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Takoma Park Adventists Thanked for Service

By Celeste Ryan Blyden

The Takoma Park City Council recently passed a resolution expressing appreciation to six Adventist leaders based in Takoma Park, Md. The leaders, pictured left to right and recognized by Takoma Park City Councilman Terry Seamens (second from left), include Erwin Mack, chair of the Adventist Community Action Council (ACAC); Larry Rich, principal of Sligo Adventist School; Dunbar Henri, principal of Takoma Academy; David Waller, principal of John Nevins Andrews School; Jere Stocks, president of Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH); and (not pictured) Ron Wiley, executive director of Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington. Each was presented with a certificate of appreciation at a recent ACAC meeting for their organization of a community project.

For the second year in a row, they organized an Earth Day community clean-up effort. Wiley coordinated the event, the principals engaged 400 of their students in picking up trash along a two-mile stretch in the city, the hospital provided nurses in case of emergency, and Mack secured sponsorship from local businesses and worked with city officials to identify the clean-up location.

The ACAC---which also involves leaders from Columbia Union Conference, Columbia Union College (CUC), Adventist HealthCare, and senior pastors from all Adventist churches in the city---was established four years ago "to coordinate the resources of the Adventist organizations in the Takoma Park area and to address key community issues." Besides discussing issues facing Adventists in the area---such as the move of WAH and leadership changes at CUC---they often invite community leaders to monthly meetings to talk about ways to address community needs. Two years ago while meeting with the group, Mayor Kathy Porter cited a need for help with removing litter. "The Seventh-day Adventist Church has always taught that we are stewards of the Earth entrusted to us," Mack says about ACAC's decision to address this problem. "It's our responsibility to teach that to our children and teach them to clean up after others as well."

The group has also looked at how to help community leaders keep students across the city busy after school so they won't be tempted to engage in gang activity. They're currently considering doing a study of Adventist parents to find out why they are or aren't sending their children to Adventist schools. "The answers will give us some direction in terms of how to address concerns and provide the best education possible for our students," says Henri.