WORLD NEWS & PERSPECTIVES
Hurricane Frances Leaves
Trail of Disaster
ignificant damage to Adventist properties has been reported after Frances, a slow-moving category 2 hurricane with 105-mph winds, hit the Bahamas and southeastern Florida on September 3-6. At least 12 people-nine in Florida, two in the Bahamas, and one in Georgia-died as a result of the storm.
The effects of Hurricane Frances on Adventist members and property were more widespread than the damage caused by Hurricane Charley in August, but not as severe, according to Florida Conference secretary Evan Valencia. "But there is probably more damage we haven't heard about yet," he adds.
Both the English and Spanish churches in Melbourne suffered extensive damage during the storm. The roof was torn off the Melbourne English church, and a wall of the Spanish church was significantly damaged. Trailer homes belonging to Adventists in West Palm Beach were also damaged.
Southeastern Conference Adventist Community Services and Sabbath School director Clarence Wright reported that the roof of the church in West Palm Beach was blown off, and heavy rains caused much damage inside the building. "All our church members were affected in some way," says Wright. "Even our conference office [on September 8] is still without power."
Reports from Punta Gorda, which had already suffered some of the most serious effects from Hurricane Charley, were discouraging. "Some of the repair work that had already been done in Punta Gorda was undone by Frances," says Valencia.
Valencia rode out the most recent storm in his home, located in a suburb of Orlando. "The strong winds and rain were relentless, especially Saturday night" he says. "Wind gusts of 60-70 mph went through here at times."
Florida Disaster Response Coordinator David Canther reported that a relief and distribution center has been set up in the Fort Pierce church, located only a few miles from Port St. Lucie, one of the hardest hit areas in Florida. An average of 1,100 meals-lunches and suppers-are being served every day, and two semi-truckloads of supplies have been brought in and distributed. According to Canther, residents have waited up to two hours in line for supplies. Approximately 70 percent of residents in the area were still without power on September 9. The free meals were advertised on local radio stations. The National Public Radio affiliate station said that the Adventists, once again, had one of the strongest presence in relief efforts, reports Canther.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed or flooded and thousands left without electricity and water in the Bahamas as a result of Frances, according to Bahamas Conference president Leonard Johnson. Government officials are still assessing the damages.
"The difference between this hurricane and any other storm is that never before had all the islands of the Bahamas been affected [in] national proportion and consequences," says Johnson, who was on the Bahamas prime minister Perry Christie's damage-assessment team that toured several islands on Sunday, September 5. "It was a touching experience to see the widespread devastation of Hurricane Frances. The most devastated southeast island was San Salvador, where some people lost their entire homes, rooftops were ripped off, churches were affected, and flooding was everywhere," Johnson adds.
Adventists in Fort Pierce had to deal with heavy rains and flooding caused by the storm.
Grand Bahama, located on the northern part of the west end of the islands, was hit the hardest. "Homes were damaged beyond repair and power has not been completely restored, as miles and miles of power lines were down," Johnson says. The airport in Freeport, Grand Bahama, also suffered significant damage.
Johnson met with other Adventist leaders and pastors in Nassau to coordinate local response efforts in the community. Pathfinders, community services personnel, and other Adventist volunteers participated in the church's initial response approach in Nassau to help clean up homes, offer counseling, and restore a sense of hope in the community. Johnson says the church will partner with the National Emergency Management Agency of the Bahamas to distribute water and food to the affected church members and communities, and that the islands' Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office is organizing to coordinate funds to aid victims in the coming days.
"We are committed to bringing restoration, relief, and hope to the people of the Bahamas," says Johnson, who is scheduled to travel with church leaders to visit members in Cat Island, Eleuthera, and Exuma by the end of this week.
There are more than 12,000 Seventh-day Adventists worshiping in 41 churches throughout the Bahamas Conference and the North Bahamas Mission. --IAD/AR
For updated information about the crisis situations in Florida and the Bahamas, go to www.adventist-fl.com or www.bahamasconference.org. To help ADRA with hurricane relief, go to www.adra.org.
Adventists in Baghdad Meet for
Worship Services Amid Much Unrest
"In spite of the recent bombing of several Christian churches in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Adventist believers met on Sabbath [August 14] for worship," says Baghdad Adventist church pastor Oweda Wahbe. The church was reopened after being closed for one Sabbath, but many precautions are being taken. Vehicle barriers have been set up near the church, and additional security is in place.
