There is a region in Italy called Umbria

There is a region in Italy called Umbria

Marko Hromis (left) with Pastor Gavrilita (credit: D. Sutera)

From a small and insignificant country church, disconnected from any outside help or assistance, the Adventist Church in Umbria has launched large and noble projects in the last year.

July 28, 2017 | Bern, Switzerland. | M. Hromis, EUD NEWS.

About one million people live there and it covers more than eight thousand square kilometres.
Perugia is the capital, including a medieval city, world famous universities and suburbs expanding from the Apennine mountains to the islands of Lake Trasimeno.

It is the land of thousand-year-old villages, blooming valleys, twisting hills, good food, infinite places to visit and a breeze that often smells like chocolate, thanks to one of the best-known confectionery factories in the world. For all these reasons combined, it is a region that enjoys good reputation but has also experienced the terror and destruction caused by the earthquake over the years, but has been able to stand strong with pride and determination.

Just a few metres from where the famous Perugina Kiss Chocolate is produced, there is an Adventist Church. The only church in the entire region with members living seventy kilometers apart yet get together once or twice a week, united by faith in Christ. It is the church of Perugia but it would better be called the church of Umbria.

This community church has men and women from at least fifteen different countries and the average age of the active members does not exceed forty.  Because of economic difficulty and high unemployment rate, they have gathered in a hall for over twenty years, but they have always cherished the dream of being able to have a big enough room to sit comfortably, eat around a table, have a separate place for children's activities and some corner where they can develop social activities tapered to the real needs of the city.

In addition to being an example of multi-ethnic coexistence, the Church of Perugia is known for its great number of children and young people, often forming very large Sabbath School groups. The recent choice to make them part of church activities, Sabbath worship and organization of various departments has added to the dynamics, openness, participation, colour and life.

In its history, the church of Perugia, like all the churches in the world, has lived through moments of strong growth and aggregation, but also, and above all, through difficulties and periods of disorientation.  Very profound and significant crises have in time weakened and reduced to a minimum, the capacity for renewal, change, experimentation and innovation. Over the last few months, it has taken a leading role in a period of bold awakening, with rich experiences in many new and exciting ways.

From a small and insignificant country church, disconnected from any outside help or assistance, the Adventist Church in Umbria has launched large and noble projects in the last year, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the bold guidance of young pastor Gavrilita and the commitment of many church members,

A section of ADRA was recently inaugurated, and within just a few weeks, with the help of the regional food bank, ADRA now feeds about fifty needy people including some Adventists.
A group of volunteers was formed and is regularly invited by local authorities and various associations to create Health Expos for adults and children, involving up to one hundred people at a time promoting health principles, which is an integral part of Adventist evangelism.  Friendship has been established and mutual co-operation with the city's institutions is so close that we received a free public space within a municipal park in order to better carry out our church activities.

At the same time, while waiting to raise enough money to buy a new place of worship, all the church members went to work with brushes, hammers, nails, wood and thousands of other tools to renovate the meeting room by transforming it from an impersonal and cold place to a small masterpiece of hospitality, worship and warmth. A place where it is great to organize youth gatherings, community festivals and moments of celebration.

Today, the Church of Umbria has many projects for the future, they want to tell their story to the city, serve the people, and in doing so, involve children and young people, the same ones that a couple of Saturdays earlier, after church filled the largest city park in Perugia with yellow balloons.  A unique occasion and appreciated by the families involved: a stop in a national tour organized by the Adventist Church to reach the main Italian cities with an educational topic camper to bring itinerant theatrical shows to the streets with the purpose of raising awareness on the evils of over-indebtedness and usury in the Italian society. Vignettes for adults and children with the message of how important it is to be conscious and responsible in using money to avoid falling into gambling and chronic indebtedness; which is happening on a massive increase and are crushing millions of Italian families each year.  This is an example of collaboration between the church and the local communities.

May God continue to bless the vibrant and colourful Adventist church in Umbria, give continuity in pastoral guidance, strength to the youth, wisdom and spirit of collaboration to the elderly. May all gaze up to heaven awaiting His soon return, then look down again trying to catch the eye of many friends, to proclaim the blessed hope and helping them in this life that is complicated but full of surprises and opportunities.

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