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World’s Largest Southern Asian Adventist Church Celebrates 25 Years
Story by Richard Christian
Franklin David, senior pastor for the Southern Asian church, stands with Ralph Martin, who was president of the Potomac Conference when the church was established.
Just this weekend, Potomac Conference’s Southern Asian church (SASDAC) in Silver Spring, Md., celebrated 25 years of ministry. The church, which began with 50 members in 1988, has grown to more than 850 making it the largest Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist church in the world, according to Franklin David, who has pastored the church since its inception.
“This weekend was another highpoint for our congregation,” said Pastor David. “This weekend’s successful program evidences God’s love and kindness. This congregation has relied on God by giving faithfully both financially and with time.”
Until recently, David was the only pastor for over 600 members in addition to ministering to the Indian community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
The weekend celebration began with Friday evening vespers featuring Raj Kumar Attiken, president of the Ohio Conference, as speaker. On Sabbath Gladwin Mathews convened a special Sabbath School program panel. The church service was punctuated by the colorful regalia of a parade of ethnic diversity as individuals dressed in their customary ethnic apparel to represent each of the many states of India. Veena J. Alfred, a leading lay member, organized the program. “This success of our program was due to God’s continual leading throughout and the involvement of many church members,” Alfred said.
Bill Miller, Potomac Conference president, presented an inspirational sermon for the divine worship service, which was followed by fellowship lunch with a menu of exotic traditional Indian cooking.
The afternoon program was another spiritual highpoint. “We were blessed by a special blend of local Indian talent and Vijay Benedict, a former Bollywood singer and a devout Christian today, who traveled from India to perform at this program,” said John Varghese, head elder. “His rousing style and personal testimony was a moving tribute to the power of the Holy Spirit. After Sabbath at 8:30 p.m., a social program … showcased talent from a wide range of local performers who showed the incredible talent that God has given His people.”
For the first 15 years of its existence, the Southern Asian church rented two nearby churches, and in 2006, after a vigorous building project, moved into their home at 2001 East Randolph Road in Silver Spring. The location next to the General Conference headquarters was an answer to prayer. Once the land was acquired, the financial challenge of raising capital for the building program seemed insurmountable. Once again, prayer was the answer. To expand their ministry even more, SASDAC has planted a sister church in Herndon, Va.
“While the primary focus has been on Southern Asian Indians, SASDAC provides a home to people of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds,” said Varghese. “This is a congregation largely made up of first generation Indo-American immigrants. God has created something special here, especially for the young people. They have been presented with unique leadership opportunities previously unavailable.”
According to the church’s leaders, the weekend celebration is the beginning of a legacy of Seventh-day-Adventist ethnic Indian church growth in North America. They believe that when average people reach out to God and put their trust and faith in Him, they accomplish things that are extraordinary.
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