On October 16, Geraldo Alckmin, governor of the Brazilian State of Sao Paulo, signed a bill passed by the state legislative body which officially declares October 22 of each year “Adventist Day.” The State’s new law is a recognition of the ongoing work of the denomination across the territory, which has made significant contributions to society in the areas of education, health, religious liberty, and social development.
The chosen date is significant for Seventh-day Adventists, since October 22, 1844, marked the day of what is known in Adventist history as “The Great Disappointment.”
Adventists in Sao Paulo
With 45 million people, Sao Paulo is Brazil’s most populous State. According to records within the Adventist Membership System, there are over 262,000 baptized Seventh-day Adventist members across the State, or one Adventist member per 172 people. The Central Brazil Union Conference oversees the work of the church across the State, and its territory is in turn divided into eight conferences.
Seventh-day Adventists in Sao Paulo are known as active Christians who do not hesitate to go beyond their church walls to meet people where they are, providing humanitarian assistance, health and educational support, and words of encouragement and hope.
Several Adventist-driven projects, including a partnership between the Church and the City of Sao Paulo’s government on the Winter Emergency Program, have gained media attention in recent years. The program provides winter clothes to people living on the streets of the City of Sao Paulo which has a population of 12 million. According to official estimations, there are around 25,000 homeless people in Sao Paulo, but local shelters have room for only 11,000. During the 40 days of the program, the Seventh-day Adventist Church provided basic healthcare to the homeless stopping by the official winter clothes distribution center.
Additionally, ADRA Brazil is currently involved in 24 projects, just in the State of Sao Paulo. ADRA is also prepared to provide emergency services when natural disasters affect the territory, as was the case when torrential rains flooded several Paulist towns in early 2016.
Religious liberty is another area where Seventh-day Adventists have contributed to Brazilian society. A Seventh-day Adventist coordinates the Religious Liberty Committee of the influential Sao Paulo Lawyers Association. A few weeks ago, Adventist members erected a support center to assist pilgrims walking dozens of miles along a major road as part of a religious festivity.
Though the “Adventist Day” bill was signed into law on October 16, 2017, it had been on the agenda of the Sao Paulo State Legislative Assembly since February 2016. The signed version was published in the October 17 Official Bulletin of the State government. The new law making October 22 “Adventist Day” has now been added to the official events calendar for the Brazilian State of Sao Paulo.
This article was written by Lucas Rocha and originally appeared on the EUD News website.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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