Adventists and Religious Liberty

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Many have had the “great” experience of driving in your car when, suddenly, behind you blue and red light flash, and then the sound of a siren fills your ears.

You pull over, an officer approaches and, after a few minutes, you are the proud owner of a ticket for a traffic violation, which, of course, you have to pay or else face even worse consequences.

Now, what does this have to do with why Seventh-day Adventists have been strong promoters of religious freedom and the separation of church and state?          

The answer stems from a fundamental difference between how church and state work.          

The state—symbolized here by the officer giving you a ticket—works with, well, to put it bluntly, force.  Yes, force, as in the power to fine you, or the power to put you in jail. It’s the nature of a state, any state, to employ force in order to keep the peace, safety and stability of a nation. In most places, people obey the laws of the land because the state has the power to punish them if they don’t.    

Contrast that principle with faith, biblical faith. Jesus said that the first and most important commandment was to love “God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  Yes, the essence of true biblical faith stems from love, not force—and love, to be love, has to be freely given or else it’s not really love.  

Thus, a radical difference exists between church and state.  Most people don’t obey traffic laws or tax laws or other laws of the land out of love, do they? No, they obey it because the government uses power to compel that obedience.  In contrast, God doesn’t force us to obey Him.  No, instead He wants us to follow Him and obey Him freely, out of a heart of love. As the Bible says, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).          

Here, then, is the bottom-line difference: government uses force, but God uses love.  The principle behind religious freedom, or separation of church and state, is to try, as much as possible, to keep these two realms separate, or else you wind up with the government using force to compel things that should be done only out of love.          

There are, as we all know, terrible stories of what has happened when a state compels religious observance.  Those who practices differed from what the state wanted to enforce would often face terrible persecution simply because they wanted to be faithful to their understanding of what God asked them to do.                      

This is something that Seventh-day Adventists are sensitive to, because our practice of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), as opposed to the more commonly kept first day of the week (Sunday), has at times put us in conflict with governments that enforce Sunday closing laws.  Thus, from the earliest times of our existence, we have placed a great emphasis on religious freedom, not just for ourselves, but also for everyone. After all, if God doesn’t force us to obey Him, what makes the state think it should?          

Jesus said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” (Matthew 22:21).  Sure, Caesar had the right to issue tickets for traffic violations. That’s his job.  But when it comes to matters of faith, how you worship, what day you worship on, how you pray, and many other things that involve religious belief and practice, the safest course is for the government to stay as far away as possible.  

Some things belong to force, some only to love, and we need the wisdom to know the difference between the two.
--Excerpt taken from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists website. (2014 Statement)

January 2020
8 - 18   Ten Days of Prayer
10   Let’s Move to Live Program Begins – Fun/Run/Walk
10 - 12   South Bahamas Conference National Convention
Relaunch of Be My Mentor
12   Annual Meeting (Conference Administrators /Directors/ Coordinators Reports)
14   Pastors’ Evangelistic Campaigns Online Meeting
16   South Bahamas Conference Audit
17 - 19   Family Island Conventions
17 - 19   ACLASS – 10 Hours Pathfinders & Senior Youth Leaders Course
18   Religious Liberty Day
19   AHPA & Health Ministries Re-consecration Prayer Breakfast
21 - 26   OYIM University (Online)
24 - 26   Sabbath School Teaching Training
25   Youth Church ACLASS Graduation and Consecration (Joint AY p.m)
26   Master Guide Program Registration
26   Departmental Training
26 - Feb. 2   Week of Prayer for the Pastoral Family
26 & Feb. 2   Communication Department Training (Joint digital mixer board training for all churches)
30 - Feb. 2   Screening for 8 Weeks to Wellness

 Convention Gratitude
The Administration, along with the Planning Committee for Convention 2020 would like to express profound thanks to the many persons who made sure that Convention was an awesome worship experience. We trust that you are refreshed and revived for greater service as we look forward to the soon return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Family Island Convention
January 17-18, 2020
Exuma – Pastor T. Basil Sturrup, Sis. Lavern Sturrup, Sis. Cindy Stuart.
Cat Island – Pastor Nikita Thompson
Long Island – Pastor Kenny Deveaux, Pastor Jon Dorsett
North Andros – Pastor Leonardo Rahming, Pastor Lee Burrows
San Salvador – Sis. Kimberly Bryan, Elder Curtis Bryan

Mr. Norward Rahming, Head Elder of the High Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church, South Andros received the ‘Order of Distinction’ Award during the 2019 National Honours Award Ceremony held at Government House on October 14th 2019.  We congratulate Mr. Rahming and family as he continues to offer tremendous and exemplary service to the people of South Andros and the Bahamas.

At our last Executive Committee meeting it was voted to reassign a few of the pastors within the South Bahamas Conference.
Pastor C. Melvin Lewis - Message of Hope Church
Pastor Wilson Isnord – Ebenezer Church
Pastor Lee Burrows - North Andros District
Pastor Jamal Franklyn - Bethany Church – January 4, 2020.
Pastor Sidney Jon Dorsett - Long Island District
Administration – Gambier Church

New Providence District changes are effective February 1, 2020; and Family Island Districts will be effective January 18, 2020.  Please kindly continue to pray for these Pastors and churches that the ‘marriage’ will be one made in heaven.  


