Reports from the United Nations, Washington DC, Belgium, Jamaica, Loma Linda University, Botswana and two important new book releases.

Jonathan Duffy, president of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), spoke to the World Humanitarian Summit early this week in Istanbul, Turkey. The meeting was convened by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general because the world is currently experiencing the highest level of human suffering since World War II. About 5,000 leaders of relief organizations, representatives of affected communities and heads of governments and other institutions and corporations came together to better coordinate efforts to relieve suffering from disasters, famine, disease, poverty and violence. A video of his presentation can be seen here.

Five billion people in the world currently experience religious discrimination and persecution, and to get greater attention focused on this problem the Adventist denomination’s convened an International Religious Liberty Summit on Tuesday (May 24) at the Newseum in Washington DC. It brought together 250 people, including representatives of a number of advocacy organizations, government officials, journalists and Adventist religious liberty directors. Among the speakers were Frank Wolf, who was an elected member of the United States Congress for 36 years and now works with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, and E. J. Dionne, renowned political commentator for the Washington Post. Originally planned for about 120 participants, the even proved to be so popular that the actual attendance more than doubled.

It was announced yesterday that Joao Martins was appointed to direct the new Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) regional office in Brussels, Belgium. He will coordinate the national ADRA agencies in both the Adventist denomination’s Trans-European Division (TED) and Inter European Division (EUD). He has worked for ADRA Portugal for a dozen years, prior to that working for a multinational corporation and as a young adult had a stint as ADRA director in Angola during the civil war there. He has a business management degree from the University of Evora in Portugal and a graduate degree in international development from the University of Reading in England.

Hundreds of students from the schools in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, participated in a march against child abuse organized by the Adventist Church a week ago Thursday (May 19), reported the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. Students from preschool through secondary school levels carried posters through the community and then ended with a mass meeting at the Word of Hope Adventist Church. Officials from three relevant government agencies shared information during the meeting and Lorraine Vernal, director of children’s, women’s and family ministries for the denomination’s Jamaica Union Conference, announced that child protection committees are being organized in each congregation in the country which will administer a screening process for any adults who work with children in the church.

Leaders from all five of the Adventist health care organizations in the United States participated in a bioethics conference at Loma Linda University. The full day event was put together by the Institute for Health Policy and Leadership and the Center for Christian Bioethics at the university to provide information and opportunity for dialog among the administrators at the Adventist hospital systems who supervise ethical issues in the institutions. Another bioethics conference will be held next year.

Gladys Kokorwe, Speaker of the National Assembly in Botswana, thanked the Adventist denomination for organizing a special event on May 8 to honor the nation’s senior citizens, reported the Daily News. She praised the Adventist Church for going beyond just making converts and caring for the welfare of the community. The special day was organized by the Botswana Union Conference. There are over 200 congregations with nearly 50,000 Adventists among a population of two million in this African nation.

The new edition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, including revisions voted at the General Conference Session last summer in San Antonio, Texas, has been published as an eBook through Amazon, the online book distributor. This is the English-language version which is 441 pages, according to the Amazon catalog listing. You can purchase a copy through your Kindle or at www.Amazon.com. Amazon also recently started distributing a volume of the papers from last year’s European Theology Teachers’ Convention at Newbold College entitled Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda. Both eBook and paperback editions are available at www.Amazon.com.