On Tuesday, 2 May 2023, Seventh-day Adventists were among the faith leaders invited to a special tea hosted by Robert Voss CBE CStJ, His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire. The event was held at the Bhaktivedanta Manor, Aldenham, once a training college for St Bartholomew's Hospital, but famously purchased in 1973 by George Harrison and donated to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who continue to run the property.
The Lord-Lieutenant, who represents the Monarchy, was joined by a number of his deputies as well as the former Lord-Lieutenant, Dione Grimston, Countess of Verulam, and the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Margaret Elizabeth Green.
Addressing his fifty or so assembled guests, Lord-Lieutenant Voss explained that the event had been arranged as part of the celebrations for the momentous occasion of the coronation of King Charles III. "Faith is a central part of the King's priorities, and Hertfordshire's diversity is something to celebrate," he said. "I am inviting you to join me to see how faith leaders can form strong links to bring about change in our community."
Lord-Lieutenant Voss pointed out that, in his Christmas message, King Charles spoke of "...the extraordinary ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others and to shine a light in the world around them." Faith leaders have a unique role to play in fulfilling this vision.
Pastors Nathan Stickland and Jude Jeanville joined British Union Conference (BUC) Executive Secretary Pastor John Surridge in representing the Adventist Church. Together they spent more than two hours networking with other faith leaders. These included Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Methodists, and leaders from the Jewish (Orthodox and Reformed), Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist and Bahá'í faiths.
Also, present was Enoch Kanagaraj, a Seventh-day Adventist, who is the founder and CEO of One Vision charity. With many connections to local communities within Hertfordshire, Enoch has encouraged many such interactions between the church and community leaders. We are most grateful for his work in this area.
Speaking after the event, Pastor Surridge commented on the number of positive conversations he had had during the meeting. "I am constantly surprised by the warmth of feeling in the community towards Seventh-day Adventists. Many people know of our international humanitarian work and, here in Hertfordshire, the great work our local churches are doing." When asked what his highlight was of the day, he confessed that it was actually a classical performance on the sitar. "As a Beatles fan, I have to say there was something poignant about listening to a sitar being played in a manor house which had been purchased by George Harrison fifty years ago!"