Adventist Church to mark International Religious Freedom Day October 27

Protestant denomination has long promoted freedom of conscience

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and others who support religious liberty will participate in marking Monday, October 27 as International Religious Freedom Day (IRFD).

 John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director, says the Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since 1889. Here, he speaks at the Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, D.C. in April. [ANN file photo]


John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director, says the Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since 1889. Here, he speaks at the Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, D.C. in April. [ANN file photo]

The Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since its founding and continues to highlight the freedom of conscience.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long and great history promoting religious freedom,” said John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Church.

Graz said Adventist leaders in 1889 chartered the National Religious Liberty Association, which today is the International Religious Liberty Association, the world’s largest forum solely dedicated to religious liberty. The Adventist Church remains a key sponsor of the organization.

IRFD is marked on October 27, the day the U.S. Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998. Though it’s American in origin, Church leaders say it’s a time for all governments, leaders and citizens to spotlight the freedom enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 18 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
 
Dwayne Leslie, the Adventist Church’s Legislative Affairs director, said underscoring religious freedom is about “human dignity” and understanding that everyone has an “inherent right to believe or not believe” according to their conscience.  

“As Seventh-day Adventists, we often find ourselves in the religious minority, but we have always recognized the importance to defend this right, not just for us, but also for individuals with whom the Church had little else in common,” Leslie said.

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Adventist Church releases its first women’s study Bible

New edition emphasizes women of faith, offers study materials for personal evangelism

 The newly-released Woman's Bible is a joint project of the Adventist Church's Women's Ministries department and Safeliz Publishing House. It's the Adventist Church's first study Bible specifically designed for women. [photo: Viviene Martinelli]


The newly-released Woman’s Bible is a joint project of the Adventist Church’s Women’s Ministries department and Safeliz Publishing House. It’s the Adventist Church’s first study Bible specifically designed for women. [photo: Viviene Martinelli]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Women’s Ministries department this month released the Woman’s Bible, the first study Bible specifically designed for women by the Adventist Church.

The Woman’s Bible, published by Safeliz Publishing House, is a New King James Version of the Bible that offers more than 100 commentaries, study materials and profiles on major and lesser-known female biblical characters.

All articles were written by Adventist women members, biblical scholars and pastors.

Women’s Ministries Director Heather-Dawn Small said she hopes the new resource will encourage women to read the Bible more often.

“We’re so glad we could offer this resource to encourage our sisters globally in their walk with God, to motivate women who may not read the Bible or read much of it to do so,” Small said. “We wanted to give women tools at their fingertips that can be used in personal Bible study and when giving Bible studies to others.”

Small said the project is one she pursued for four years without success. Safeliz, an Adventist Publishing House in Spain, approached her about a project 18 months ago. The two organizations spent the next five months gathering articles from a variety of female Adventist writers worldwide.

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 Adventist Church Vice President Ella Simmons chairs Annual Council while delegates discuss proposed edits to the Church's 28 Fundamental Beliefs, a few of which appear on the screen. [photo: Ansel Oliver]


Adventist Church Vice President Ella Simmons chairs Annual Council while delegates discuss proposed edits to the Church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs, a few of which appear on the screen. [photo: Ansel Oliver]

Annual Council adopts recommended edits to Fundamental Beliefs

Belief on Creation could be changed to emphasize six ‘literal’ days

A policy body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Monday voted to adjust the language of a key fundamental belief to emphasize that creation was a “recent” event that took place during “six literal days.”

The decision by representatives of the church’s 13 world divisions meeting at the 2014 Annual Council agreed with top Church officials who are growing concerned about what they claim is a misinterpretation of the creation account within the denomination.

The church’s official stance on creation—known as Fundamental Belief No. 6—currently states, in part, “In six days the Lord made ‘the heaven and the earth’ and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week.”

The proposed section of the revised belief, to be sent to delegates of the church’s official governing body for a vote next year, now reads: “In a recent six-day creation the Lord made ‘the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them’ and rested on the seventh day.”

Church leadership insisted on inserting the word “recent” to establish the biblical belief that creation occurred thousands of years ago, as opposed to the conflicting belief of evolutionists who insist earth is at least 4 billion years old. The phrase “six literal days” is significant to church leaders because it conveys that each day of creation lasted one literal day.

Church leaders were concerned that if Seventh-day Adventist members adopt the position that creation was not a six-day literal event, they’ll abandon the denomination’s central belief about the Sabbath being a 24-hour period of rest.

The vote was 179 to 15, with 5 abstentions, to adopt the recommendations of the Fundamental Beliefs Review Committee, which first met in 2011.

The move to clarify the church’s position comes at a time when an increasing number of Adventists, including some in the denomination’s academic institutions, are subscribing to theistic evolution, a view that acknowledges God and science are responsible for creation.

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Harald Wollan, is an associate secretary of the Adventist world church and secretary of the Church Manual Committee. Here he presents suggested revisions of the manual to delegates of Annual Council on Monday, October 13. [photo: Viviene Martinelli]

Harald Wollan, is an associate secretary of the Adventist world church and secretary of the Church Manual Committee. Here he presents suggested revisions of the manual to delegates of Annual Council on Monday, October 13. [photo: Viviene Martinelli]

Suggested revisions to Adventist Church Manual include matters on discipline

Executive Committee sends edits to next July’s GC Session for consideration

Delegates at the 2014 General Conference Annual Council this week agreed to amend some chapters of the Church Manual, including adding new details to further specify the reasons that members can face discipline.

The 13 reasons for which members can be disciplined—such as disloyalty to the church and physical violence—did not change. But the section that deals most closely with extramarital relationships was expanded to include details on specific definitions relating to sexual conduct.

The current wording on that section states that members can be disciplined for “violation of the seventh commandment of the law of God as it relates to the marriage institution, the Christian home and biblical standards of moral conduct.”

The Church Manual revision committee proposed to replace that statement with the following: “Violation of the commandment of the law of God, which reads, ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (Ex. 20:14, Matt. 5:28), as it relates to the marriage institution and the Christian home, biblical standards of moral conduct, and any act of sexual intimacy outside of a marriage relationship and/or non‑consensual acts of sexual conduct within a marriage whether those acts are legal or illegal. Such acts include but are not limited to child sexual abuse, including abuse of the vulnerable. Marriage is defined as a public, lawfully binding, monogamous, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman.”

Delegates overwhelmingly adopted the recommended changes yesterday. The revisions will be forwarded as a proposal to be voted on at the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, United States.

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Adventist minister Sergei Litovchenko was abducted by gunmen on Saturday while conducting a communion service for members.

Adventist minister Sergei Litovchenko was abducted by gunmen on Saturday while conducting a communion service for members.

Adventist pastor in Ukraine released from detention

Litovchenko was held for 20 days

Sergei Litovchenko, pastor of the Horlivka Seventh-day Adventist Church in Continue reading

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