| WORLD REPORT
Creative Movie Creates Interest in Creation
Adventist artist’s work gains wide exposure, response
Early in 2010 a movie screening in the heart of Europe drew thousands of curious viewers, resulting in plenty of favorable comment. Though that might not seem unusual, the film’s subject matter certainly was far removed from the bulk of today’s cinema: the film involved was a celebration of the biblical account of Creation, and it’s the product of filmmaker Henry Stober, a Seventh-day Adventist.
“To be an Adventist is a privilege, and the Sabbath message is really the [icing] on the cake,” Stober said. “To experience the reaction of people, to speak to them and to see the change with my own eyes is simply indescribable. . . . Since the first showings we have received many requests from other countries. I realize that technically speaking it would be simple to get presenters in other languages and be able to show the film practically worldwide.”
Screening sites were set up in several German and Austrian cities during a two-week period in January. Hundreds of people had to be turned away because of the overcrowded venues. For many there was standing room only at the showing of the 75-minute-long, high-definition movie, entitled Creation—The Earth Is a Witness, projected on 12 x 6 meter (approximately 39 by 18 foot) panoramic screens.
The film’s history began in 2006 as German Adventist photographer Stober felt the call to produce a multimedia event focusing upon the beauty of Creation and present it in a way compelling enough to make audiences think about the creation/evolution question.
The movie is a skillfully made, highly entertaining mix of scientific evidence for creation, breathtaking nature scenes, and stunningly beautiful instrumental music, written by Adventist composer Dominic Buchner. For many viewers this was their first exposure to creationism and the God of Creation. Several hundred have signed up for further Bible study.
Those wishing to sample some of the beautiful shots and film sequences, culled from more than 100 hours of HD film material and hundreds of thousands of high quality digital photographs, can visit www.dieSchoepfung.eu.
Via that Web site, several people offered comments—albeit anonymously—on the project. One wrote, “Thank you very, very much for the movie. My wife, daughter, and several of my colleagues, as well as their wives, watched it with us yesterday. I now have a good opportunity to speak to them about my faith. We were all thrilled by the movie (the Lord is working—after all, He is the Creator).”
Another wrote, “Hi, I saw the film in Schlossberg hall in Starnberg and want to thank you very much for letting yourselves be used by the Holy Spirit to produce such a masterpiece.”
—Reported by Sigrun Schumacher, ASI Europe newsletter editor; translated and edited by Chantal J. Klingbeil and AW Staff.
Adventist Church Plans Expanded Partnership With World Health Organization
Seventh-day Adventist Church officials voted April 6 to accept a proposal from the World Health Organization (WHO) that seeks the denomination’s partnership with the United Nations’ agency in a program to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
The approval paves the way for expanding the church’s fledgling alliance with the WHO in helping to implement public health initiatives.
Church administrative and health leaders first explored a collaboration with the WHO last summer during a health conference in Geneva. In October they released a statement positioning the denomination to better improve global health through partnerships with allied health organizations such as the WHO.
The WHO proposal discussed during Spring Meetings at world church headquarters requests that selected Adventist-run schools of nursing that teach midwifery or obstetrics serve as “laboratories of change.” There, the WHO, Health Ministries, and church-run Loma Linda University School of Nursing in Loma Linda, California, will concentrate resources to graduate highly skilled birth attendants, said Allan Handysides, director of the world church’s Department of Health Ministries.
An increase in birth attendants is expected to curb the number of maternal deaths per births in many African and Asian countries, which stands at 600 per 100,000, compared to 16 per 100,000 in Western countries, Handysides said. The ratio represents an estimated 3 million preventable maternal deaths per year, he said.
“I want to stress to you that through this partnership the image and reputation of the Adventist Church may be held up to the scrutiny of the WHO,” Handysides told the delegates. He urged them not only to approve the proposal, but also to commit to “100 percent participation” and “keen oversight” by all levels of church administration in implementing the project, particularly in church regions where the effort is concentrated.
Patricia Jones, associate health ministries director for nursing, reiterated Handysides’ call for full involvement. Jones, also a professor of nursing at the Loma Linda University School of Nursing, said that if problems in implementation arise, the goal of the partnership—fewer infant and maternal deaths—would suffer most.
Delegates seemed largely in favor of the partnership, one calling it a “vote of confidence” in the work of the church’s Health Ministries Department. However, they asked that potential downsides to the partnership be fully analyzed before the church moves forward.
“I am reluctant to enter this partnership—even though the benefits may be tremendous—without a thorough plan to avoid any risks that may arise,” said Paul Ratsara, president of the church’s Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
While potential risks cannot be eliminated, “thorough work has and will yet be done” to “minimize” them, said Peter Landless, associate Health Ministries director. Landless called for a “careful, measured pace” as the church proceeds with the partnership, which, he added, “may serve as a very needed injection of new life into some of our health institutions.”
