Current and Archived News Stories
By Jennifer Gray
From Oct. 20-23, 2016, Seventh-day Adventist attorneys from across the United States and Canada gathered for the SDA Attorneys Conference and Retreat in Henderson, Nevada.* More than 90 attorneys, along with family members, attended continuing legal education classes on topics such as attorney ethics and complex commercial transactions. The conference also included a judicial panel where Adventist judges provided observations from the bench. In all, attorneys were provided with more than 15 presentations to attend.
|At the SDA Attorneys Conference and Retreat, Phil Hiroshima (center) was presented with the lifetime achievement award for more than 45 years of service, including providing substantial legal services to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hiroshima is pictured here with GC general counsel Karnik Doukmetzian (left), Hiroshima's wife, Sachi, and NAD vice president Alvin Kibble.
Photo by Dan Weber
While the participants talked about the quality of the classes offered during the conference, the real highlight for many of the participants was the ability to meet other Adventist attorneys and spend a weekend in fellowship.
Orlan Johnson, North American Division (NAD) Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director and one of the coordinators of the retreat, said that the event gave attorneys the opportunity to not only learn more about their craft, but also to “meet more people who have a similar backgrounds . . . Just hearing those experiences is much encouragement.”
Johnson added, “Sometimes you’ll be thinking, Wow, I’m struggling with this from an Adventist standpoint, and then you realize there’s probably 500 other Adventists who have the same issue, and you can give one of them a call. [Cultivating] these types of relationships is important now, and will become even more important in the future.”
During the awards dinner, two attorneys were presented with special honors. Avis Buchanan, the director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, was presented with the public service award for more than 35 years of dedicated public service. Phil Hiroshima, a partner at the Hiroshima Daggett Law Offices, was presented with the lifetime achievement award for more than 45 years of service, including providing substantial legal services to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The Sabbath School study discussion was led by Pacific Union president Ricardo Graham. NAD president Daniel R. Jackson followed as the speaker for divine hour. And to close the Sabbath, NAD vice president Alvin Kibble led the vespers program. He reminded the attendees of the importance of Micah 6:8, “to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly,” which was a theme throughout the weekend.
In addition to this important message, Attendees also walked away with “a better understanding of the value and importance the legal profession may have on the work of the Church,” according to Josue “Josh” Pierre, an associate general counsel for the General Conference and retreat coordinator. Pierre also said that he believes that those who attended are “better acquainted with current events and current laws that may have significant impact on the operations and mission of the church.”
He said in an earlier interview, “I hope that we are able to forge stronger bonds and connections between the legal community, Adventist legal community. I think we may play a very vital role based on our understanding of prophecy, and I think there would be some value in forging those connections now.”
* This event was hosted by the General Conference Office of General Counsel and the North American Division Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty.
— Jennifer Gray is an associate general counsel for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; additional reporting by the NAD Office of Communication.