds from both the sale of the easement and the sale of the land will go into an endowment to provide scholarships to students.

Adventists in Zambia gathered on Sabbath (August 3) to pray for peace as the country was plunged into a constitutional crisis. A national election was held August 11 and the Election Commission declared that President Edgar Lungu was re-elected with 50.35 percent of the vote. The main opposition party filed a petition with the Constitutional Court challenging this outcome and asking that power be transferred immediately to the Speaker of parliament and the custody of all the ballots and election documents be protected until the case could be resolved. Pastor Vivian Kanondo told The Post that “God would not give the country a leader who is corrupt and divisive.” Church members prayed for wisdom for the Constitutional Court.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada held its national constituency session August 19-21 on the campus of Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta. Pastor Mark Johnson was re-elected president of the denomination in Canada. Also appointed: Pastor Daniel Stojanofic, executive secretary; Ulysses Guarin, treasurer; Paul Musafill, undertreasurer; Betty Bayer, director of the denomination’s school system in Canada; Lori Dooks, director of health benefits for denominational employees in Canada; Grace Mackintosh, legal counsel and director of public affairs and religious liberty; and Marilyn Pazitka, director of the denominational retirement plan for Canadian employees.

The 70th anniversary of Pine Forge Academy was celebrated on Sabbath (September 3) with remarks by Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, the oldest daughter of United States President Lyndon B. Johnson, former First Lady of the State of Virginia and the wife of a U.S. Senator. She was invited to honor the civil rights laws passed under the leadership of her father a half century ago which have made a great difference in the lives of African Americans and other minorities, reported the Reading Eagle. Pine Forge Academy is the only Adventist boarding academy in the country which is historically a black institution. Robb told the hundreds of alumni who gathered from across the nation that she accepted the invitation because it came from Rockefeller “Rocky” Twyman, who was student body president in 1966. The Class of 1966, which celebrated its 50th anniversary, includes at least three noted alums: Donna Franklin who became the first women to teach in the sociology department at the University of Chicago; Dr. Barry Black, the first black chaplain of the U.S. Senate; and Dr. Wayman Wendell, a medical researcher who is one of the top experts on diabetes,

An Adventist church building collapsed on a camp meeting crowd on Sunday (September 4) in rural Chinsali, Zambia. At least two people were killed and 45 taken to hospital as a result of the disaster, according to the Lusaka Times. The dead were a 38-year-old woman and a three-year-old child. The injured included 13 children.

The Motorcycle Ministry of the Tillamook (Oregon) Adventist Church is sponsoring its first biker tour this weekend, starting today (September 9). Supper will be served this evening at 7 pm followed by an opening meeting. Group motorcycle rides are planned for Sabbath afternoon and Sunday, as well as a motorcycle show on Sunday, announced the Tillamook Headlight-Herald. Awards will be given for several categories of best bikes. Tent space is available on the church campus for those want to camp out.

Southern Adventist University will dedicate the Sabbath Trail, a 1.5 mile walking loop in the Fenton Forest on campus, Sabbath afternoon (September 10) at 5:30 pm near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The university was recently given 250 acres on Bauxite Ridge, adjoining the campus, reported The Chattanoogan online news publication. More than 12 miles of new walking paths have been created. Altogether, the university has 800 acres of forest on its 1,300-acre campus.