The partnership is expected to upgrade the quality of instruction and increase the number of instructors at the selected nursing schools. Also anticipated is a spike in enrollment because of students contracted by the government to return to their rural communities where infant and maternal mortality is the highest, Handysides said.
Developing an extensive network of such “laboratories of change” is expected to cost an estimated $5 million, he said.
“We were at first apprehensive about this because the cost of such a project would certainly be beyond our capabilities,” Handysides said. However, the WHO has since said they are “very willing” to secure funding for the initiative, he added.
The Adventist Church “should embrace this opportunity to have a public expression of our healing and serving values as a global organization,” said Lowell Cooper, a world church vice president and Loma Linda University’s board chair.
—Reported by Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network.
Jamaica to Become Union Conference
Other management restructures in Latin America accommodate church growth
Four administrative restructuring moves by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in and around Central America highlight the church’s membership growth in the region, home to nearly 3.3 million members.
The action, approved April 7, 2010, by the world church’s Executive Committee, creates new management regions in the Caribbean, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela. Church leaders said the adjustments reflect the growth and maturity of the church in those regions.
West Indies Union Conference. Jamaica has nearly 250,000 members and is home to one of the highest ratios of Adventist Church members to population. Nearly 1 out of 11 people in Jamaica is a member of the Adventist Church, one of the largest denominations on the island.The Adventist Church in the island nation of Jamaica will become its own Jamaica Union Conference, thereby splitting the current
The remaining areas of the former West Indies Union—Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and the Turks & Caicos Islands—will become part of a newly formed Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission, with about 25,000 members.
A union is made up of several local administrative fields. A union with the “conference” designation is financially self-supporting, while a union with a “mission” status is still reliant on its parent management structure, a “division,” for support and oversight.
The committee action also doubles the administrative structure for Colombia. Adventist churches in the South American nation are currently managed by one union conference for some 265,000 members. The newly created North Colombian Conference and South Colombian Union Mission will soon share these duties.
Also, a newly formed East Venezuela Union Mission will be added, replacing an eastern section of the Venezuela-Antilles Union Mission, which now serves 210,000 members.
In addition, the countries of Honduras and El Salvador, now operated by the Mid-Central American Union Mission, will each have their own union missions. Honduras currently has about 230,000 members, while El Salvador has about 195,000.
The move affecting Honduras and El Salvador takes effect January 1, 2012. The other changes will go into effect following this summer’s Adventist Church fifty-ninth General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
“We want to make these changes in recognition of the development of the mission of the church in those territories,” said Agustin Galicia, an associate secretary of the Adventist world church.
“Take Venezuela, they had five local fields when they reorganized the territory in 1989,” Galicia said. “Now there are 11.”
Once the changes are implemented, the church’s Inter-American Division will comprise of 21 unions, the most of any of the church’s 13 world divisions.
—Reported by Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network.
ALBANIA: Adventist Pastors Bring Health and Hope
A Seventh-day Adventist pastor is bringing health and hope to people in what once was Europe’s poorest nation, Albania. The retired minister, John Arthur of England, has recently made his fifty-first visit to the nation, its capital, Tirana, and rural areas.
“The capital city, Tirana, is like a mini Dubai, with buildings shooting up at a phenomenal rate,” Arthur reported. “Out in the rural villages, however, the situation is still the same. It’s like moving backwards into the Victorian era.”
Arthur continues, “This is where ADRA is making its mark. Forty school buildings and health clinics have been reconstructed during the past 10 years, mainly under the leadership of Lamar Phillips, the current national director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Volunteers from many countries have also played an important role in this modernization program.”
A health center on ADRA’s compound in Kombinat—one of the more deprived areas of Tirana—was opened by Liri Berisha, director of the Albanian Children’s Foundation and wife of the prime minister. This event was covered in the main news bulletin of TOP Channel—Albania’s most popular TV station.
An estimated 120 Seventh-day Adventist Church members and friends from all parts of the country assembled for an ADRA Rally at the central church on March 13. Retired BBC TV journalist Bill Hamilton gave an inspiring talk entitled “Love of God,” based on Romans 8:28. Arthur presented lectures entitled “Celebrating Albania’s Progress” and “An Even Better Day Is Coming.”
The purpose of the visit was to try to resolve some issues relating to ADRA’s 0.49 hectare site in Tirana, which was made available to the agency on a 99-year lease in 1993. Several key players were contacted, including the prime minister, Sali Berisha. A decision will be made by the Council of Ministers in due course.
—Reported by AW Staff with information from John Arthur.