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North American Division news:
At 4 p.m. PDT/7 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2019, university students from across North America will attend the fourth “Is This Thing On?” (ITTO) live-streamed conversation during the annual Adventist Christian Fellowship Institute. Those gathered will have the opportunity to engage with Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders from the North American Division (NAD) during a 90-minute livestreamed conversation. Sharing comments from the conversation on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, is encouraged during the event.
The dialogue with Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America; Alex Bryant, executive secretary; and Randy Robinson, treasurer, will be held at the Life Adventist Church of Berkeley, California.
“Our church only becomes stronger when we talk to each other, pray with each other, and learn from one another,” said Jackson.“I look forward to an open dialogue on the issues important to young people. It’s especially exciting to be with our friends from public universities.”
“Having this type of dialogue with Adventist young people from public colleges and universities is a first for us, and we are really looking forward to hearing what they have to say,” said Bryant.
This will also be the first “Is This Thing On?” for Robinson, who is looking forward to answering questions on finance and how the church works. “In the mission of the division, stewardship is an important issue,” Robinson said. “I look forward to talking about my philosophy of ministry, . . . and promoting efficiency.”
The program is unscripted; questions will be taken primarily from the live studio audience. Subjects will likely includethe Bible, young adults in the church/society, church policy, Adventist lifestyle, race relations, and more.
The young adult audience featured during the ITTO live event will primarily be attendees of the ACF Institute. According the website, ACF is about following the mission of God through the Seventh-day Adventist Church on college and university campuses in Bermuda, Canada, Guam-Micronesia, and the United States. “ACF is a ministry of students, by students and for students, supported by local Adventist churches and resourced by Adventist Conferences, Unions and the North American Division. It includes concerned parents, faculty, pastors, chaplains, church leaders, church members and hundreds of volunteers.”
The event will be hosted by Julio Muñoz, associate director of the NAD Office of Communication, and Mylon Medley, news writer/news producer and assistant director of the NAD Office of Communication. Those in the audience and watching online are encouraged to use #NADNOW.
The first Is This Thing On? Event, held on March 14, 2017, drew more than 23,000 viewers, with hundreds of questions and comments pouring in during the event and directly after. The second event on December 2, 2017, at Oakwood University drew 11,300 views and about 2,000 reactions and posted comments, which included 975 questions and statements regarding the conversation. More than 80,500 Twitter accounts were reached through almost 400 tweets and retweets. The third event, held on May 12, 2018, at Walla Walla University, drew almost 8,850 views, with 1,200 comments, reactions, and shares on Facebook alone.
—NAD Office of Communicationkmaran Mon, 05/20/2019 - 14:28
On Friday, May 17, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5). The bill, if it were to become law, would extend protection to gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals across a broad spectrum of U.S. civil rights laws. This would include employment, housing, public accommodation, and social services.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned that this legislation would further erode the religious liberty of faith communities and their members. This bill makes no allowance for communities or individuals of faith who hold traditional views of marriage and gender.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that every human being, regardless of their beliefs or choices, is created in the image of God and thus deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We recognize LGBT individuals often suffer unjust discrimination and are in need of legal protection.
Unfortunately, in attempting to provide protection for some, the Equality Act unnecessarily infringes upon the rights of others.
The way forward means addressing the concerns of both the LGBT and religious communities. We believe there is a better approach, one that builds upon the civil rights protections offered in the Equality Act by also reaffirming the First Amendment religious freedom rights of people of faith.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church reaffirms its biblical interpretation of marriage, gender, and our long-held commitment to the separation of church and state. The Seventh-day Adventist Church calls on Congress to pass legislation that guards the civil rights of all Americans, while unequivocally protecting the right of faith communities to live, worship, and witness according to their convictions.kmaran Fri, 05/17/2019 - 06:21
After Tennessee Governor Bill Lee denied clemency to Donnie Edward Johnson on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, the Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church has decided to hold a prayer vigil for Johnson, an Adventist on death row for murdering his wife more than 30 years ago. Johnson, who holds Bible studies inside the prison and started a radio program called "What the Bible Says,” is an elder of Riverside Chapel, and a part of the church’s prison ministry.
“We are praying even at this hour, with the governor saying he has denied clemency, that God will change his decision," said Furman Fordham II, Riverside Chapel pastor. "We are still asking God and hoping, if it is His will, that He would stop this and preserve Don’s life."