Thank You!
A special thank you is extended to our past and present leaders, children & adolescents, parents along with all of the persons who assisted in making our CHAM Convention a wonderful experience for our children. We say thank you to the Pastor, Officers and Members of the Maranatha church for allowing us to utilize your church facilities. Your kind hospitality was truly felt. God bless you all and we look forward to doing great works for the Lord in 2020. 

--Mrs. Lavern Sturrup, Children & Adolescent Ministries Director

Upcoming Training
Registration for the hands-on training to be held on January 26 & February 2, 2020 on the Digital Mixer Board is CLOSED. The sessions will be held with Mr. Dwayne Roberts, Professional Audio Engineer.
PLEASE NOTE, only those persons that are registered will be accommodated at this time. Another session will be held later this year. Thank you for your cooperation.
– Mrs. Lavern Sturrup, Communication Director

‘Let’s Move’ Fun Run/Walk
Thank You

A special thank you is extended to the Fun Run/Walk organizing committee under the leadership of Sis. Magnal Thompson for organizing and executing our department’s first event, ‘Let’s Move.’  Also thank you to all the other volunteers and participants. Keep moving folks.

Public Health Lecture
Thank You

Thank you to all the persons who participated and attended the Psychological Trauma public Health Lecture facilitated by the faculty members of School of Psychiatry, Loma Linda University. Also, thanks to the Atlantic Caribbean Union, South Bahamas Conference and the Pastor, Officers and members of New Providence Church. We are greatly appreciative.

8 Weeks to Wellness Coaches Needed
An invitation is extended to all persons who would like to be a coach or volunteer in any of the areas of the 8 Weeks to Wellness 2020 program.  The next training session is scheduled for Monday, January 27, at the Conference Headquarters at 5.30p.m.  

Health Ministries Leadership Training
All Health leaders, assistants and Adventist Health Professionals are invited to a training session on January 26, 2020 from 9:00a.m to noon in the boardroom at the South Bahamas Conference. Vital information will be given on leadership, public speaking, preparing PowerPoint Presentations and much more. 

--Mrs. Nathelyn LaCroix, Health Ministries Director

Teachers Training 
January 24 @ 7:00p.m
January 25 @ 9:30a.m
January 25 @ 11:00a.m
January 26 @ 8:00a.m
These meetings will be held at the Grant’s Town Seventh- day Adventist Church, Wellington Street.
Topics will include: Keys to Mission Success and How to Take Your Class on a Journey. Our guest presenter will be Elder Curtis Hall.
--Pastor Leonardo Rahming, Sabbath School Director

First Quarter (January - March)
“WE” (Women Empowerment) – Q1 Forecast:

January, 2020
26   French Speaking Churches WM Consecration Service - 6:30p.m Francophone Church

February, 2020
2   WM Leaders Team Meeting – 9:30 a.m SBC Office    
7   Zone 1  WM Consecration Service
29   SBC “Women on God’s Mission” Evangelistic Series - 6:45p.m New Providence Church

March, 2020
1-7   SBC “Women on God’s Mission” Evangelistic Series - 6:45p.m New Providence Church
7   International Women’s Day of Prayer
20-22   WM San Salvador Weekend Retreat & Zone 1 Community Outreach

Warfare Wednesdays
The Women’s Ministries Department extends an invitation to all women in the South Bahamas Conference to join us on our  “Pause and Pray” journey at noon each Wednesday. This collective effort not only enriches our prayer lives, but the results of these unified prayers are unmeasurable.  You may contact your local leader for more information on this wonderful initiative.

Used, But In Good Condition Devotionals
Kindly donate to your local Women’s Ministries Leader for distribution during our community outreach projects. 

--Mrs. Jacqueline Gibson, Women’s Ministries Director

ACLASS 2020:
The annual Youth Certification program continues this weekend, January 17th-18th, 2020 for AY leaders & Pathfinder directors at the South Bahamas Conference. More information can be received from your AY leader.

Youth Church 2020 Launch
Joint AY Service will be held at the Good News Seventh-day Adventist Church, on Sabbath, January 25th, 2020 at 4:00p.m.
A special Consecration Service for AY Leaders, Pathfinder & Adventurer Directors, AY Sponsors and Elders for Youth is planned!  
Dress Code
Leaders/Directors: AY & Masterguide Uniform
Youth: Church T-Shirt
--Pastor Jamal Franklyn, Youth Director

The Philadelphia Church invites you to its Family & Friends Celebration Experience on Sabbath January 18, 2020. Elder Audley Mitchell is our special guest speaker. Come and join us for this amazing worship
and fellowship experience.
A delicious and nutritious meal will be served after the service.
Come and be blessed!
--Sis. Shandera Smith, Communication Leader

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