Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams congratulates the Adventist church for its sterling contributions to Antigua during the church’s 130th anniversary of Adventistm on the island, Oct. 20, 2018. Photo by Joseph Jones

October 31, 2018 | Antigua, West Indies | Theresa Gordon/South Leeward Mission/IAD News Staff

Top government officials praised the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Antigua and called on leaders and members to assist with combating the scourge of non-communicable diseases, during the church’s 130th years of Adventism celebration on the island, on Oct. 20, 2018.

Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, and Prime Minister, the Honorable Gaston Browne, spoke to dozens of church leaders and church and community members at Gilbert’s Estate.

During his brief congratulatory remarks, Governor General Williams congratulated the church for its sterling contributions to Antigua through the production of teachers and musicians. The Governor General went on to commend the church for its health message.

“As you recount the positive results of the healthy lifestyle practices of the early founders and members, there is more than sufficient evidence to declare the effectiveness of such a way of life,” said Williams.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne indicated that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has made the most significant contribution to the economic development of the nation and appealed to church leaders to be part of the government’s role in the public education process as proponents of healthy lifestyle. Photo by Joseph Jones

Prime Minister Gaston Browne also gave congratulatory marks and indicated that in his estimation, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as a religious organization, has made the most significant contribution to the economic development of the nation.

Prime Minister Browne also made a significant appeal to the church leadership to assist in combating the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Browne said that the Adventist church members are strong proponents for a healthier lifestyle and they could play an integral role in the public education process.

“Seventh-day Adventism places restrictions on consuming meat or flesh foods. Flesh food is injurious to health and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul, “ said Browne. “Those are the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Your [positioning] for a wellness culture will lead to a reduction in the number of those who lose limbs by amputation and who suffer an early death.”

Non-communicable diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are mainly cardiovascular diseases that lead to heart attacks and stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and asthma. The WHO says NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 percent of all global deaths. For Antigua and Barbuda, diabetes is one of the main diseases plaguing nationals, according to island statistics.

Pathfinders from Antigua take part in the opening ceremony of the week-long activities celebrating Adventistm on the island. Photo by Joseph Jones

The government of Antigua is currently adopting proactive approaches to tackle the problem. One of those methods is taxing sugary beverages and incentivizing the use of nutritional foods, government officials said.

In response to the Prime Minister’s call, Mrs. Silvia Ham-Ying, health ministries director of the South Leeward Mission, indicated that addressing and battling NCD’s is one of the objectives of her department.

“We can target the community and also our members in the battle against NCD’s” said Ham-Ying.  “What may be effective is to develop active groups in each community, where the church serves that would focus on educating the community about healthy living.”

Ham-Ying went on to say that there is a significant need for persons to “do good health and not just hear about good health,” as she was pointing to a negative practice where large numbers of the population appear to regularly check their health status but apparently fail to adopt healthy practices that could improve their situations. This is evident in the number of persons who die as a result of an NCD.

Dr. Carson Greene, president of the church in the South Leeward Mission and his wife speak during the opening ceremony in Gilbert’s Estate on Oct. 20, 2018. Photo by Joseph Jones

President of the South Leeward Mission Dr. Carson Greene indicated that our theme “Looking Back, Pressing Forward” is quite fitting.  As we look back, we know that we did not get here by our own strength.  As we look back, we see clearly that God has indeed led.  As we look back we see imperfections and failures.  But we also see God’s mercies and grace towards us.  As we look back we are reminded that we have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way God has led us in the past.”

Under the theme, “Looking Back, Pressing Forward,” the Seventh-day Adventist church in Antigua is celebrating 130 years of Adventism on the island.  The earliest records available reveal that in December 1888, a colporteur named William Arnold visited the island with the Seventh-day Adventist message.

From these early beginnings the movement has mushroomed into a significant organization which today celebrates 31 congregations, one early childhood education development center, two primary schools, one secondary school, one satellite extension campus of the University of the Southern Caribbean, one radio station, one senior citizens’ home, one campsite, a credit union and over 11,000 members in a population of approximately 90,000 people.

The activities of the 130th anniversary celebrations continued the following day on Oct. 21st, with a grand health fair at the Gilbert’s Estate.  More than 200 persons benefitted from specialized services such as prostate exams, PAP smears, breast examinations, vision checks, and regular services such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks and Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations.

Health screenings were part of the medical services that the church organized to offer over 200 persons of the community on Antigua. Photo by Joseph Jones

The 130th anniversary celebrations in Antigua/Barbuda continued for the entire week with mini exhibitions, nightly meetings, a brief cruise around Antigua, and a convention and final gala banquet on Oct. 27, 2018.

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