Celebrating Sabbath at Adventist Medical Center

Whether you’re a patient, family member, or on-duty employee, Adventist Medical Center (AMC) in Portland, Ore., strives to make the Sabbath hours a special and memorable time for all. From singing bands to worship services to flowers and Bible verses, employees and volunteers take time to infuse a peaceful and calming Sabbath atmosphere throughout the facility.

Outreach Through Song and Worship

On select Friday nights, Cliff Turner, a long-time employee of the hospital, and other members of his singing band help usher in the Sabbath at AMC by delivering inspirational music right to patients’ bedsides. The group is just one of the events that signal to patients and employees that a very special time has come. Likewise, the angelic voices of nurses can be heard serenading new mothers and their babies every Sabbath morning in the hospital’s OB unit.

“Our patients really appreciate and enjoy having our nurses sing to them,” said Sofia Costas, RN, director of the Family Birth Place. “And for those who are working on Sabbath, it offers a reminder that the day is special and different from the others.”

AMC also offers Sabbath services in its chapel that typically consist of singing, spiritual thoughts and social interaction. Patients, family members, and employees are all welcome to attend. The hospital also provides worship services on its mental health units. For patients who are unable to attend these programs, the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church’s service is broadcast live throughout AMC.

In addition, hospital volunteers pass out roses and Bible verse cards to every patient every Sabbath. They are ready and eager to offer an explanation about the blessing of Sabbath, pray with a patient, or simply offer a smile or kind word.

Commitment to Sabbath Blessing

Making Sabbath special at AMC is a commitment that begins behind the scenes. It starts with emphasizing the importance of Sabbath to workers, encouraging them to be both creative and diligent in facilitating an environment that brings a Sabbath blessing to others, and giving them the necessary tools to do so.

AMC, like other Adventist Health hospitals, has established practices for Sabbath keeping and trains its leaders on the Sabbath’s meaning, principles for keeping the Sabbath, and creative ways to do so within a health care setting. Each hospital manager receives a copy of the book Positive Spiritual Emphasis, which serves as a guide to spiritual culture, practices and beliefs, and highlights specific Seventh-day Adventist doctrines and philosophies. In addition, every new employee receives an introduction to the Sabbath and the hospital’s practices via AMC’s The Spirit of Love video.

“At our hospital, we minister to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit,” said Deryl Jones, president and CEO of AMC. “We believe that Sabbath observance is a wonderful way to promote spiritual rest and healing, and that’s why we’re committed to ensuring that it is a blessing to our employees and patients.”

System-wide Mission Education

In addition to each hospital’s Sabbath guidelines and practices, Adventist Health has instituted a system-wide Mission Education Program. The program, which has been featured at AMC on several occasions, contains a special section on the Sabbath. The educational unit includes a history of the Sabbath, Biblical teaching about the Sabbath and historical sources for Sabbath keeping. It also highlights guidelines for Sabbath keeping in Adventist Health hospitals and how the day can be a blessing for employees, patients, and visitors.

“Through our Mission Education Program, we continue to promote the wonderful truth that the Sabbath is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind,” stated Wayne Judd, assistant vice president of Mission and Planning for Adventist Health. “As Seventh-day Adventist health care providers, we are called upon to share this blessing with all those who pass through our doors.” •