Kolkata Church doubles in size after four-year initiative
Seventh-day Adventists have lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) since 1893, but today, they number only several hundred within a population of 15 million. Local Adventists committed themselves to changing that number, resulting in a four-year initiative that culminated in June with a doubling of church attendance and 123 baptisms. Editor’s Note: A quick look at Google Maps reveals there is only one church in Kolkata. The other listing is the South Bengal Section office. In India, “Sections” are the equivalent of a “conference” or “mission conference.
Prayer: Doordash edition
In January 2016, local leaders hired 18 gospel workers on 11-month contracts. Over the course of seven months, senior pastors and lay leaders trained those workers and sent them on a door-to-door prayer campaign to pray with people in the community. In September 2016, churches across the Union held a week of prayer for the gospel workers. Members formed 24-hour prayer chains and others all across the Union focused their prayers on these gospel workers. Church members held temperance rallies to help community members with addictions. Health professionals spoke on the streets to crowds. And, members took part in a city-wide clean-up day, sweeping the streets and sidewalks. “People knew they were from the church, and this created a good feeling in the community. People came to us to ask, ‘Why are you doing this? Tell us more about you,’” recounted Shekar Phillips, the Southern Asia Division’s associate health ministries director.
Cheaper by the Dozens...and dozens
Starting in April 2018, the church started holding a mini health fair each Sunday, yielding approximately 1,200 contacts. Every Monday, church members fasted and prayed, attracting both Christian and non-Christians alike. One gospel worker (similar to what Paul did in Acts 17) used a local religion’s sacred writings to point people to Jesus. By the end of June 2019, 123 people had been baptized and an additional 300 to 400 people were attending worship services regularly.
Word on the street is…
Adventists are excited about this, comparing it to a grassroots movement. While 15 million is a huge number to reach, they have to start somewhere. Some, however, criticize the gospel worker who used another religion’s book to teach about Jesus, concerned that these people will not be willing to put away their old religious books in favor of the Bible. Overall, this initiative has seems to be a win for the church in Kolkata and Adventists are excited to see what will come next for them.
SPUC honors its retirees
Never too old for a party…#TMI
On June 28-29, the South Philippine Union Conference (SPUC) held a retirees convention to honor those who paved the way for the church today. The convention brought together close to 500 retirees who have been a part of different missions and conferences within the SPUC. Esther Camacho, age 90, was recognized the oldest in attendance. Before retirement, she worked as a teacher for 35 years. She gave thanks to God that, during her 35 years of teaching, she never became sick. SPUC president Roger Caderma highlighted the importance of the contribution these retirees made to the church we have today. He also noted how dedicated they were to the mission of the church, despite the sometimes difficult working conditions. Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) president Samuel Saw expressed his gratitude to the retirees for the paths they paved. He also encouraged them to use their experiences to contribute to the Total Member Involvement (TMI) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
NAD hosts fourth “Is This Thing On?” at the 2019 ACF Institute
Is This Thing Still On?
Is This Thing On? (ITTO) is a live-streamed Q&A style event hosted by the NAD geared toward addressing the concerns of young people and creating a more transparent style of leadership. The first iteration of ITTO was held at Union College in March 2017. Since then, it has been held at Oakwood University, Walla Walla, and now at the 2019 Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) Institute held May 20-25 at the University of California, Berkeley. ACF is an organization created to serve Adventist students at public colleges and universities while the ACF Institute is meant to be a time of connection, worship, and empowerment for those students, making it an ideal place for the NAD to host ITTO and serve public campus students. This edition of ITTO featured Dan Jackson, president; Alex Bryant, executive secretary; and Randy Robinson, treasurer. Each officer took turns answering individually-directed questions, followed by the three answering as a panel. Questions mostly focused on finances, church policy, social issues, and how young adults can have a greater voice in Adventism. Robinson’s promise to address the need for funding for public campus ministry served as a notable highlight to the event.
In the June 28 Weekly Brief, citing this article, we reported the female pastors convention that took place in Berlin, Germany was the first female pastors convention. Although both the Inter-European Region (EUD) news and Spectrum (from which we cited) reported it as "the first European Female Pastors Convention." The Scratch has since learned this was an incorrect distinction and the EUD was only referencing their own territory. This is the first female pastors convention specifically in the EUD, but there have been others in Europe prior to this.
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Contributors: Ben Curet, Jill Evans, Ryan Becker