Religious Liberty

This seminar will feature three religious liberty themed presentations from physician, Dr. John Shin; attorney, Amy Ratsara; and Pastor Mark Howard. The five-part seminar will conclude with two panel discussions involving the presenters and two additional panelists: Joe Reeves, editor of InVerse, and Jasper St Bernard, a doctoral student attending the University of Memphis. The panel discussion will be hosted by Andy Im, Religious Liberty director for the Michigan Conference.

Session 1

Adventists, Politics and the Final Crisis

In light of the political controversies that have divided many Adventist churches, this seminar will address the underlying issues regarding our rights as citizens, our duty toward the government and one another, our involvement in politics, and our unique role in prophecy.

Session 2

A Breach in the Wall? The Separation of Church and State Today

One of the pillars of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution embodies the principle of the separation of church and state. In recent years, that principle has been challenged. This seminar will examine the meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, how they are currently being interpreted by the highest court in America, and how this compares with our prophetic understanding of end time events.

Session 3

Science, Vaccines, and Religious Liberty: Thinking Critically in the Pursuit of Truth

In this seminar, Dr. Shin will address the issues of vaccines and religious liberty that have deeply divided the church. Rather than giving you a fish by telling you WHAT to think, the goal of this seminar will be to teach you HOW to think and to provide you with some tools that will enable you to better evaluate the evidence for yourself. Through this process, Dr. Shin’s primary aim will be to restore a spirit of love and respect in our discourse so that we can still maintain unity as a church even if we do not achieve uniformity in our beliefs.

Session 4

Religious Liberty: Did You Just Say That? (Part I)

Listen in on the discussion as the panelists engage and discuss challenging religious liberty topics that are impacting the Seventh-day Church today.

Submit Your Questions

Session 5

Religious Liberty: Did You Just Say That? (Part II)

Listen in on the discussion as the panelists engage and discuss challenging religious liberty topics that are impacting the Seventh-day Church today.

Amy Ratsara

Amy Sheppard Ratsara is a practicing attorney in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned a B.A. in History at the University of Michigan, and completed both her law degree and a masters in History at the University of Virginia. Her interest in religion, law, and government has been lifelong, and she enjoys egaging her faith with her professional expertise. Outside the law, Amy enjoys reading, watercolors, walking in local parks, and has recently taken up sourdough baking. She has served as a GYC Board of Directors member since 2008, and serves on several other ministry related boards. Amy also collaborates with 4 other women on the Instagram project @someadventistwomen, where they explore how Adventism intersects with different aspects of every day life. Her husband, Moise, pastors the Kalamazoo Seventh-day Adventist Church and Kalamazoo Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Company. They have two boys, 5 and 2, who keep them on their toes.

Mark Howard

Pastor Mark Howard is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He currently serves as the associate director of the Sabbath School & Personal Ministries Department of the Michigan Conference. Pastor Howard is known for his clear, compelling presentations and his passion for the Adventist Message.

John Shin

Dr. John Shin graduated from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did his Internal Medicine residency and Hematology/Medical Oncology fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Following this, he completed a fellowship in cancer immunotherapy at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Shin currently works as an Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology at Loma Linda University, and he has a burden to share Christ with cancer patients. He is also the President of the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN). Because Dr. Shin believes the best way to restore health is to follow God’s laws of healing, his research focus is on immunotherapy clinical trial development and the effects of lifestyle interventions in cancer treatment. His wife Elisa is a dentist by training, and they are blessed with three children: Sophia, Charis, and Kyle.

Andy Im

Andy Im is the Religious Liberty and Communication director for the Michigan Conference. He is happily married to Laura and enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two daughters, Olivia and Karis.

Jasper St. Bernard

My name is Jasper St. Bernard. After Bible working for several years in Central Wisconsin I moved south to Tennessee to attend graduate school. I am currently pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. I continue to find ways to build bridges of dialogue between the life and teachings of Jesus and philosophical thought. When I’m not studying my wife and I continue to attempt to shepherd our wonderful children through their last days in high school.