In Inter-America, Church Leaders Honor Church Elders, Report Growth and Vote Initiatives

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Three of Inter-America’s dedicated church elders stand with IAD church leaders after being honored by executive committee members during Inter-America’s Mid-Year Executive Committee held in Miami, Florida, May 1, 2017. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

May 3, 2017 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America concluded its first business meetings of the year by praising the work of thousands of pastors, church elders, and laypersons in expanding the membership throughout the territory.

Dozens of executive committee members from the Inter-American Division (IAD) and its 24 union administrative offices met in Miami, Florida, on May 1, to a approve initiatives, activities and policies, and commit to nurturing the spiritual health of its constituents and motivate them to spread the gospel.

Elder Joseph Griffin of the Caribbean Union is pinned for being an outstanding church elder for more than 59 years by IAD Treasurer Filiberto Verduzco. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Honoring church elders

The IAD Mid-Year Committee honored three of the top church elders representing thousands more church elders in the English, Spanish and French territory. Elder Armando Hernández was honored for his 62 years of service in North Mexico, Elder Joseph Griffin for his 59 years of service in the Caribbean Union, and Elder Wilmer Bastien for his 45 years in Haiti.

“We want to recognize you for your outstanding and faithful work as church elders,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.  “We recognize your hard work in serving to lead in spiritual matters under the direction of church pastors.”

Pastor Leito, who credited his formation as a minister partly because of the direction and guidance of several church elders early on in his pastoral ministry, said the recognition goes out to the more than 30,000 church elders in the IAD who help shepherd the flocks alongside local pastors in the more than 21,000 IAD congregations.

Elder Armando Hernández of North Mexico is hugged by Pastor Israel Leito, IAD president after being honored. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

“Your influence, your way of serving, your way of reaching the hearts of men and women in need of God’s love and reassurance is invaluable,” added Pastor Leito.

IAD’s Ministerial Association leaders reported that since the Every Elder Involved initiative—a comprehensive certification program with three levels of training and developmental skills elders focused on spiritual emphasis to strengthen the ministry of elders in preaching, pastoral roles and discipleship.—began earlier this year across the territory, more than 13,000 church elders have enrolled and completed the initial 20 certification hours throughout seven unions, or regions.

According to Pastor Josney Rodríguez, associate ministerial secretary, the plan is to have 70 percent or approximately 21,000 church elders in Inter-America finished with the first level of certification by the end of the year.

Committee members voted to celebrate the Day of the Elder or Elder’s Day on Feb. 17, 2018, with an online training program to launch the second level of the elder’s certification program.

“We are extremely thankful for the dedicated work of church elders who voluntarily serve as lay leaders and shepherd God’s flock,” Rodríguez said.

Committee members during the May 1 meeting. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Secretariat’s Report

IAD Executive Secretary Dr. Elie Henry reported that 2016 saw 110,863 new members join the church, totalling a membership of 3,726,412, as of Dec. 31.  That growth represents a three percent growth in membership compared to average growth of five percent between 2000 and 2005.

The decrease in growth is due to the aggressive initiative of local churches auditing their books, explained Henry to the committee.  Losses of members including deaths, dropped, missing, and adjustments totaled 69,222 for  December 2016.

So far, 19 of the 24 unions are registered in the Aventist Church Management System with 19,204 churches auditing their books which includes 2.3 million members in the system already. “This represents great progress since we started with the membership audits just a few years ago,” said Henry.

The IAD has 140 local fields, and by the end of the year that amount will rise to 150 local fields, reported Henry.

Treasurer’s Report

Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer for the church in Inter-America, reported that although the impact of the various soft currencies across the territory has affected a reduction of income for operations, church members continue to be faithful in giving tithes and offerings throughout Inter-America.

FIliberto Verduzco, IAD treasurer reports on the financial behavior of resources coming into the church. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

“We are witnesses year after year how the Lord has blessed this Division and provides resources for the fulfillment of the mission,” said Verduzco as he presented the financial behavior of incoming funds during 2016 in comparison with previous years.

“There has been a gradual increase in missionary offerings,” said Verduzco. “The church member in Inter-America is giving much more today and it is wonderful to see how they believe in missions, and expansion of the church.”

Verduzco shared with committee members that in order to strengthen the financial environment of the church, it is important to look at the church member.

“We need to invest all resources possible in spiritually feeding, and nurturing the church member, because it is through them that funds are channeled to finance the church,” explained Verduzco. “Sometimes, we invest resources in x,y, or z and we forget where the funds come from—these are generated by the influence of the Holy Spirit in the member.”

The treasurer’s report indicated that as of March 2017, the IAD had an operating capital of 208 percent and liquidity of 215 percent.

Verduzco reminded church administrators of their responsibility in managing finances in the church, and reviewed recommendations by the General Conference Auditing Services of church organizations and institutions audits done in 2016.

Committee members reviewed actuarial study of funds and voted to change the name of the IAD’s retirement plan to the Employee Benefit Plan.

Pastor Leonard Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union follows the reading on the church’s statement on transgenderism. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Transgenderism Vote
Committee members read and voted to accept the church’s statement on transgenderism approved by the Adventist World Church’s Spring annual business meetings vote of April 11.

Evangelism Best Practices Summit
A vote was taken for each union to conduct an Evangelism Best Practices Summit, to enumerate evangelistic methodologies being utilized in various districts, local fields and unions across the Division territory. The summit will help evaluate and identify methodologies that can be implemented to win and nurture members within the faith and soul-winning. The summits will be held two selected days between Aug. 2017 and March 2018, and will include union administrators, local field presidents, evangelism leaders, pastors, and lay preachers, among others.

Stewardship Ministries – Holy Convocation Conferences
Two regional one-week-long meetings will bring pastors and stewardship leaders together for the purpose of training and spiritual renewal of the group and the local church members in a specific area. Daily activities include personal devotional time, group worship, exercise, training seminars, and visitation of members in their homes with a specific, tried-and-tested stewardship agenda, as well as revival preaching in the local churches in the evenings by the pastors.

Holy Convocation conferences will take place in Mexico City, January 27 to February 3, 2018, and one in San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 21-18, 2018.

Belkis Archbold, health ministries director announces the outstanding unions actively involved in the church’s initiative Let’s Move to Live. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Publishing Ministries Council
A special publishing ministries council for the Inter-American Division, North American Division, and South American Division was voted to take place Aug. 26-30, 2018, in Cancun, Mexico. The event will see publishing ministries directors and church administrators trained to further strengthen literature evangelists in fulfilling the mission of the church.

Recognition
Eighty-three pastors from across the IAD who baptized more than 200 new members during 2016 were mentioned and were awarded portable overhead projectors for their lay member teams.

The Atlantic Caribbean Union, Chiapas Mexican Union and El Salvador Union were recognized for involving all of their local fields in the Let’s Move to Live initiative where church members and friends took part in organized walks in different churches and communities in October 2016.

To learn more about Inter-America’s programs and initiatives, visit us at interamerica.org

Visit our photo gallery of the meetings HERE

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Categories From the Headquarter, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on May 3, 2017