News Briefs for May 31, 2019

News reports from Australia, Germany, Harvard University, the Berlin-Central German Conference, the Columbia Union Conference and Berkeley, California.

Adventist Media was acknowledged at the 2019 Christian Media & Arts Australia (CMAA) conference, winning two Excellence in Media Awards. Maryellen Fairfax won the Emerging Talent category, beating four other finalists from prominent media institutions. She is a panelist on Mums At The Table and also one of the hosts of I Am, both productions of the Adventist Media Centre. I Am, a 13-part series on discovering and developing a relationship with Jesus, also won the Compelling Content in Film/Television/Video category.

ADRA Germany opened its seventh thrift store in Diepholz on 26 May. Stores are also operating in Bergisch Gladbach, Köthen, Lüdenscheid, Nuremberg, Stendal and Weiterstadt. Each has four to six employees plus volunteer help. The stores sell donated, well-preserved second-hand items to help fund ADRA projects, and they also operate online book sales. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is an international non-governmental organization supported by the Adventist denomination. ADRA Germany was founded in 1987.

Dr. David R. Williams, an Adventist on the faculty of Harvard University, has been elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He has an endowed professorship and serves as chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health. He is also a professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology. The university’s medical school website states that he is “an internationally recognized social scientist focused on social influences on health.” Williams is the first Adventist to serve on the NAS. Williams completed college at the University of the Southern Caribbean, an Adventist institution in Trinidad and Tobago and earned master’s degrees in divinity and public health at Andrews University and Loma Linda University. His PhD in sociology was earned at the University of Michigan.

During its constituency session earlier this week, the denomination’s Berlin-Central German Conference voted to become full members of the inter-denominational Christian councils in its territory instead of maintaining guest participation as it has for many years. This applies to the regional associations of Christian churches in the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, as well as the Association of Christian Churches (ACK) and the Berlin-Brandenburg unit of the World Council of Churches. A pastor at the meeting told Adventist Today that a resolution with “a critical response to the Unity Oversight Committee document from last year’s GC (General Conference) annual council” was also on the agenda. “Both points were passed with overwhelming majority,” he reported. There are 146 Adventist congregations in the local conference that includes the five states.

The leaders of the Columbia Union Conference in the United States held a luncheon to affirm and express appreciation to the women clergy who serve in its territory on May 16 at the union office. About 40 attendees included 20 women pastors, several conference presidents and ministerial directors, as well as the union conference officers. The group discussed the outcome and implications of the vote at the 2018 GC Annual Council threatening to punish union conferences that ordain women pastors, how women pastors are being treated at their home churches and how the union can help. “We wanted to know how it’s going for them and how we could support their ministry,” said Celeste Ryan Blyden, the union conference vice president for strategic communication, who chaired the event. “And we assured them that the vote in Battle Creek [at Annual Council] in no way changed their status as pastors and ministry leaders.”

A Women’s Suitcase Clinic for the neighborhood takes place every Monday evening in Berkeley, California, at LIFE Adventist Church. Suitcase Clinic is a student volunteer organization from the nearby University of California campus that locates people in need throughout the city and provides three different clinics to minister to the health and emotional needs of the homeless. This weekly ministry of compassion provides a warm meal, foot washing, counseling and help with clothes and basic human needs. It is coordinated by Anna Farooqi and Natalia Garban. A quick video report can be seen here: