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Union Office Hosts PARL Meeting

By Beth Michaels

More than 60 religious liberty leaders and representatives from the Allegheny East, Chesapeake, Pennsylvania, and Potomac conferences recently converged at the Columbia Union Conference office building in Columbia, Md., for a special event covering “Social Justice and the Worship of God.”

Speakers for the special one-day event were John Gratz, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church; Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine; Hamlet Canosa, EdD, vice president of education for the Columbia Union; Walter E. Carson, director of religious liberty for the Columbia Union; Adrian Westney, associate director of religious liberty for the Columbia Union; Gerald Grimaud, attorney and religious liberty leader for Pennsylvania Conference’s Tunkhannock church; and Olive Hemmings, professor of religion at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Md.

In addition to covering current issues facing the Adventist Church, speakers discussed “Worship in the Context of Christianity and Culture,” “Social Justice and World Order,” and “Definition Affects Understanding,” among other topics.

“You’ve got to define your words, like social and justice, in order to relate to any subject,” explained Westney about the day’s subject. “And that is especially true when you’re discussing the worship of God.”

During his presentation, Hemmings stated, “When all kinds of oppression and marginalization becomes the order of the day, on any level within a religious community, then no true worship is taking place and the voice of the human becomes the voice of God. …The Scriptures indicate that true worship is not merely a ritual that takes place at a certain place and time. Rather it involves the outward expressions of a religious belief.”

Attendees also received copies of the U.S. Constitution and What is Patriotism by A.T. Jones. Each attendee expressed appreciation for the time spent.