WORLD NEWS & PERSPECTIVES
Hurricane Charley Damages 8 Adventist Churches
reliminary reports from the Florida Conference indicate that eight Adventist churches were damaged as a result of Hurricane Charley. Though several churches suffered minor damages, the Adventist Churches in Punta Gorda and Arcadia had extensive damages, reported conference secretary Evan Valencia on August 15.
Valencia says that many church members have had damaged homes but as of press time no loss of life has been reported. The conference will be setting up warehouses in Tampa and Port Charlotte for staging and distribution of supplies. The conference emergency trailer has also been activated and community service leaders actively recruiting volunteers.
Among the first responders to the disaster was the Forrest Lake Pathfinder club which started helping victims as early as Sabbath August 14, Valencia says. Other clubs that are just returning from the Adventist Church's Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, will soon be mobilized.
As of press time the Review staff was unable to reach officials at Southeastern Conference, headquartered in Mt. Dora, Florida. However, we will update this breaking story as more information becomes available.
IRAQ: Christian Churches Bombed;
Adventists Spared But on High Alert
No Adventist churches were damaged during recent bomb attacks on Christian churches in Iraq. Church leaders, however, remain on high alert. Because of an increase in threats, Adventist worship services for August 7 were canceled, and members worshiped in homes.
According to Middle East Union president Michael Porter, power supplies in Baghdad are back to pre-war levels. Electricity is on for only eight hours out of every 24. In a place where temperatures can reach well above 50-degrees Celsius (over 130-degrees Fahrenheit), living without air conditioning or fans is nearly unbearable.
"In spite of the difficulties, our members' faith is still strong," says Porter. "They continue to pray; they continue to do what they can for those around them; and they continue with plans for opening a health care center as part of the new Baghdad church addition presently under construction." --Middle East Union/AR
SUDAN: Membership Reaches 6,000
Membership in the South Sudan Field has surpassed 6,000.
"In this troubled part of the world," says Middle East Union secretary-treasurer Homer Trecartin, "Global Mission pioneers and pastors regularly risk their lives to bring the good news of the gospel to people. Many individuals skip meals [so they can] afford a Bible. District leaders are thankful if they have a bicycle to ride over the almost nonexistent roads so they can visit more members and churches. If a family is opposed to one member's decision to accept Jesus and join the church, it is quite easy for [that new member] just to turn up missing one night and never be heard from again. Believers often have to meet under a tree or try to reassemble after fleeing to a new area. In this [region], however, membership continues to climb. Every year hundreds are accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, in spite of what that decision will cost them." --MEU Musings/AR
Adventist Deaf Ministries Seeks New Ways
to Reach Deaf People
Adventist Deaf Ministries (ADM) board members and other deaf people met with church leaders at the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 12 and 13 to discuss the obstacles that deaf people face within the church and to explore how the church can minister to deaf members.
"It's very hard to evangelize deaf people," says ADM executive director Jim Hovey. "Deaf people are responsive to the gospel message, but we need to find a different way to do it."
According to Hovey, in 1997 the Adventist Church in North America had 656 deaf members; that number has now dropped to 330.
Many churches do not have interpreters. "When churches rely on people who can barely converse in sign language, and then expect them to translate complex theological concepts, a lot gets lost in the process, and deaf people can miss a spiritual blessing when they can't benefit from the service," says Hovey.
According to Hovey, another reason for the declining membership is "our church services are increasingly music-oriented. Though some deaf people [can] enjoy a limited amount of music with the right acoustics, for many it is of limited interest and often painfully interpreted. Very few sign language interpreters have the gift of interpreting music into a visual art form."
Six million deaf people reside in the United States and about 50,000 in Canada, with one Adventist deaf member for every 18,181 deaf people.
ADM offers Bible studies for deaf people. For more information, go to www.deafbibleschool.com. --Adventist News Network/AR
Faith and Science Conference to Convene in Denver
Adventist scientists, theologians, and administrators are gathering August 20-26 in Denver, Colorado, for the final phase of a special three-year conversation about issues of faith and science. This year’s meeting is the second international conference to bring together representatives of the three groups. Regional meetings were held at several international sites in 2003.
The International Faith and Science Conference was designed by the General Conference (GC) Executive Committee to explore the theological and scientific implications of various views of Genesis 1-11. The Denver gathering will draw 45 administrators, 50 science scholars, and 35 theologians, including Adventist Review senior editor William G. Johnsson. A report of the Denver conference will be submitted to GC president Jan Paulsen.
“An important benefit of this process has been examining the role of scholarship in a faith community,” says Lowell Cooper, GC vice president and organizing committee chair. “These conversations heighten our awareness of the reasons behind our biblical beliefs and of the challenges Adventists face in communicating that faith to a scientific world.”
A six-day camporee attended by almost 800 Pathfinders and leaders was held in Crawfordsburn, Northern Ireland, in July. By the end of the event, about 50 Pathfinders made decisions to commit their lives to Christ and prepare for baptism. --BUC News/AR