In Inter-America, Thousands of Sabbath School Teachers Trained, New Discipleship Plan Set in Motion

Camille Ayala, Sabbath school director for the church in Puerto Rico shows off a certificate of excellence for overseeing the certification training of 438 Sabbath school teachers and officers across the island, during a special online celebration on Feb. 24, 2018, in Miami, Florida. More than 30,000 Sabbath school teachers were trained during a comprehensive initiative across Inter-America to empower them in the task of discipling members in their class for mission outreach. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

February 28, 2018 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

Sabbath School teachers and officers who serve in more than 22,000 churches and congregations all across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America were reaffirmed of their vital role in discipling students and members during an online event held on Feb. 24, 2018.

Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

The six-hour Sabbath School Online Congress event, which took place in Miami, Florida, celebrated the culmination of thousands of certification trainings, which began early in 2016, and highlighted the purpose of the school in the life of the church.

Sabbath School is about nurturing members with the study of the Bible and their responsibility in mission outreach in the community, leaders said.

“You are what the church needs today, Sabbath School teachers changing the lives of their students to help them understand the purpose God has for them,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, as he addressed the thousands of teachers viewing the live program. “As Sabbath School teachers, you must not simply show off what you know but also guide members to learn about Jesus and help them see that God wants to transform their lives to make them better persons,” he said.

It’s about a transformation through a prayerful life and study of the Bible, which is what the Sabbath school is all about, said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director and organizer of the congress. “We want Sabbath school members to enjoy salvation now and live by faith in readiness for the coming of the Lord.”

Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director for the church in Inter-America. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

More than 30,000 Sabbath school teachers and officers completed the certification program in their local districts and fields on subjects such as how to be a good teacher, how to prepare to teach others, how to improve Sabbath school, best counsels on Sabbath school, and more. They received certificates of completion during the live ceremony.

The congress was meant to affirm Sabbath school leaders and teachers and help them recognize that they are important and that the church is investing in and empowering them with skills to do the work, said Pastor Telemaque.

Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted Wilson congratulated the thousands of teachers during the program through a video message and reminded them that Sabbath school can be a powerful tool in the hands of skillful, dedicated leaders and teachers as they go about their God-given responsibilities. “One of the most important responsibilities is to give a strong emphasis to the study of the Scriptures among all age groups…how important it is for training and equipping each member for a dynamic, mission filled Christian life.”

It’s about creating an environment of discipleship, said Telemaque. “It’s also about creating an environment of trust, grace, humility and affirmation to enlist, develop and empower members to become disciple makers.”

From left to right: Pastors Samuel Telemaque from the IAD and Ramon Canals, Adventist world church Sabbath School director, Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Organizers wanted to focus more attention on what the church throughout Inter-America has been emphasizing on during the past two years: Redirecting Sabbath school back to what it was originally intended to do nearly 150 years ago.

Sabbath School Objective

Adventist World Church Sabbath School Director Pastor Ramon Canals spoke during the live program and reminded viewers that the main objective of the school is to make disciples through prayer and the study of the Bible. The Sabbath school, he said, is there to focus “on communion with Jesus, fellowship with one another, and engage in the mission of reaching out to the community and the world. That’s the foundation of discipleship and an opportunity we can never miss.”

Sabbath School provides a lifelong cycle of learning from the cradle to the grave, said Canals. “You must make Sabbath school what God wants Sabbath School to be about…each member to instruments in the hands of God for winning souls.”

For people to be good instruments of God, time must be dedicated to studying the bible lesson study guide every week. Study guides are available every quarter for children, young people, and adults.

Dozens of Sabbath School teachers from El Salvador hold their training certificates on Sabbath, Feb. 24, 2018. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Author Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Bible study guide, said the guides expand on bible texts and it is meant to guide the teacher in helping people to see the reality and character of God as revealed in His Word.”

Jackie Smith, assistant director for Sabbath school and personal ministries department at the Adventist world church, spoke on the new children and youth bible study guides which are scheduled to come out in 2020. The lessons follow a brand new Sabbath school curriculum focused on key passages and stories with emphasis on the gospels, Adventist beliefs, and bible memorization.

A Learning Center

Sabbath School is unequivocally a learning center to make disciples that in turn go, teach, and baptize like Mathew 28:19 commands, said Telemaque. Based on the new paradigm in Sabbath school throughout Inter-America, the plan is to target three groups of members: former or missing members, new members and active members.

“We are serious about reclaiming hundreds or thousands of missing members and strengthening newly baptized members, moving them from conversion experience to growing in Christ to an engaging one and equipping them to become disciple makers as well,” said Telemaque. “Active members can be further engaged in mentoring other members to be disciple makers.”

Dr. David Siguelnitzky, president of Herbert Fletcher University reports on the nearly 100 leaders who completed the advanced Sabbath school certification. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

For Inter-America’s 24 major church regions, the live event gave them an opportunity to highlight the commitment of training thousands of teachers and officers to better serve the church and reach out into the community.

Telemaque reported that more than 7,000 new believers have already joined the church in the past two years as a direct result of the ministering work of Sabbath school classes. The goal for the quinquenium, or five-year period, is 16,000 to be reached in 2020, according to Telemaque.

Graduation ceremony

Top church leaders congratulated each union leadership during the live program as they reported how many Sabbath school teachers were being certified that day throughout thousands of churches.

Gustavo Menéndez, Sabbath school director for the church in Guatemala, reported that 3,685 teachers were certified across the 971 churches in the country. It took 20 hours of training that was usually done in one weekend or in the space of two weekends per district, per region, he said.

“We have known that Sabbath school is the heart of the church but we have not taken good care of that heart, so this training brought more awareness and focus on its role as a mission center of the church as well,” said Menéndez.

Leaders at Herbert Fletcher University, Inter-America’s online educational institution, also presented certification to nearly 100 students from 21 countries who completed the advanced Sabbath school certification program online. The courses included mechanics of online education, discipleship formation, the learning process and learning style in Sabbath school, and the teaching methods of Jesus.

Pastor Gustavo Menéndez, Sabbath School director in Guatemala was congratulated for the 3,685 teachers who were certified in Sabbath school training. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

The newly trained leaders will take their learned skills to further educate Sabbath School teachers across their local regions.

13th Sabbath Offering

The live program also highlighted the upcoming 13th Sabbath offering on March 31, which will go towards expanding Southeast Adventist Hospital in Mexico, finishing a new church building on the campus of the University of the Southern Caribbean in Trinidad, and a new university church at Antillean Adventist University in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

In addition, children from across the Inter-American Division recited memory verses and study lessons during the program. An interactive lesson study was featured, as were video reports from the territory, and more.

Inter-America’s Sabbath School Department will continue to focus during the next few weeks and months on teaching new skills on how to restore former members to fellowship, how to effectively reach new members, how to mentor active members to become disciple makers, and more, Pastor Telemaque said.

Group photo of the delegates and participants during the Sabbath School Online Congress. Image by Abel Márquez/IAD

To view Inter-America’s Sabbath School Online Congress, you can view:

English HERE

Spanish HERE

French HERE

To see a photo gallery of the event, click HERE

This post is also available in: French Spanish

Categories From the Headquarter, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on March 1, 2018