The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian faith community distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath day of rest and worship, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and was formally established in 1863. The church came to Australia in 1886.
Much of its belief corresponds to common Protestant Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment. The church is also known for its emphasis on diet and health, its “holistic” understanding of the person, its promotion of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle.
With a world membership of some 20 million, it is the twelfth largest religious body in the world. Its operations include numerous schools, hospitals, businesses and publishing houses, as well as a humanitarian aid organization—the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). In its hometown of Sydney, it operates the Sydney Adventist Hospital.
What is today the Men of Hope began as the Parramatta, Seventh-day Adventist Men’s Choir in 1994 under the leadership of Robert Kokolich. Founding members include former Parramatta church leaders Pastor Roger Govender and Elder Tony James, along with church members Peter De Klerk, Tony Ramaci, and Michael Pupavac. Assistant group leader Rodney Jacobs, Reynaldo Cabote, Keith Masters, and Stephen Chakovan are some of the earlier members. A few years later, due to the relocation of many members, the group became inactive. In late 2010 it reformed as an acappella group of some 12 men, and then in early 2014 added an accompanist pianist.
It was at this time that the group rebranded itself as the “Men of Hope Sydney” with the purpose of more accurately representing its expanded mission and ministry. Thus, in April 2015, the group supported independent Seventh-day Adventist evangelist Pastor Stephen Jakovac in an evangelistic campaign in The Philippines.
The campaign, was held in Legaspi City in the Bicol Region, some 340km southeast of Manila. It was as a result of seeing some challenges facing Filipinos that the Men of Hope expanded its music ministry in something broader, and decided to support community initiatives helping the needy. One is the “Loaves of Bread” ministry, led by a youth group in Legaspi City, which feeds homeless people—mostly street children— in the city.
The Men of Hope is a picture of diversity. Its current membership of 21 is comprised of Australian citizens having heritage in ten different countries across five continents: Chile, Croatia, Germany, India, Italy, Mauritius, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Zambia. Only a quarter of its membership is Australia-born. They represent the congregations of different Seventh-Day Adventist churches, including Wahroonga, Toongabbie, NSW Central Coast, Fairfield, Castle Hill, Cooranbong and Waitara—in addition to the original Parramatta.