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In East-Central Africa, Adventist president urges 'ownership' of church

Involvement, financial contribution necessary to support growth, Paulsen says

In East-Central Africa, Adventist president urges 'ownership' of church

Adventist world church President Jan Paulsen tours construction projects on the fledgling campus of Adventist University of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. [photos: courtesy ECD]

Seventh-day Adventist world church President Jan Paulsen recently encouraged local leadership and members in East-Central Africa to "take ownership" of the church.

During a four-day tour last week, Paulsen met with local church leaders, laypeople and Adventist University of Africa (AUA) administration and partners, encouraging self-sufficiency in the region.

"The church in Africa must be able to provide for its own needs for the future because of its rapid growth," he said, citing that the more than $10 million invested by world church headquarters into AUA infrastructure is not sustainable.

Assuring AUA administration that world church headquarters would continue to help the institution grow stronger academically, Paulsen urged local leadership to embrace the opportunity to build on the church's existing foundation in the region.

Classes at Adventist University of Africa, a church-run postgraduate institution in Nairobi, began in 2006. During his visit, Paulsen learned that the government is currently assessing the school with intent to grant it an official charter. In a meeting with Paulsen, Kenya's minister for higher education, William Ruto, said the country is "committed to working with the church to develop AUA."

With campus faculty housing now complete, student apartments and a library are slated for completion next. A center for technology is also planned, which will house laboratories for health sciences, information technology and computer science, as well as a media center, school officials said.

At a fundraising event for AUA during his visit, Paulsen urged church members in Kenya to maintain unity, and to be positive, contributing members of society. "Be a friend of the community, be engaged and be a good partner with the government," he said.

Paulsen also spoke at Sabbath worship services in Mombasa, where he emphasized the value of unity within both the church and the broader community. Adventists in largely Muslim Mombasa should live in peace and harmony and avoid criticism, he told the congregation.

"We worship one God ... so I am coming to Mombasa to worship with my family," Paulsen said, adding that religious convictions should not stir tension in the community.

"We are all growing, so let's be understanding of each other. Everyone is unfinished and God is still working on all of us," he said.

Earlier in his trip, Paulsen met with the president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza. The national leader said he appreciated the Adventist Church's positive relationship with the government, and applauded its health and education systems.