Pastor’s Corner: As Soon as I Read the Article…

Pastor Glenn DeSilva
Pastor Glenn DeSilva

As soon as I read the article, I knew I wanted to share it. Every month, I look forward to receiving and reading the latest updates from the global Adventist community in the Adventist Review. In the June 2024 edition of the periodical, the following article by assistant editor Beth Thomas entitled “The Power of Fellowship” immediately caught my attention. The subtitle only increased my desire to read the editorial “Combating the Epidemic of Loneliness.” If you have access to the magazine, please read the editorial or, better still, consider becoming a subscriber to the Adventist Review, where you have the choice of receiving the publication via a digital or hard copy option.

Beth Thomas begins her article with a quote from the current U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy, in which he warns listeners concerning an “epidemic of loneliness.”  The surgeon general says, “There has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individuals and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives.” Additionally, the following statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services were shared. “The physical health consequences of poor or insufficient connections include a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease, a 32 percent increased risk of a stroke, and a 50 percent increase of developing dementia for older adults (emphasis added).” Listen, friends, people were created for friendship, connections, and fellowship. The statistics are overwhelming that a lack of connection can harm one’s health and well-being. In our modern world, people seem to be more connected than ever before. Our connections are with screens, pads, and phones with our fingers typing and pursuing likes. This newfound connectivity results in people being more isolated from one another and lonelier than ever before.

Two portions of scripture found in Hebrews (3:12-14; 10:24,25) remind us of the importance of encouraging one another within the context of fellowship. In fact, the later text strongly encourages meeting and worship fellowship in preparation for the second coming of Jesus. I, along with Beth Thomas, believe that the modern-day “epidemic of loneliness” can be effectively addressed only through genuine human connection and fellowship. How do we take these biblical injunctions and turn them into practical directives on how to really connect meaningfully in ways that bring comfort, healing, and nurture to our lonely souls? The article concludes with three practical applications that hope to answer the cry for help: 1. Consistent church attendance, 2. Small groups, and 3. Outreach efforts. Once again, not to sound like a broken record, but “Sabbath School Alive,” when collectively received and collectively supported by our membership, becomes the three-in-one answer fulfilling the three-point list above. The goals of “Sabbath School Alive” seek to address modern loneliness, fellowship, caring, and ultimately sharing the Good News of Jesus by people who have been transformed by His life-changing grace.

As a church, we have an opportunity in the middle of 2024, with a new quarter approaching, to restart the dream of having Sabbath School become the heartbeat of Willowdale. Could it be that people will be drawn to our message not because we have all the right answers but because we love people in such a way that they feel valued, supported, and cared for? Please pray that we will catch the vision for “Sabbath School Alive.” Also, pray for the success of our upcoming VBS/X program. Finally, remember we have an important church fellowship date; our church picnic is scheduled for July 21 at Earl Bales Park. This gathering represents an excellent opportunity to come out and enjoy an afternoon of food, fun, and fellowship. Plan to be there! Maranatha.

Pastor Glenn DeSilva


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