Seventh-day Adventist public affairs leaders heralded the church’s first religious liberty symposium here in Guadeloupe as a model for more civic engagement at local regions worldwide.
Earlier this month, some 800 people attended a three-day symposium in this Caribbean island, with Adventist leaders continuing to urge local pastors and administrators to deliberately pursue dialogue with government officials and other religious groups.
In attendance were pastors, local church officials and government leaders, including the island’s top government official Josette Borel-Lincertin, president of the Regional Council of Guadaloupe. Guadaloupe is a department of France.
“We think a symposium like this is a model for more Adventist Church conferences and unions to organize locally,” said Ganoune Diop, associate director of the department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) at the denomination’s world headquarters.
“We want people to better know who Seventh-day Adventists are and be aware of their contributions to the community,” said Diop, who also serves as the church’s liaison to the United Nations.
Roberto Herrera, PARL director for the denomination’s Inter-American Division, said he hopes the event spurs more commitment on behalf of all congregations in understanding the importance of promoting religious freedom. It’s also a chance to promote the church’s commitment to health, education and humanitarian assistance, as well as empowering women and children.
Guadeloupe has long had strong religious liberty, said Patricia Sablier, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Guadeloupe Conference and organizer of the event.
The Adventist Church will hold a union-wide religious liberty celebration later this year in Martinique.