Posts Tagged With: Seventh-day Adventist Church

Day Of Prayer Oct 11 For Ebola Victims

West Africa confronting rapidly expanding Ebola epidemic

September 26, 2014 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | ANN staff

Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson issued the following statement today:

On behalf of the leadership and membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its 13 world divisions, and indeed the more than 18 million members in 215 countries, I would like to express my deep concern for the people in West Africa who are living under the threat of the Ebola virus—particularly in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria.

I am urgently imploring all Seventh-day Adventists around this globe to make Sabbath, October 11, 2014 a special Day of Prayer for our brothers and sisters in West Africa and for the entire population in that region as they face this virtually unprecedented tragedy. Let us pray that God will put a halt to the spread of this virulent virus.

Having had the wonderful privilege of living and serving in West Africa with my wife and family for nine years, our hearts go out to the families of the more than 2,800 people who have already died from the epidemic. After news from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which projects that by January cases could number between 550,000 to as high as 1.4 million, coupled with a 71 percent fatality rate according to the World Health Organization, we are devastated by the potential of this outbreak to destroy lives.

I especially want the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide and specifically the church members of the West-Central Africa Division to know that we who serve at the Church headquarters are praying for you, and we are joined by a global family of hope in God’s power to save.

There are many initiatives that are taking place on the part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its entities to assist in this extremely challenging crisis in West Africa. You will see or hear about these through ANN, Adventist Review, Adventist World, Hope Channel, Adventist World Radio and elsewhere.

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency hosted a prayer event in the Atrium of the General Conference building and were joined by many others via Google Hangout.

On October 1, 2014, the General Conference Ministerial Association will launch a global prayer campaign for those impacted by the Ebola virus. People around the world are expressing their support via social media through the hashtag #UnitedinPrayer.

On October 11, during 2014 Annual Council, there will be a live connection between the many world leaders who will meet at the General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Pastor James Golay, the president of the West African Union in Monrovia, Liberia. He will be staying in Liberia with our church members to encourage and support them during this very traumatic time instead of attending the Annual Council but will be connected electronically with the meetings. He will share with the world leadership a first-hand report about the critical situation in his territory of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia where we have 33,000 Seventh-day Adventists. After the report from Pastor Golay there will be a special prayer emphasis for those living facing this devastating situation.

Please remember the special Day of Prayer on Sabbath, October 11, 2014, for West Africa as the population confronts the rapidly expanding Ebola challenge.

In all of this we want those in West Africa to know that, not only during the Sabbath prayer emphasis, but day-by-day, hour-by-hour, the people affected by this crisis will be lifted up in prayer to our Creator, Savior and Master Physician. Let us earnestly pray for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, which will point people to Christ’s soon coming when illness, diseases, the Ebola virus, fear and death will be conquered through God’s almighty power to save for eternity. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

With kind Christian regards and sincerely yours,

Ted N. C. Wilson

President

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Months after the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history began ravaging West African countries, a man who flew from Liberia to Dallas became the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States.

Health officials stressed that they are confident they can control this situation and keep the virus from spreading in the U.S.

“We’re stopping it in its tracks in this country,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared during a news conference Tuesday afternoon September 30, 2014.

The man who is infected, who was not identified, left Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the U.S. the following day to visit family members. Health officials are working to identify everyone who may have been exposed to this man. Frieden said this covered just a “handful” of people, a group that will be watched for three weeks to see if any symptoms emerge.

“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country,” Frieden said. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”

There were more than 6,500 reported cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as of Tuesday, and the crisis has been blamed for more than 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Ebola was first identified in 1976, and the current outbreak in West Africa is considered the largest and most complex in the history of the virus, with more cases and deaths than every other outbreak combined.

Until now, the only known cases of Ebola in the U.S. involved American doctors and aid workers who were infected and returned to the country for treatment. One of them, Richard Sacra, was discharged last week from a Nebraska hospital. Days later, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda admitted an American physician who was exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. There were reports of possible Ebola patients in New York, California, New Mexico and Miami, but all of them tested negative for the virus.

The unidentified person with Ebola is being treated in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, according to Edward Goodman, the hospital’s epidemiologist.

People who traveled on the same plane as this man are not in danger because he had his temperature checked before the flight and was not symptomatic at the time, Frieden said. Ebola is only contagious if the person has symptoms, and can be spread through bodily fluids or infected animals but not through the air.

