Reaffirming The Adventist Church's Response to COVID-19

Reaffirming The Adventist Church's Response to COVID-19

Dr Beatrice Kastrati

The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God." 

It strikes me as interesting that he puts two seemingly unrelated things – love and knowledge – together. To Paul, love is not simply a feeling, it is action. And it is not merely any random act of kindness, but action based on insight, resulting in righteousness, to the glory and praise of God!  

The second thing that stands out to me is that love, knowledge and insight are inextricably linked. There cannot be real love without knowledge. There cannot be real insight without love. He makes this abundantly clear in his letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If our actions do not reflect love, the knowledge and insight we think we have do not matter. Furthermore, if our actions do not uplift Christ, even if done in good faith and in love for our neighbours, they lose their meaning. E.G. White recognized this principle when she wrote, "Wherever the power of intellect, of authority, or of force is employed, and love is not manifestly present, the affections and will of those whom we seek to reach assume a defensive, repelling position, and their strength of resistance is increased. Jesus was the Prince of peace. He came into the world to bring resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. Wisdom and strength He could command, but the means He employed with which to overcome evil were the wisdom and strength of love"—Testimonies for the Church 2:135, 136 (1868). 

Now is the time to unite in love, and now is the time to turn our eyes upon Jesus! 

These are times of uncertainty with conflicting information and do's and don'ts. We can praise the Lord that He, in His wisdom, has given us the ultimate tool for discernment – love! Whosever promotes love and service to others, promotes truth. Whose actions result in love for their brothers and sisters, in comfort for the grieving, in healing for the sick, in visiting and helping those in need, glorifies Christ.  

We have a special calling in this world – we are called to proclaim the three angels message, and the health message as the right arm to the gospel is integral to our faith. At this point, we are very thankful for the continuous guidance that comes from our world church headquarters, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

I want to draw everyone's attention to precious advice from Spirit of Prophecy writings, "God will not work a miracle to keep those from sickness who have no care for themselves, but are continually violating the laws of health and make no efforts to prevent disease. When we do all we can on our part to have health, then may we expect that the blessed results will follow, and we can ask God in faith to bless our efforts for the preservation of health" (Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, p. 59). 

Indeed, as we are reminded in the latest article from the General Conference Health Ministries Department, "in the midst of this time of crisis and disruption the Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to the mission of lifting up Christ, His Word, His righteousness, and the proclamation of His Three Angels' Messages to the world in preparing people, through the Holy Spirit's power, for Jesus' soon coming. The health message is the right arm of the gospel and therefore a healthy lifestyle has been an important part of the beliefs of the Adventist Church since its early years and remains so."

In Paul's words, if we proclaim the health message without love, it is empty! We must humbly accept that God's health principles are a gift from God, they are His invitation to His throne of grace. In all humility, we are called to share His gift to His glory. We are not called to use it as a way to set us apart, to create discord, or to use it as an excuse to remain in our comfort zone, thereby excluding others. This is a sinful world, and we face adversity, illness, grief and loss – to the grieving and the sick, are we called to tell them, "too bad – had you adhered to the health principles, you would be whole"? 

In the light of the global magnitude of the pandemic – the deaths, disability, and long-term COVID-19 effects that are emerging in all age groups – the Adventist World Church encourages all members to consider responsible immunisation. While misinformation about the available COVID-19 vaccines abounds, the position of the Adventist church on the available research is clearly outlined, and based on evidence, research, medical practice and experience, bible study and study of the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. Vaccinations, including boosters and the flu shot, remain a personal choice but are the best way to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 infection. At the same time, we are all free to choose whichever way we want to prevent getting ill and infecting others. Widespread personal testing is available for free, and individuals may choose to submit to regular testing.  

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the UK is collaborating with the NHS to disseminate free lateral flow testing kits to all church and community members to ensure that all vulnerable, elderly, disabled or simply scared – can come to church and worship safely. Every church can sign up and receive free testing kits from their local council (please contact the NEC office for details). 

Safe behaviours include: 

  • Careful washing of hands with soap and water and using sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol when washing hands is not possible;
  • Covering of your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing; 
  • If you don't have tissue paper available, then use your arm or sleeve to cover your mouth and nose; 
  • Respecting personal space and maintaining a safe distance from others; 
  • Sanitisation of surface areas that are in frequent use (microphones, doorknobs, pulpits, piano keys); 
  • Ventilation of rooms; 
  • Wearing a mask during Sabbath School and when singing. 

More detailed information and practical guidance on Communion and offerings is available upon request.  

Safety measures to make sure everybody can come to church are not a personal choice. They are a courtesy and sign of respect and care. Meeting physically for church is vital for good mental health; we need to encourage everybody to come, provided necessary safety measures are in place. Some vulnerable members do not feel safe to go to church – the elderly, the disabled, children with chronic health conditions; yet, they must not be forgotten but be visited, encouraged and uplifted in prayer. We have lost countless loved ones, and many have lost hope.  

Ultimately, we are called to encourage, uplift, include, serve, and love! Whichever information we choose to believe, whichever choice we make – may it lead us to love and service! Then the King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40). 

For more information about the Adventist Church's response to COVID-19, read here.


Written by Dr Beatrice Kastrati 
(Director of Health & Possibilities Ministries, and Community Services)