It can be difficult for Seventh-day Adventists to achieve a balance when it comes to politics, but a new networking group hopes to make things a little less isolating for political figures worldwide.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church maintains a longstanding neutral position on candidates running for elected office, and that can prove challenging for church members who also happen to be politicians.
While some have been able to pull off a political career as an Adventist—most notably neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is currently tied for sixth in polling for the Republican presidential nomination—it’s not always easy to straddle the line, especially when members of the church often look skeptically at politics, an area some Adventists see as “off limits.”
But a new networking group launched earlier this month could help these political figures build a stronger support system.
The World Adventist Public Officials Association, which held its first general meeting in San Antonio earlier this month, brought in international politicians from countries such as Jamaica, Brazil, and the Philippines. Many of these leaders hold a variety of roles in their respective countries—whether as head of the country’s senate (in the case of Jamaica’s Floyd Morris), an ambassador (Bienvenido V. Tejano, who serves as the Philippines’ ambassador to Papua New Guinea), or even as an association leader (the Brazilian Bar Association’s Damaris Moura Kuo).
Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke at the event and encouraged the leaders to remain motivated by their faith when making decisions.
“You are the Esthers, the Josephs, the Daniels of our world,” Wilson said, according to a news release. “You make a difference in an arena that most of us never touch. And never forget you are there for a purpose; you are where God has placed you. Yes, you serve your country, or a particular legislature. But most importantly, because you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you are working under the very highest authority: Jesus Christ our Savior. You are called to be unusual ambassadors for Christ.”
Dr. Ganoune Diop, a church leader in charge of the church’s public affairs and religious liberty departments, agreed with the sentiment.
“These men and women need our support and our prayers,” he explained in the release. “They are first and foremost our brothers and our sisters, but they are also called to represent Christ’s kingdom and his values within often-difficult and sensitive circumstances.”
Jamaica’s Morris will serve as the association’s first president and will be tasked with finding more Adventist politicians, in the hopes of getting them to join the association. The group plans to hold another meeting in 2017.