Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Union Members Participate in NARLA’s Religious Liberty Summit

attendees at GC Attendees pause with Ted Wilson, world church president.

Union Members Participate in NARLA’s Religious Liberty Summit

By NARLA Staff

Thirty-five religious liberty advocates travelled to Silver Spring, Md., earlier this month to attend the annual Religious Liberty Summit. Eleven of those attendees were Columbia Union church members who share a commitment to freedom of conscience. Sponsored by the North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA), the annual event provides attendees with an opportunity to study, worship and mobilize in the name of religious freedom.

“Our goal is to reinvigorate our attendees’ passion for religious freedom,” says Melissa Reid, NARLA executive director. “Presentations and panel discussions are designed to provide an in-depth understanding of contemporary religious liberty challenges, as well as train participants on how best to approach legislators about these complex issues.”

The four-day event included an afternoon of legislative office visits on Capitol Hill. Constituents participated in meetings with staffers for five members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—senators Menendez, Cardin, Boxer, Corker and Rubio—in support of H.R. 4653, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Reauthorization Act of 2014. The three advocacy teams emphasized the Seventh-day Adventist Church's reliance on the non-partisan research that USCIRF provides, and the need for the commission’s reauthorization before its term expiration on September 30.

“My wife, Vidya, and I were honored to be part of this summit. We learned that it's not our political strength either as Republican or Democrat, but it's being His ambassadors that help us in approaching the senators involved in voting H.R. 4653,” says Vilas Urtekar from New Jersey. He adds that Sen. Bob Menendez, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has assured them that this bill will pass in his committee.

Potomac Conference’s Burnt Mills church in Silver Spring has hosted the Friday evening and Sabbath spiritual emphasis portion of the summit for the past two years. G. Edward Reid, former director of stewardship for the North American Division, was this year’s featured presenter. He titled his two presentations “Into the Lions’ Den” and “Unity vs. Conformity.”

“Like last year, the weekend’s programs were very informative, interesting and inspiring,” says Don Essex, Burnt Mills’ religious liberty leader. “I [have] had several church members comment about the blessing they received from the messages given by Elder Reid and the discussion held by the religious liberty experts. Some even went so far as to urge me to immediately begin making arrangements for NARLA to return next year!”

To watch Reid’s presentations, visit the NARLA video YouTube page.


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