Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) for the Seventh-day Adventist world church, recently returned from two major international gatherings: a meeting of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions held in Rome, Italy; and, the African Council of Religious Leaders, Religions for Peace which took place in Abuja, Nigeria.
He sat down with PARL Communication director, Bettina Krause, to talk about why he accepts invitations to represent the Adventist Church at these and many other similar events.
Bettina Krause: Your travel schedule is filled with a wide range of different meetings, including religious gatherings, events sponsored by international organizations such as the United Nations, and visits with secular and political leaders. Why does PARL engage with groups and individuals such as these?
Ganoune Diop: The first two words in the name of our department—“Public Affairs”—succinctly describes a core part of our mission. In all our activities, we seek to position the church to a standing of visibility, credibility, trust, and relevance in the public sphere. That means being prepared to share the mission and values of the Adventist Church with anyone, whether a public official or representative of another faith group. Our department here at the General Conference, and each PARL director in every world church division, has this responsibility of working to shape public perceptions of our church, and forming helpful relationships with people of influence in society.
This has become increasingly important with the rapid growth of the Adventist Church over the past two decades—more than 20 million members at last count—and as the church continues to expand the reach of its mission. With a growing presence in the world, we need to tell people who we are, rather than to rely on someone else’s interpretation. We want to introduce ourselves on our own terms.