Through the door… of the Seventh Day Adventist church Croydon

By - Wednesday 15th March, 2017

Continuing ‘Through the door’, the Citizen‘s occasional series about faith communities in Croydon, a member of the Seventh Adventist church writes

Photo author’s own.

Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the esteemed US Medal of Honour, is someone that has inspired his fellow Seventh-day Adventists for the past eighty years. Now, through the powerful medium of Mel Gibson’s blockbuster film, Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond Doss has become a household name for his remarkable courage, compassion for his fellow men, strong convictions and an unshakeable confidence in God under the most gruelling circumstances.

Seventh Day Adventists believe that Jesus Christ wants Christians to serve their communities with a passion and devotion similar to that of Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge, doing whatever they can to make a difference to people’s lives. The problems that concern most communities today include such matters as violent crime, sexual and substance abuse, neglect of the elderly and so on.

What are the Adventist churches in Croydon doing to meet these concerns? We currently focus on three areas of influence: spirituality, vitality and service.

The key to wellness is a life of balance and temperance

Adventists firmly believe, along with many other Christians, that the most powerful agent of social change is enhanced spirituality. The more that people have their spiritual and ethical values revitalised, the less antisocial their general behaviour will become. This is why the church places strong emphasis on bible study, prayer, fellowship and regular worship.

Vitality means that we believe that the key to wellness lies in a life of balance and temperance. Nature provides a wealth of good things that can help us to lead vibrant, healthy lives. Coupled with regular exercise and the avoidance of harmful substances that may injure our bodies and impair our judgement, these things will clear our minds and help us to make wise choices.

To facilitate this vitality in the community at large, West Croydon Adventist Church holds several ‘health expos’ each year at a selection of large community fairs. At these events there is always a number of health professionals ready to do a variety of free health checks such as blood pressure checks, body mass index checks and other assessments.

We regard Saturday as the biblical day of worship

Image by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, used with permission.

Service is last but not least of the three. The six Seventh-day Adventist churches in Croydon host over a thousand members each week and are located in Croydon Selhurst, West Croydon, New Addington, Pollards Hill, South Croydon and Thornton Heath (this branch is Luganda-speaking). Each congregation meets on the Sabbath (Saturday, regarded by us as the biblical day of worship) for a service, after which the churches will often offer a light lunch. We are a very international church and our members come from all over the world, especially Europe.

The plight of rough sleepers in Croydon was well covered recently by Lynne Hale’s article in the Citizen. It is a community concern that is shared by the members of the Croydon Selhurst Adventist Church, which holds a community kitchen for rough sleepers and anyone experiencing difficulties on Tuesday evenings (6:00pm – 8:00pm). The purpose of the kitchen is to provide a three course meal and a warm place to make friends, play games, be encouraged and feel accepted – without bible studies, long prayers or sermons – just with lots of love and good warm food!

Yes, the Adventist churches of Croydon have lots to offer in service to this community and further afield. For instance, there is the internationally acclaimed, award winning Croydon SDA Gospel Choir that is often seen on the BBC programme Songs of Praise. You will often find its members, or choirs from some of the other local Adventist churches, bringing comfort and cheer to the residents of our community’s old people’s homes or singing at a community event in the area.

Adventists do their bit to make the world a kinder and better place

If you enjoy a marching band you won’t have to look far in Croydon, because most of the local Adventist congregations run Pathfinder Clubs where these are a regular feature. These clubs are safe and stimulating mixed gender havens for our community children and youth (similar to the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts), where badges can be earned and skills learned, along with the enjoyment of adventure experiences like camping and hiking.

There are lots of ways that Adventists do their bit to make the local community and the world a better, safer, kinder place – too many to mention them all here. There is one, however, that you may have even supported yourself: the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Each year it holds an appeal for funds to assist the needy both here and abroad. Last year many members of our Croydon community supported the appeal and their donations helped ADRA-UK improve the lives of close to a million people living in poverty, while bringing relief to a further 75,000 who became victims of disaster somewhere in the world.

Well, you’ve probably seen Hacksaw Ridge and got to know one of our heroes, Desmond Doss. Hopefully, you now know a bit more about your local Adventist friends and neighbours too.

Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald

Paul is a man for the people. Married to Linn, with a daughter Rhiannon, the majority of his life has been living and working in Croydon. As well as enabling the In A Spectrum group, he has spent thirty years working with adults with learning disabilities, eight years with 2Eden, a local vegetarian society group offering free lunches and cooking lessons and has recently become an elder in the Hackbridge SDA church. Paul believes that: "Croydon is the best place to be, half way between the city and the sea".

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