Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Some 21 leaders from 10 countries—including several from the South Pacific Division—came together for the first meeting of the World Adventist Public Officials Association (WAPOA) in July.
The association was formed after it was recognised that Seventh-day Adventists can find holding high public office an isolating experience.
L to R: Hon James Marape (PNG Minister of Finance) Ray Paul (PNG Commissioner of Customs), Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Silika. [Photo courtesy: Jamaica Union Conference]
At the July 8 meeting, ambassadors, government ministers, members of parliament, a senator, a deputy chief justice and high-level officials within international organisations discussed the challenges and opportunities facing Adventists in the public realm.
They spoke frankly about the need for better networking between Adventists who serve their governments, and about the loneliness that often comes with serving in a political or civic role. Some expressed their disappointment that holding elected office is sometimes seen as “off limits” for faithful church members—a sign someone has compromised their integrity. All spoke of their desire to carry their spiritual values into the public realm and reflect Christ’s character in their service.
Members of the World Adventist Public Officials Association. [Photo courtesy: Jamaica Union Conference]
Senator Floyd Morris, Senate President of Jamaica, was elected the first president of WAPOA. Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Bienvenido V Tejano, was chosen to serve as the association’s secretary.
According to Senator Morris, the first order of business will be to identify more Adventist public officials—whether they serve their national government or their local city council—and invite them to join the association. The group plans to communicate regularly and to organise a meeting in 2017.