“There is zero risk of transmission on the flight,” Frieden said.

Still, the fact that the disease has been confirmed on American soil immediately sparked fears in the U.S., turning a public health crisis from a faraway news story to something that makes people reach for Purell and facemasks. But experts said it was impossible to imagine that Ebola, which a CDC estimate projects could infect up to half a million people by January, would remain completely outside the country’s borders.

“It was inevitable once the outbreak exploded,” said Thomas Geisbert, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who has researched the Ebola virus for decades. “Unless you were going to shut down to shut down airports and keep people from leaving [West Africa], it’s hard to stop somebody from getting on a plane.”

But Geisbert quickly underscored how unlikely the virus is to spread in the United States. For starters, he said, officials placed the sick man in quarantine quickly in order to isolate him from potentially infecting others. In addition, health workers are already contacting and monitoring any other people he might have had contact with in recent days.

“The system that was put in place worked the way it was supposed to work,” Geisbert said.

That doesn’t guarantee that no one else will get infected, because the sick person could have transmitted the disease to someone else before being isolated. But that approach almost certainly ensures that the United States will quickly contain the disease.

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is centered in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, though there is a separate outbreak in Congo. Unlike in West Africa, where the affected countries have fragile or barely existent health care systems, where people are being turned away from treatment centers, where family members are caring directly with those sick and dying from Ebola, the U.S. is far more equipped to isolate anyone with the virus and provide the highest level of care.

For months, the CDC has been conducting briefings for hospitals and clinicians about the proper protocol for diagnosing patients suspected of having the virus, as well as the kinds of infection control measures to manage hospitalized patients known or suspected of having the disease. Many procedures involve the same types of infection control that major hospitals are already supposed to have in place.

Early recognition is a critical element of infection control. Symptoms include fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and contact within 21 days before onset of symptoms with the blood or other bodily fluids or human remains of someone known or suspected of having the disease or travel to an area where transmission is active.

The CDC also has scheduled more training for U.S. workers who either plan on volunteering in West Africa or want to be prepared in the event that cases surface at their own hospitals.

President Obama spoke with Frieden on Tuesday afternoon regarding the way the patient is being isolated and the efforts to scour the man’s contacts to seek out any potential other cases, the White House said.

Frieden said during the news conference that the man who is infected did not develop symptoms until about four days after arriving in the country. This man sought medical treatment on Friday, two days after symptoms developed, but was evaluated and released. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday before being placed into isolation. Frieden, who would not say if the man was a U.S. citizen, said the man is not believed to have been working as part of the response to the Ebola outbreak.

David Lakey, head of the Texas Department of Health Services, said the state’s laboratory in Austin, Tex., received a blood sample from the patient on Tuesday morning and confirmed the presence of Ebola several hours later. This laboratory was certified to do Ebola testing last month.

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Pastor Abducted During Worship Service

Church leaders call for prayer while seeking to learn Litovchenko’s whereabouts

September 30, 2014 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Andrew McChesney/Adventist Review

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor is missing after being abducted by gunmen during a communion service last Sabbath at a church in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, local church leaders said.

Unidentified men carrying machine guns and wearing camouflage burst into the church in the city of Horlivka on September 27 and seized Pastor Sergei Litovchenko, the Ukrainian Union Conference said.

“They interrupted the worship service and forced the worshipers to disperse,” it said in a statement. “They ordered Pastor Sergei Litovchenko to close the church, forced him into a car, and drove away in an unknown direction.”

The incident occurred as the pastor was leading the congregation in a communion service in the small, rectangular church located at 1 Ulitsa Horlovskoi Divizii. Adventist churches around the world commemorated Jesus’ Last Supper on September 27 as is customary on the last Sabbath of each quarter.

The Horlivka gunmen justified their actions by saying that “this is Orthodox land and there is no place for various sects here,” the conference statement said.

They refused to say who they were and what right that had to disrupt the church’s activities, replying bluntly to church members’ questions, “It’s none of your business.”

The Ukrainian Union Conference was trying to establish the whereabouts of the pastor.

“Where he is and what has happened to him is unknown,” said Vassily Nichik, director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the West Russian Union Conference, which borders eastern Ukraine.

“Please pray for him,” he said on his Facebook page.

The abduction is a troubling development for the Adventist Church in eastern Ukraine, where clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian government forces have killed more than 3,500 people since April. Separatists, who support the Orthodox faith and have spoken critically of Protestantism as a sect, have detained several church members in the past but always released them quickly.