The meeting will be held at the church at 6 p.m. (CDT), on May 16, the day Johnson is scheduled to die. This will be the church's second prayer vigil; the first was held on Saturday, May 11, in front of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. "We will be giving individuals an opportunity to express where they are relative to this journey. To pray for Don, to pray for the governor . . . we will be here at 7 when the decision is finally executed or not. If it is execution — we are still hoping it will not be — we will stay on sight so we can mourn, encourage one another in the Lord, and praise God that Don has everlasting life."
Several Adventist Church leaders have asked for mercy for Johnson, with letters hand-delivered to Gov. Lee this week.
In one letter, Ted N.C. Wilson, Seventh-day Adventist Church world president, asked Lee to “prayerfully consider granting mercy to Mr. Johnson by sparing his life so he may continue providing this important spiritual ministry.”
“I am told that [Mr. Johnson] has brought other prisoners to Christ, leading them to make a full surrender to God, and that this is having a positive influence throughout the prison and beyond,” Wilson wrote.
Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD) also sent a letter, acknowledging the inmate’s crime while writing that Johnson “turned his life around and now serves as a Christian mentor to his fellow prisoners. . . . The multiple lives he helped transform via his prison ministry are only a glimpse into the many potential lives he can touch and help transform.”
Despite the letters of appeal from Adventist church leaders and members, as well as members of other faith communities, Gov. Lee stated that he will not stop the execution, the first of his term, rejecting a plea for mercy from Johnson.
“After a prayerful and deliberate consideration of Don Johnson‘s request for clemency, and after a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening,” Lee said in a brief statement released shortly before 5:30 p.m. on May 14.
NAD church leaders responded on May 15 with this comment: “Our prayers go out to Donnie Johnson, his family, and all those involved in his case. Mr. Johnson has expressed he has found peace in the decision to deny him clemency and we pray that he will continue to find strength provided by his faith in Jesus Christ.
"The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America had hoped for a different outcome in the decision regarding clemency. We acknowledge Governor Bill Lee’s prayerful consideration of Mr. Johnson’s case and understand this was a difficult decision.”
Johnson’s clemency attorney, Rev. Charles Fels, responded to Lee’s statement on behalf of Johnson, saying that the inmate “accepts it as God’s will.”
"Don [is in] the death watch cell, right beside the death chamber. . . . He is amazingly experiencing the peace of God, which I think is an obvious miracle and answer to prayer," said Fordham. "We are praying that God, if He does allow him to lay down his life, will have Don do it with no fear, with peace, and so much faith that his death becomes a shining testimony to those who are watching."
"The balancing act is praying with hope and optimism and faith, . . . simultaneously believing that what God does and allows is still for His glory. We are right in the middle of that space," he added.
Fordham shared that he and his congregation will also be praying for Johnson's family. "We do not minimize the horrific murder that he committed. Neither does he," Fordham said. "We recognized there are family members who have not received [sic] forgiveness and they are seeking closure through ‘vengeance justice,’ and we are praying for them too. We are praying that God will heal them.”
Johnson is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. on May 16.
UPDATE 09:30 EDT, May 20, 2019: Adventist and death row inmate Donnie Edward Johnson died at 7:37 p.m. CDT on May 16, 2019; read a full report by the Tennessean.
CLICK HERE to read the NAD’s first report on Johnson’s story and full versions of Jackson’s and Wilson’s letters to Lee.
Elder Malcolm Gordon, former president of the Southern Union Conference, passed on Sunday, May 12, 2019, just two days after his 85th birthday. He was living in New Jersey.
Gordon and Hazel married June 1954. They graduated from Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University) in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in 1956; Gordon graduated from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in 1958. While still in the seminary, he became a ministerial assistant in the Michigan Conference.
In 1959 Gordon received a call to the North Dakota Conference and remained there until 1970 when he went to serve in the Southern New England Conference. He served the Southern New England Conference as MV (Missionary Volunteer) and Ministerial secretary. He and Hazel then served as president and first lady of the Carolina and Florida conferences.
During the 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, Gordon was elected president of the Southern Union, a position he held for 13 years, 1990-2003. After retirement, he and his wife settled in Apopka, Florida, but later moved to New Jersey.
His wife, Hazel, preceded him in death on Oct. 9, 2017, in Paramus, New Jersey. Gordon is survived by his two daughters Merilee (George) Miller and Meladee Dawn Oster; and three grandchildren.kmaran Tue, 05/14/2019 - 08:12