09 Nov 2019 | Royston Philbert
The Agape Seventh day Adventist Church, on St. Thomas, joined with the world to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.
The church’s event was coordinated by Sister Joelle Peterson, the Women’s Ministries Director of the church, and her team. Members were encouraged to wear pink in support of individuals at various stages of the cancer journey, toward awareness and wholeness. Sister Peterson indicated that the activities were planned to be in solidarity with members of the church and community who are undergoing cancer treatments, as well as to honor families grieving for loved ones who died from complications due to cancer.
Each year, the church plans a very engaging event. This year’s initiative was the first community outreach planned in collaboration with the Women’s and Health ministries of the church. In 2018, Dr. Cassandra Whitaker was the featured presenter who empowered the church with vital information.
The pastor of the congregation, Pastor Danny Philip, explained that the church’s effort in 2019 facilitated community involvement. He shared, “It was so wonderful to be able to support our sisters and families and share with our community concerns for the many who are struggling. Many of us know someone who has breast cancer, has recovered from cancer, or has relatives or friends with the disease - so it was an activity that was embraced by so many in the church.”
Sister Peterson urged the congregation to become more caring and members responded positively to the information. She reflected, “The church has lost many sisters to this illness and the fact that it is so prevalent in almost every family needs to move us into reaching out more as Christians.” The church lost one of its prominent young people, Shirley Fleming, two years ago to breast cancer and, even today, many still feel a sense of emptiness due to her absence.
During the Sabbath School worship, Sister Peterson spoke about the importance of women to the life of the church. She stated, “They make up the majority of the church membership. As such, you have to invest in their longevity. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is one of the main causes of death among women, 30 years and older. There are approximately 252,710 new diagnosed cases of breast cancer every year in the United States, so it is very important to remind women to be vigilant about the disease. Sometimes we can hide inside the circle in which we are praying, because of shame or denial or guilt. But, women who have gone through this disease know how it affects their psyche, their entire life, so prayer is an important part of not feeling alone, being supported.”
The Agape Church is one of six Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) congregations on the island of St. Thomas. Nestled in Bolongo Bay, the church has more than 200 active members, a vibrant youth ministry program and services which benefit the community. The church is shepherded by Pastor Danny Philip who also leads the Cruz Bay congregation on St. John. Together, they comprise SDA District #4, St. Thomas-St. John.
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