News reports from New Jersey, Maryland, Australia, Boston College, Jamaica, the United Nations, Montana and Florida.
An Adventist immigrant from Indonesia was detained by law enforcement last week as he dropped off his daughter at a school bus stop in New Jersey. The site Democracy Now! reported that Gunawan Liem was detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Liem is a member of First Indonesian Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Liem, who is ethnic Chinese, fled persecution in Indonesia in 1999 and arrived in the US on a tourist visa. Liem’s pastor, Steven Rantung said that Liem has struggled with immigration authorities as he has appealed to stay in the US despite having American-born offspring. He has, for the last couple years, made regular check-ins with the immigration authorities. Liem is receiving help from the ACLU and other lawyers to prevent deportation.
Montgomery Community Media reports that community officials were shocked at news that Washington Adventist Hospital was planning to reduce the facilities it had previously pledged to keep in its current location of Takoma Park, Maryland. The hospital is in the process of moving to the nearby community of White Oak. When the Maryland Health Care Commission approved the move of the main hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital President, Erik Wangsness, assured authorities that key services would remain in Takoma Park. The Adventist hospital is now requesting permission to move its inpatient psychiatric hospital and inpatient physical rehabilitation hospital units, both of which were originally slated to remain, away from Takoma Park. Local leaders are concerned at the loss of what are considered critical services and the community’s biggest employer.
Dr. Darren Morton, a lifestyle medicine authority at Avondale College, is launching a lifestyle book titled “Live More Happy” on February 8. Morton is the Lead Researcher in the Lifestyle Research Centre and Course Convenor of Postgraduate Courses in Lifestyle Medicine at the Adventist college located in Cooranbong, New South Wales, in Australia. The book sets out steps to achieve happiness through healthy beliefs and practical steps. Morton subscribes to the Adventist ‘Health Message’ claiming it is more important now than when it was first shared by Adventist pioneer Ellen White over a century ago.
The Torch, Boston College’s Catholic Newspaper has reported on campus-based proselytizing by members of a sect with ties to Adventism. Members of the The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) have been approaching students attempting to convince them of the existence of God the Mother, the spouse of God the Father. The WMSCOG was founded in South Korea by the late Ahn Sahng-hong who was disfellowshipped from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1962. His followers claim that he was the second coming of Jesus. The Torch predicts that members of the sect will continue to proselytize on the Boston College campus for some time.
A January 30 article in the Jamaica Star features a warning by an Adventist pastor that his two churches will not allow funerals for gang members and those killed in confrontation with the security forces. Charles Brevitt presides over the Glendevon and Norwood Seventh-day Adventist churches in the violent St. James parish in northwestern Jamaica. A State of Public Emergency has been declared in St. James due to soaring crime levels.
Jonathan Duffy, the president of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), recently spoke at the United Nations headquarters addressing the supportive role that faith-based organizations can play in helping to address the international refugee crisis. The Fourth Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-based Organizations in International Affairs was held on January 22. The Adventist Review reports that Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist Church, Ganoune Diop, was one of the main organizers for the event. (From APD, the official news source for the Adventist Church in several countries within Western and Southern Europe.)
Willard “Buck” Titus has become the first Adventist mayor of Darby, Montana. The GleanerNow reported that Titus assumed his new office on January 1. Titus also works for the U.S. Forest Service on the road crew. The new mayor has been married to his wife, Marilyn, for 46 years and has two children and four grandchildren.
On January 30, Florida’s Indian River County Hospital District chose a health system to take over Indian River Medical Center. Cleveland Clinic’s bid narrowly beat out that of Altamonte Springs, Florida-based Adventist Health System for the takeover of the county-owned facility. Although they expressed admiration for AHS finances, quality of care and patient focus, IRMC board members were not happy with AHS demands for a new contract with the hospital’s nurses’ union. They also questioned the AHS practice of placing Adventists in hospital leadership roles.