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Dr. John Graz with Masters-level theology students at the Adventist Campus of Saleve’s Faculty of Theology in Collonges sous Saleve, France.

Theology Students in France Learn the Fundamentals of Public Affairs

The innovative program aims to equip pastors with the skills to increase the church’s visibility and participation within local communities.

For the first time in its history, the Adventist Campus of Saleve’s Faculty of Theology in Collonges sous Saleve France, held an intensive one-week class on religious liberty and public affairs. The class, attended by thirteen masters-level theology students, was coordinated and taught by Dr. John Graz, who served for more than two decades as the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director of the Seventh-day Adventist world church.

The theme of the class, held during the final week of September, was “the church in the community.” Lectures addressed topics such as: relations with community officials; the state of religious freedom in the world; promotion of Adventist values in the public space; promoting religious freedom through events; methods for meeting officials; relations with religious leaders; and, Adventists and religious freedom.

The PARL manual Church Ambassador (which can be downloaded from this website) was used as a practical resource for students. Guests professors, public affairs professionals, and pastors involved in public affairs were also invited to speak to the students.

Dr. Luca Marulli, Dean of the Theology faculty and a supporter of the PARL program, said, “It is important that our ministers be able to meet officials in their community and make sure that the church is well known and useful for the community’s members.”

Jean-Philippe Lehmann, President of the Adventist Campus of Saleve, which includes the School of Theology, echoed these thoughts, saying, “We want to offer courses and resources on Public Affairs and Religious Liberty to our ministers and elders to help our local churches to be more visible and present in the life of their community. The proximity of Geneva and its world human rights organizations offers a large spectrum of resources.”

The Collonges Adventist Church, which is also the church of the Adventist Campus of Saleve, will hold its second Festival of Religious Freedom on February 4, 2017. The guest speaker will be Dr. Ganoune Diop, the currently serving General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director. A number of churches in Western Switzerland have also planned Religious Liberty Festivals, symposiums, and concerts as a way to build bridges with other religious groups and city officials.

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Public Affairs and Religious Liberty
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