Response of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lithuania to Report of Cemetary Vandalism

Members and administrators of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lithuania join with their fellow-citizens in expressing shock and sorrow at the desecration of gravesites in the Joniskis cemetery. Seventh-day Adventist Christians, along with all people of good will, condemn such actions, which are in no way connected with our faith or practice.

Police in Joniskis have confirmed that teenagers were, sadly, involved in these acts. These young people were not and are not members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, although a local pastor had been working with these youths to encourage their moral reformation. After the transfer of that pastor earlier this year, contact with the youths was discontinued.

However, nothing can justify these actions, which are repulsive to people of good will. Adventists join with those who sorrow over the desecration, and extend our sympathies to those families.

Seventh-day Adventist Christians are exactly that: Christians, who uphold sound moral principles and practices. No services were conducted at the address alleged by police and in published reports. We do not encourage the kind of behavior that was sadly exhibited. Instead, our goal is to live in a manner worthy of the name “Christian,” and to live in peace and harmony with all people.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been active in Lithuania since 1919; worldwide, the church is present in more than 200 countries with a global membership of 14.3 million people. Our Church is active in public life, collaborates with other Christian denominations and non-governmental organizations in the areas of drug and alcohol prevention, is involved in charity work, promotes youth initiatives and actively and firmly speaks for the uplifting of Christian moral standards.

With this sad report, we recommit ourselves to such activities, and to doing all we can to avoid such incidents by becoming more involved with public life and our society.

This statement was voted during the Lithuanian Mission Field Administrative Committee extraordinary meeting on Thursday, September 1, 2005, in Kaunas, Lithuania.