Inter-American Leadership Looks to a “Brighter” 2018

Kebra Charles (left) and Abdias Armenteros of the Peregrinos Adventist Church in Miami, play during the first official work day to begin the new year at the Inter-American Division Headquarters in Miami, Florida, Jan. 3, 2018.  Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

January 4, 2017 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders and staff members at the Inter-American Division (IAD) Office in Miami, Florida, officially welcomed the new year with praise and worship during a special devotional program on Jan. 3, 2018.

The more than 75 church employees who oversee the growth of the church throughout the IAD territory took time to reflect on the past year’s blessings and contemplate on what lies ahead as they seek to inspire the fast growing membership across borders and oceans to spread the message of the Gospel in their communities.

Pastor Bancroft Barwise (right) treasurer of the Jamaica Union speaks during the worship service at the IAD. Pastor Gamaliel Flórez translates the message. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

“We must see what must be done in the fear of God and finish the work,” said Pastor Bancroft Barwise, guest speaker and treasurer of the Jamaica Union as the program began. “We must have a willing mind to work for God, make the proper preparations to finish what we have started and inspire others to work for God and reach the Promised Land.”

Barwise encouraged leaders to dedicate all their efforts to honor God so that He can continue equipping them for the task at hand. “When we see the state of the world today, we know that the Lord’s coming is soon, but He cannot come until we finish the work.”

Finishing the work means facing the challenges of reaching millions more with the gospel, keeping an account of members joining the church and managing financial stability of the church across the 24 major church regions with all the educational and medical institutions it operates.

Top administrators presented facts and numbers on the comparative growth of membership. As of September, more than 149,700 joined the church in the more than 20,000 congregations established across the IAD, reported Pastor Elie Henry, executive secretary for the church in Inter-America.

“One of the biggest challenges we have at this point is completing the auditing of our books in the territory to ensure that our numbers are true,” said Henry.

Currently, numbers reflect a membership of more than 3.7 million, a figure that has stayed in that range even after new members join the church, due to consistent auditing of membership books and still four unions need to complete their auditing in the system, Henry explained.

IAD President Pastor Israel Leito. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

“We are looking to a brighter year even with the financial challenges ahead but we are making plans to address the soft currencies that affect the financial state of the IAD,” said Pastor Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer for the IAD, before he proceeded a comparative report of the financial giving collected throughout the previous years.

Verduzco’s office has already reduced the projected income by 25 percent due to the hurricane and earthquake damage, which affected the financial belt of the Division last year.

Top administrators reported that with the exception of the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and El Salvador, which carry strong currencies, every other strong currency was affected.

“Projecting a reduction of 25 percent of the income is a wise decision,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America as he addressed the office staff. “With the decisions taken last year, it gives us certainty that we can brace this year without a problem.”

A total of 12 staff members ceased church employment last year, most of whom retired, said Pastor Leito. “They left us not because there were part of a plan to reduce staff, but they decided on their own to retire from church service.”

IAD staff enjoy the musical program during the special devotional. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Only a few of those positions were filled. Among those beginning their new positions this year and previously voted by the IAD Committee include:

Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary; Pastor Leonard Johnson, associate ministerial secretary; Elifelet López, assistant engineer for telecommunications and connectivity; and Donald Modeste, regional SunPlus director for the French territory.

It’s about moving responsibly, accomplishing more with less people now, said Pastor Leito. “I want you to understand that the Division is not in crisis, because sometimes that’s what some people say…the Lord is good,” he explained. “We have adjusted ourselves in such a way that we are expecting blessings as we head into 2018.”

“There are beautiful days ahead for the Inter-American Division as we continue trusting in the Lord,” Pastor Leito said.

IAD leaders will take the next four days to iron out evangelism initiatives, events and activities to take place during this year.

The Inter-American Division oversees the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, French Antilles, as well as Colombia and Venezuela. The IAD oversees thousands of churches, hundreds of schools and universities, and 14 hospitals in its territory.

For more on the church in Inter-America, visit us at

IAD leaders and staff pray for the work of the church in the new year. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

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Categories From the Headquarter, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on January 4, 2018