June 2, 2013 – Miami, Florida, United States…Libna Stevens/IAD
Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders unanimously vowed to raise the bar on training active members across the more than 11,000 churches and congregations in the Inter-American Division (IAD) during the coming year. The declaration came about as executive members voted to make 2014 a year focused on non-formal education for lay leaders, during day three at the conclusion of its business meetings held at the IAD Headquarters in Miami, Florida, on May 29, 2013.
“In Inter-America we feel the weight of responsibility as to what it takes to lead an educative church and that’s why we have designed it so that next year everyone of our church leaders can be adequately trained in their ministry,” said Dr. Gamaliel Florez, education director for the church in Inter-America.
The plan includes every department’s special curriculum program that will provide the skills necessary to equip each lay leader to lead in specialized ministries, explained Dr. Florez.
According to Dr. Florez the focus will be more of a unified aggressive certification strategy than what departments have offered its leaders in their ministries in the past.
Each trained leader will receive a certificate during a massive territory-wide graduation celebration in October of 2014, church leaders said.
Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, challenged executive committee members to join forces throughout their territories on this initiative.
“We must help our members see how they can participate, what they can do to finish the work of sharing the gospel so that the church in Inter-American can be a stronger church and be better equipped for Jesus’ soon coming,” said Pastor Leito.
IAD Executive Secretary Dr. Elie Henry reported that more than 3.7 million members are registered church members throughout Inter-America and efforts have begun on auditing church memberships with the Adventist World church’s membership management system. In addition, leaders are working on updating the more than 22,000 church employees throughout its regional offices, hospitals, universities, schools and all operated organizations into a specially designed software program.
Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of the church in Inter-America, reported on the previous 23 years of financial stability the IAD has enjoyed – even with weakened currencies in the territory.
“The financial behavior of the IAD marches in the assurance that God is with us,” said Verduzco as he reported that a 10 percent increase in tithe has been evident this year as compared to 2012.
“What we know for sure is that our Inter-American church members are generous and show their commitment to the mission of the church because they have a deep relationship with God and we thank the Lord for that,” added Verduzco.
Verduzco also informed the committee that there are 589 entities throughout the IAD that are scheduled to be audited and that close coordination with the General Conference’s Auditing Service is in effect to begin the process during the next three years.
During day two of the executive meetings, two of the present 22 Inter-America’s champion lay evangelists led the executive committee meetings for 90 minutes. It was a historic moment that showcased the value placed on the leadership of the laity throughout Inter-America, said Pastor Leito.
Alejandro Tamay of the Southeast Mexican Union acted as the chairperson and Jose Luis Rosales of Honduras Union as the secretary of the committee. It was an unforgettable experience for Tamay to lead the executive meetings.
“What a magnificent experience to be here and been given this opportunity and see how the church is run at this level” said Tamay. With 17 years as a lay leader, Tamay, age 61, serves in the 180-member Adolfo Lopez Mateo Adventist Church in Quintanaroo, Mexico, as an ordained elder, personal ministries director, and small group leader. Tamay appreciates the partnership between pastors and laypersons and sees it as inseparable team.
“The layperson is an icon in the church to reach the objectives set out by God and by our leaders,” he said.
Both presided on issues on the reorganization of the publishing ministries, book of the year for 2014.
Leaders voted on a number of issues and initiatives including:
Publishing Ministry New Model
A new publishing ministry model document was voted to continue during the two-year study administrators and regional leaders have been studying to increase the enrollment of active colporters, or canvassers, across the Division. The new model features a four-part working group including the publishing department, the publishing house, the colporter and the pastor. Leaders will strategize during an upcoming Publishing Ministry Summit Aug. 19-21 to finalize the role of the publishing ministry department and the publishing houses in recruiting, nurturing and keeping colporters as integral members in spreading the Gospel. The summit will then submit its recommendations to the executive committee for final implementation in October.
Book of the Year
Leaders voted to make the book “Education” by Adventist co-founder Ellen G. White as the book of the year next year. The plan is to make the book available to every church member for free or at a low cost in English, Spanish and French.
Comprehensive Centers of Comprehensive Ministries
Executive Committee members voted to adopt the proposal from Adventist world church’s Office of Ministerial Secretary entitled “Centers of Comprehensive Ministries” where every local field is to establish such center in each city and large town.
The center will provide “combined compassionate initiatives to contribute to the state of social, physical, mental and spiritual well being of individuals within the community,” says the statement. Committee embers approved to adopt the recommendation of the operation of the center, training of experts and volunteers to manage the center, financial implications, and more.
Church executive leaders voted to use the title “How Great Thou Art” as the theme for the IAD to use during the upcoming General Conference Session in 2015.
A number of policies were amended, strategic planning recommendations accepted and status changes of missions into conference status.
Department directors also reported on initiatives and activities implemented last year and upcoming ones in 2014.
A number of virtual councils by education, youth, and stewardship ministries were voted to take place in the coming year, among others.
Upcoming major events include the Publishing Ministry Summit, Aug. 19-22, in Miami, Florida, Chaplaincy Ministry certification program Oct. 13-18 in the Dominican Republic, and the IAD’s Bible Boom Dec. 5-8, 2013, in Cuba.
To view a list of upcoming IAD events, click on the Events Calendar here