This spring, members of Southern Asian Seventh Day Adventist Church (SASDAC) celebrated 30 years of God’s faithfulness. “Everyone joined to embrace the history and celebrate what lies ahead,” said pastor Franklin David, “preserving memories of how the church came into being, what its early ministry looked like and how it has grown and changed over these 30 years.”
The celebration was meticulously planned, prepared and executed from selection of the theme, speakers, videos, music, invitations, hospitality and publicity. Almost every member of the congregation participated in the services during the weekend celebration. SASDAC children’s choir set the tone during the vesper service by presenting the song Happy All the Time. “The enthusiasm, with which they presented this musical number left no doubt that these children will one day carry on the ministry,” one attendee commented.
Dan Jackson, President of the North American Division, presented an inspiring sermon on Friday evening, which reminded the congregation of how God has blessed and prospered them in this beautiful edifice. “When buildings come up out of the soil, we must praise God for what He can accomplish through the generosity of church members,” stated Jackson. “We may be broken human beings, but God has not broken up with us.” He concluded his message by reminding the congregation of the hope found in Philippians 1:6.
The Divine Service began with a special feature presentation by SASDAC’s very own orchestra, followed by a processional of the church’s Pathfinders Band and Troupe, leading the dignitaries to center stage. Unity in diversity makes SASDAC a truly international and blessed church family. Much of this story is told in the “Parade of Nations Pageant.” The mosaic and vibrancy may even surprise some. SASDAC members representing 16 countries and 18 States of India marched down the aisle with their flags and banners in different national costumes and outfits. Whatever the ethnicity, all have a common identity as children of the same Heavenly Father.
US Senator for Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, was the guest of honor and expressed his great affection and connection to Southern Asian countries and the Adventist church, as he was born in an Adventist hospital in Karachi Pakistan.” The Adventist church got me off to a good start in life,” he said with a laugh. Van Hollen also spent several years in Sri Lanka and in India. In his speech, Van Hollen said, “This country is stronger because of the support of people that come from all nations.”He commissioned those in attendance to re-dedicate themselves to a tradition of religious liberty and continue to reach out to fellow human beings in the spirit of fellowship. The Senator also presented a commendation from US Senate honoring Pastor Franklin David for 30 years of dedicated services to the community.
In the early years of this church, people gathered in one spot to build a spiritual community, and together they formed a new home, but never lost sight of worship in their own native languages. Praising God in several language songs captured that feeling. The vibrant music, and bright colors united through worship, SASDAC will remain unified and diverse at the same time. Between each language group songs, the history, growth and progress of the church were featured in video clippings.
On Sabbath, Dr. Dave Weigley, President of the Columbia Union Conference, personally thanked and honored Pastor Franklin David and his family. Reflecting on the founding spirit of this church, he prompted of how powerful it is to dream. “Out of every vision of the past comes a celebration because God is with us,” said Weigley. “Without God we are the least of all people, but because the Lord loves all, He will keep His oath. We have a hope and a future and we have nothing to fear for the future unless we forget how God has led us in the past. He empowered the church to avoid pitfalls, and to focus on how we pass the torch of hope to young people, to keep it burning bright.”
As is customary with any celebrations, this anniversary event involved sharing of meals. Organizers stated that food is a wonderful way to introduce people to different cultures and embrace the reality of lives. A feast and banquet was organized, with food booths from different states of India to showcase the diversity of taste.
At 4:00pm a Celebration Concert was arranged, where SASDAC’s talented members performed musical pieces to commemorate the special event, each acknowledging how benevolent God has been to the church. That evening, church members slipped into costumes to spread a little cheer during Social Nite through special performances and acts. Social Nite concluded their incredible celebration with dinner, entertainment, a kahoot live quiz, distribution of goodies and a photo shoot. Members said they left feeling exhilarated from the eventful, spirit-filled and uplifting weekend which allowed the community to come together. They want to express their utmost gratitude to the organizers of the event to Pastor Franklin David for his commitment and dedication for shepherding this great church for the last 30 years!
Story by Praveenya Pallipamula, Church Clerk
More photos of the event can be viewed here.