No Seventh-day Adventists have been injured or killed in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict de-escalated into an uneasy ceasefire on September 5. Only one church building has suffered major damage.

John Graz, director of the Adventist world church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, expressed deep concern over the kidnapping and said he was puzzled over why anyone would target the pastor.

“Our church is officially recognized in Russia and Ukraine, and we expect our members and pastors to be respected by the authorities on the territory of eastern Ukraine,” Graz said Monday. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not involved in politics, and we don’t understand why it should be attacked.”

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War Against Spanish Christian Churches Heats Up

 

 

Adventists Sue Over Church “Registration”

Measure mocks First Amendment, attorney says.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has filed a lawsuit against the city of Las Cruces in the U.S. state of New Mexico over an ordinance church lawyers say violates religious expression and unfairly targets pastor-led faith groups, especially Latino churches.

 

Earlier this year, city officials threatened to take legal action if the Las Cruces Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church failed to comply with the requirements of the business registration ordinance.

 

Las Cruces Ordinance No. 16-131 defines a business as “any profession, trade or occupation and all and every kind of calling,” including the work of pastors, priests, rabbis, bishops, imams, and other religious leaders.

 

The ordinance ostensibly requires all pastor-led churches within city limits to register with the city, pay a registration fee, and pass a discretionary review process before gaining approval to conduct worship services or provide pastoral care. Faith groups that are lay-led rather than clergy-led are not subject to the requirements, lawyers said.

 

 

CHURCH REGISTRATION OPPOSED:  The Seventh-day Adventist Church has sued the city of Las Cruses, New Mexico, over an ordinance that requires pastor-led churches to register and pay fees. Church lawyers say the ordinance violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Texico Conference headquarters, shown here, is located in Corrales, New Mexico. [PHOTO: Sue Hinkle]

According to a complaint filed by the church in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico, there is no time frame for an approval and no avenue for appeal if the city denies an application.

 

“I’ve never seen anything like this. It blatantly goes against the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Todd McFarland, an associate general counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist world church.

 

Further troubling church lawyers, the ordinance requires separate registrations for each location that business is conducted. Lawyers said this stipulation could require pastors to obtain special permission before visiting sick members, providing off-site counseling, or conducting evangelism.

 

“Such religious speech and activities frequently occur in private homes, public meeting places, hospitals, and funeral homes as a result of regularly occurring life events with very little if any advance notice,” the complaint stated. “It is impossible for an applicant subject to the ordinance to provide accurate information because many pastoral activities are a response to unpredictable events.”

 

Church lawyers also said the ordinance is “impermissibly vague” because it fails to specify what actions fall under the definition of “calling,” thus requiring separate advance approval.

 

A list of exemptions to the requirements, including certain athletic officials and artists, “favor nonreligious speech over religious speech,” the complaint stated, noting that the ordinance “overturns” protections provided by Article II, section 11, of the New Mexico Constitution.

 

According to the complaint, “these protections were intended to provide religious speech with more, not less, protection than speech related to a ball game or a portrait of a family pet or other ‘art’ product.”

 

Meanwhile, Las Cruces city officials maintain that the ordinance is meant to benefit citizens.

 

“The City of Las Cruces believes that its requirements to have businesses, including churches, within city limits have a business license meets the city’s obligations to provide its citizens with fire and police protection and comply with the Constitution,” William Babington, Jr., deputy city attorney for Las Cruces, said by e-mail.

 

“The city trusts that the courts will agree with its position,” Babington added.

 

There are more than 100 churches within Las Cruces city limits, but the ordinance, Adventist lawyers said, has been applied to only a small percentage of these churches and, according to the complaint, “disparately applied to single out Hispanic and Latino churches.”

 

In June the Las Cruces Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church was first notified that it had seven days to comply with the requirements or face “court action,” according to a letter from the city’s Codes Enforcement Department. However, the Las Cruces Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, a majority non-Latino congregation, received no such notice. (The “white” or Anglo church was exempted.)

 

“This problem came to us; we didn’t go looking for it,” said McFarland, who is representing the Las Cruces Spanish Adventist Church and the Texico Conference.

The U.S. District Court of New Mexico has not yet set a trial date.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Texico Conference oversees church operations in west Texas and New Mexico, where it maintains 80 churches and supports a membership of 12,000.

(BY ELIZABETH LECHLEITNER, Adventist News Network)

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