Seventh-day Adventist Church officers yesterday welcomed Washington's Brazilian consul general to the denomination's world headquarters, lauding Brazil's commitment to religious freedom and showcasing the church's operations in the South American country.
Church leaders said Brazil is home to one of the more "vibrant" regions of the denomination. Though the nation is largely Catholic, Brazil is home to nearly 1.3 million Adventist Church members, the largest Adventist population of any country. Brazil is also experiencing significant growth among other Protestant denominations.
"We're very grateful for the religious freedom for not just the Adventist Church but for all churches," Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson told Ambassador Almir Barbuda. "Adventists are keen to hold onto and nurture religious freedom for all people."
Barbuda, a former Brazilian ambassador to Belgium, commended the church for its work in education and healthcare. "You are doing a wonderful job in Brazil," he told a small group of church leaders in the executive dining room.
Wilson said the Adventist Church focuses on making Christianity "practical" where it operates. The church in Brazil runs 475 elementary schools, about 130 secondary schools, six colleges, and the largest university in the denomination -- more than 8,000 students attend Brazil Adventist University in Sao Paulo.
"In Brazil we operate schools and hospitals and almost every week we're inaugurating a Hope Channel television station in a different city. We want to share with the government what we're doing," said Williams Costa Jr., the church's Communication director and a native of Brazil.