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In Rural Curaçao, Adventists seek, serve elderly in community

Ceremony honored those 80 and older, goal is to build bridges.

In Rural Curaçao, Adventists seek, serve elderly in community

Pastor Shurman Kook, president of the church in the Dutch Caribbean Union hands a token to Virginia Jansen during the special honoring ceremony. [Photo courtesy of Shurman Kook.]

In a small picturesque village on the southwest part of Curaçao, a group of Seventh-day Adventists took the time to celebrate some of the oldest members of the rural community after the mass service at the local Catholic Church in Lagun. The church, which reportedly had been experiencing poor attendance, was packed Sunday, January 15, as 14 villagers, ranging in age from 80 years old and up were honored in a special program and presented with a wooden token engraved with a Bible text.

“Our members wanted to foster contact with the community with this special initiative,” said Pastor Shurman Kook, president of the church in Curaçao, who took part in the ceremony. Kook, who is a native of Lagun and who was an altar boy at that very church, said it was important to connect with the community within their context, a context predominantly Catholic.

It was a mission driven activity that sought to lead to more friendly relations, so arrangements were made with the priest for the ceremony, organizers said.

The group of 30 Adventists who commute to another village each week for church services at an Adventist Church, wanted to get to know their fellow villagers more.

Morela de la Cruz, whose mother was among those recognized, said that it was “a unique and historical moment to see members of the Adventist Church together with members of the Pro Village Foundation…for our elderly and their relatives,” on her Facebook page.

After the service, attendees were interviewed in order to document some historical and cultural data about the 150-year-old village.

“The activity became a great success as individuals and organizations in the community gave their support to the program,” said Kook.

Kook said that some of the members were apprehensive about organizing an activity in a Catholic church during the mass, but the organizers insisted that it was part of Inter-American Division’s “Lord Transform Me” strategic plan to connect and share with the community, encouraging trust, credibility and respect for the Seventh-day Adventist Church group.

There are plans for additional activities starting in March with a storytelling morning where the elderly will reminisce about their early life in the village, as well as seminars on health, education, family life, and biblical issues.

Adventist members there “want to bring people together to connect and share our unique message and lifestyle,” Kook said.

Curaçao is home to the Dutch Caribbean Union Headquarters which was organized in 2015 with a region comprised of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. There are more than 9,024 Seventh-day Adventists worshiping in 44 churches and congregations in the Dutch Caribbean territory.