18 June 2012 Tirana, Albania [Julian Kastrati, tedNEWS] Dr Bertil Wiklander, the President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division, held an official meeting with the Honorable Mr. Aldo Bumçi, MP, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports in Albania. He was accompanied by Dr Reinder Bruinsma, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Belgium and Luxemburg; pastor Leo N. España, President of the Seventh-day Church in Albania; Pastor Julian Kastrati, Executive Secretary of the Seventh-day Church in Albania; and Beatrice C. Kastrati, Director of ADRA in Albania. Minister Bumçi thanked the guests for the role the Seventh-day Adventist Church has played in igniting and enriching the spiritual awakening of the Albanian people, following four decades of a repressive and atheistic communist regime. “I take the opportunity to express our gratitude to your church and its humanitarian agency, for their 20-year contribution to Albanian society at large”, said Mr Bumçi.
Dr Wiklander complimented Mr Bumçi and the Albanian Government for the exemplary freedom of conscience level as well as the admirable inter-faith harmony existing in Albania. He then proceeded by briefing the Minister about who Adventists are how their fundamental beliefs, including the Seventh-day Sabbath, are based solely on the Bible. In this context, Dr Wiklander presented to Minister Bumçi a special edition of the Thomson Study Bible in the Albanian language, which the Minister accepted gladly. Dr Wiklander also assured Mr Bumçi of the willingness Adventist Church to engage in dialogue and have good relations with all other denominations present in Albania.
Dr Bruinsma highlighted the significant contribution that the Adventist Church has made worldwide towards the promotion and fostering of religious liberty. He made a kind suggestion to Minister Bumçi regarding the prospect of him participating as one of the main speakers in an international religious liberty conference, which Mr Bumçi not only agreed to, but rather positively asked in return: “why not host [the conference] in Albania?”
On behalf of ADRA Albania, Mrs Kastrati informed the minister about the considerable contribution of ADRA Albania, as the first non-for-profit organisation that entered post-communist Albania, in various relief and development efforts and projects since 1991. She shared more information about the latest project relating to the civil society empowerment such as Roma people inclusion and integration, as well as community service.
Pastor España kindly notified the Minister about the Sabbath jubilee event, as he made an exposé of Adventism in Albania, with its roots going back to the 1930s. He reassured Mr Bumçi that Adventist pastors and lay members are committed to serving the Albanian people and praying regularly for the country’s authorities, as the Holy Bible counsels to do so. Subsequently, Pastor Kastrati thanked the Minister for the excellent relationship that the Church in Albania has with the country’s Regulatory Body for Religious Denominations. In this context, Mr Bumçi asured the guests that the above mentioned Regulatory Body will continue to advocate on behalf of the Adventist Church’s priority needs in Tirana and throughout the country.
In closing, Mr Bumçi was presented a joint certificate of appreciation by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Albania and ADRA Albania in recognition of his contribution to religious liberty and promotion of humanitarian faith-based values for the Albanian people.