GC President Responds to Muslim Caricature Controversy

ollowing an increase in global tension surrounding the publication-in newspapers in Denmark and other European countries-of caricatures that some Muslims worldwide have found insulting, Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, issued a call for the responsible use of the right of free expression.

"It is unfortunate that the publication of freely expressed opinions . . . has inflamed relations among people," Paulsen said in a statement released at the Adventist world headquarters.

"As Seventh-day Adventists we support and encourage the responsible use of the right of free expression," he added. "Inherent in that responsibility is also being mindful of not insulting others and causing injury to their beliefs and practices. Opinions can be shared without the color of disrespect, and debate can take place but without offending the beliefs of others."

Drawing on many years of experience in intercultural ministry in Africa and around the world, Paulsen noted the importance of valuing diversity and of building harmonious communities, while at the same time acknowledging the importance of free speech.

"My work as a Seventh-day Adventist leader has taken me to many nations. I witness the value of diversity and the fact that Christians build the community alongside adherents of many other religions and worldviews," he said. "And I recommend that living by the principle of the Golden Rule, which asks us to do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us, would inspire us to live in harmony with all people, be free in expressing our views, but also maintaining courtesy and respect to all."

More than 25 million people worship weekly in Seventh-day Adventist congregations in 203 countries and territories around the world.                                                                           --Adventist News Network.

Youth Congress Attendees Recruit
Hundreds of Bible Study Interests
More than 2,600 young adults from throughout the United States as well as England, South Africa, Sudan, Iceland, and the Philippines, gathered at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Tennessee for the fourth annual General Youth Conference (GYC). The five-day event began December 28, 2005, and highlighted the nearness of Jesus’ second coming with the theme “Now Is the Time.”

Speakers for the main plenary sessions included David Gates, a missionary pilot in South America; Michael Hasel, a religion professor at Southern Adventist University; and Cindy Tutsch, an associate director of the General Conference White Estate. Seminar topics such as last-day events, urban evangelism, and personal spirituality reflected the theme of urgency. Nearly 50 of the youth who attended the conference—teens through young professionals—responded to an appeal for baptism or rebaptism. Hundreds more made commitments to become involved in evangelism.

RESPONDING TO THE CALL: GC vice president Mark Finley leads GYC attendees in a prayer of commitment. [photo credit: Alden J. Ho]
During the conference, attendees also had the opportunity to partner in a local outreach effort with Mark Finley, vice president of global evangelism for the Adventist world church, and his wife, Ernestine. Buses filled with young adults traveled to downtown Chattanooga and outlying towns where the youth knocked on thousands of doors to give Bible surveys and prayed with hundreds of people. More than 800 requests for Bible studies resulted from these contacts.

“Our [outreach] experience . . . left me with the conviction to study my Bible more, so that I can more effectually do God’s work in the field,” said University of Michigan student Tucker Antell.

The Finleys plan to uplink a satellite evangelistic series from the Chattanooga area in early summer 2006.

--Joelle Damsteegt, GYC vice president for communication/AR.

Indian Ambassadors Visit Adventist World Headquarters

(From left): Southern Asia Division president Ron Watts, India ambassador Singh Jassal, GC president Jan Paulsen, India ambassador Ronen Sen, GC vice president Eugene Hsu, and assistant to the GC president Orville Parachment. [photo credit: Jonathan Gallagher]
General Conference president Jan Paulsen greeted ambassadors Ronen Sen and Raminder Singh Jassal of India during their visit to the church’s world headquarters On January 4. During a private interview and a protocol luncheon, both visitors and hosts spoke on common themes of societal development.

Paulsen commended the leadership of India for “reaching out to all members of society and holding together such a conglomerate of people with fairness and freedom.”

Sen affirmed that “what keeps us sane is the essence of our civilization heritage and our respect for differences, especially in religious beliefs. We . . . celebrate the richness of diversity.”

Paulsen plans to visit India later this year.                 --GC Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department/AR.

MICHIGAN: Andrews University Web Site Wins Awards
Since its launch in mid-April 2005, the new Andrews University (AU) Web site has won two awards and taken its designer, Martin Lee, to the nation’s capital to lecture at a conference.

The first award, presented in September 2005, was for excellence in the category of “Entire Web Site” in the University & College Designers Association’s Thirty-fifth Annual Design Competition. The AU site was chosen to receive one of 15 awards of excellence out of nearly 100 electronic media entries from schools across the country. Lee was asked to give a presentation about the Web site that same month at the Serena Xchange 2005 Global User Conference in Washington, D.C.

The second award is a silver Pride of CASE V for Best Institutional Web site, presented in December. The site bested others from colleges and universities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio.

AU’s Web address is www.andrews.edu.                   --Andrews University Communication Department/AR.

It Is Written Launches Free Video Podcasting on iTunes

The It Is Written (IIW) television ministry has now made it possible for anyone with a computer and a connection to the Internet to access video podcasts of its programs via iTunes.

“These days, more and more people prefer to watch television ‘on demand,’ ” says Shawn Boonstra, IIW’s speaker/director. “Now when a person feels the urging of the Holy Spirit on their heart, they won’t have to wait until the next broadcast—plus they can keep and re-watch the programs on their desktop, laptop, or video iPod.”

Boonstra’s recent five-night series on the Second Coming, called The Appearing, was the first IIW series to be added to iTunes as a video podcast in both English and Spanish.

To download the free iTunes program for Mac or PC, go to www.itunes.com/download. To find IIW podcasts, go to www.itiswritten.com/podcasts.                               --IIW Public Relations Department/AR.

CYPRESS: Arabic Make-over for GraceLink

Six years after GraceLink, the curriculum for children’s Sabbath school published by the General Conference, was first introduced, the lessons are being translated into Arabic and their design adapted for the 337 million people in the Middle East and northern Africa for whom Arabic is their first language. The project is a joint venture of the Children’s Ministries departments of the Trans-European Division and the Middle East Union, and is being partly sponsored by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. The initial phase of this project is to place electronic versions of GraceLink in Arabic on the Internet to be downloaded locally as needed.

“[GraceLink] gave a boost to family worship since parents could use the material during the week to help develop their children’s spiritual habits in an engaging way,” says Valerie Fidelia, Middle East region Children’s Ministries director.

According to the General Conference Sabbath School Department, GraceLink is currently being translated into more than 40 languages. --Middle East Union Communication Department/AR.

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