Earlier that same week, a main road near the Adventist church was closed off because police discovered a box of dynamite attached to a fuel tanker parked in front of a nearby hotel. The tanker was carrying 36,000 liters (close to 10,000 gallons) of gasoline. "If the dynamite had been detonated causing the fuel to explode, the whole area around the church would have been destroyed," says Middle East Union president Michael Porter. "Thankfully, the threat was discovered in time."
"We can only thank God for His protection," says Basim Fargo, secretary-treasurer for the Adventist church in Iraq. "Life remains difficult in Iraq, with electricity off more than it is on. In the extreme heat of summer, just surviving is difficult."
"In spite of everything," adds Fargo, "God's work continues as members seek ways to alleviate suffering all around them." --Middle East Union/AR
RUSSIA: Adventist Church Burns in
Midnight Blaze; Investigation Continues
An investigation is continuing into the middle-of-the-night August 20 blaze that destroyed an Adventist church in the city of Rostov-on-Don in the Northern Caucasus region.
The fire started about midnight, and firefighters arrived at the scene within ten minutes after being called. Efforts to contain the blaze, however, took more than four hours and were not totally successful. After pronouncing the fire "liquidated," the roof reignited about four hours later, and firefighters returned to again put out the blaze.
According to local Adventist church officials, the entire wooden roof was destroyed, and the metal parts of the roof, the decking, and the heating system all received major damage. All the furniture was destroyed, and the audio equipment was burned. A large number of windows were also damaged. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
--Adventist News Network/AR
TED Staff Member Interviewed
for Albanian TV Documentary
Trans-European Division (TED) Publishing director John Arthur participated in a program for Albanian television featuring the connection between St. Albans and Albania. Arthur was filmed walking outside the division headquarters building, and then interviewed in his office.
"I related how ADRA became the first 'western' aid agency to enter Albania in April 1991 following almost 50 years of hard-line Communism, and how right from the start the people of St. Albans became involved," says Arthur. He then outlined ADRA's humanitarian intervention, not only in Albania but also in Kosovo.
When asked whether he still had any links with Albania, Arthur explained his connection with the production of a new range of books in the Albanian language, and discussed the Adventist church's new lifestyle magazine Editione Adventist.
Inhabitants of Albania and the city of St. Albans are both called Albanians, and for the past 13 years it has been a case of Albanians helping Albanians. The television program titled The Albanian Connection will be broadcast on both TVSH (the Albanian national terrestrial service) and a satellite channel.
The first Northern Asia-Pacific Division Women Pastors and Elders Convention was held May 31 to June 2 in Beijing, China. The 53 attendees were from the division office, Japan Union Conference, Chinese Union Mission, and Korean Union Conference.
Kermit Netteburg, who has served as the North American Division assistant to the president for communication for eight years, has accepted a call to be the administrative pastor for the Sligo Adventist church in Takoma Park, Maryland. Netteburg has provided counsel and leadership to all areas of communication work in the division, including Adventist Communication Network, Adventist Radio Broadcasters Association, Media Relations, and the Adventist Media Center. Netteburg's official transfer date to Sligo church will be October 15.
Bradford C. Newton is the new president of the Nevada-Utah Conference. Newton was associate director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty and director of Government Affairs for the Pacific Union Conference for five years before taking up his new responsibilities on July 1. The conference's former president, Larry Moore, accepted a call to pastor the Burleson Adventist church in Texas.
Steven Gallimore is the new president of LifeTalk Radio, a 24-hour radio ministry of the North American Division. Gallimore served as president of the New York Conference for four years before taking up his new responsibilities on July 15. He and his family have moved to the Collegedale, Tennessee, community, where LifeTalk plans to relocate its headquarters from Vonore, Tennessee, sometime near the end of the year. LifeTalk broadcasts on 35 U.S. stations, and its Web site-www.lifetalk.net-has an active listening audience in 170 countries.
Stanley Rouse, New York Conference secretary and superintendent of schools for two years, has been elected president of the conference. Before going to New York, Rouse was superintendent of schools for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. He follows Steven Gallimore, who accepted a call to become the president of LifeTalk Radio.