January 18, 2015 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division launched its Year of the Pastor with the ordination of some 100 ministers during territory-wide coordinated ceremonies across the region on Sabbath, Jan. 17, 2015.
Some 26 Adventist ministers from the Dominican Republic were ordained in El Palacio de los Deportes Arena in Santo Domingo–the hub of the live event–where thousands of church leaders and members witnessed the ceremony.
“We are launching this beginning of 2015 with this important ceremony because the Inter-American Division immensely values the work of its church pastors, their dedication, and the work of their spouses,” said Pastor Leito, president of the church in Inter-America as the program began. “It is very important to highlight that their ministry should take a special place throughout their churches and communities.”
Pastor Leito challenged ministers onsite and those watching the live program via the internet to double their dedication to the Lord.
“Understand that you are dealing with the people of Jehovah and your mission is to do everything possible for the salvation of souls,” said Pastor Leito. “Continue inspiring others to fulfill the mission of the church in your communities,” he added.
Adventist Evangelist Pastor Mark Finley, who led a massive five-day evangelistic series in the country from Jan. 7-11, encouraged ministers to carry on the ministry while understanding their calling, building a close relationship with Christ, saturating their minds with the Word of God, and knowing time is short in this world to prepare a people for the second coming.
“Your mission is not merely to watch over the saints,” said Pastor Finley. “Your mission is to inspire your people, train your people, help your people with the mission of reaching the world.”
Top church leaders from around the world, who had spent last week in the country to review and strategize initiatives for the coming months, placed their hands on the 26 ministers on stage as Seventh-day Adventist President Ted N.C. Wilson pronounced the ordination prayer.
“This is a historic moment here and around Inter-America today,” said Pastor Hector Sanchez, ministerial secretary for the church in Inter-America and organizer of the event. “These sacred ordinations will strengthen the church even further.”
Ordained ministers received special pins from church leaders as well as their spouses during the ceremony.
For Pastor Carlos M. Acosta, 35, of the Northern part of country, the service of ordination meant the world to him. “I wanted to become a pastor since the age of 14, and this feeling today is hard to explain. I’m so happy,” said Acosta, who graduated with a theology degree from Dominican Adventist University and has been a district pastor for eight years overseeing eight churches with some 400 members.
This ordination will strengthen his ministry, he added. “Now I can perform weddings instead of coordinating with ordained ministers elsewhere, which has proven to be challenging,” said Acosta. “It feels like the church can receive my full services now.”
With a family of two small children, Acosta took Pastor Finley’s challenge to heart to intensify efforts of ministering to church members who need to feel the urgency of the coming of Jesus and share the good news with others.
With 15 years serving as a district pastor, Teodoro Alcantara, 52, of the southeast region, was all smiles and reminisced about the calling he felt years ago when he was teaching business classes. “This was a special moment for me and my family,” said Alcantara, who pastors nine churches with some 300 members.
“I know greater responsibilities come with it but there’s nothing like ministering to others,” added Alcantara, who said he has brought about hundreds of people into church during this ministry.
Acosta and Alcantara are no longer among the 1,500 non-ordained ministers who pastor churches across Inter-America. There are 3,400 ministers in the IAD who oversee more than 20,000 churches and congregations.
“Our church is growing fast and it is necessary for all of our pastors to fully perform their responsibilities in ministering to the membership,” said Sanchez. There have been some ministers who have worked more than 10 years and have not been ordained for one reason or another, explained Sanchez. “We want this territory-wide event to be a reminder for church leaders in conferences and unions to review the work of non-ordained ministers and work towards ordination.”
Ordained ministers can perform all the official functions in their ministry like weddings, baptisms, and organize and dissolve churches, among other duties, added Sanchez.
According to Sanchez, some 110 ministers were ordained in most of Inter-America’s 23 union regions held special ceremonies on Sabbath.
Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, French Antilles, Venezuela and Colombia were among the regions participated in the territory-wide coordinated ceremonies on Sabbath. Some 30 ordinations took place in some unions, or regions of the IAD in previous weeks, said Sanchez.
In neighboring Haiti, church leaders ordained eight ministers at the packed Temple No. 1 Adventist Church in Gonaives, in the northwest region as they watched the online program.
The church in Guatemala ordained six ministers from across the country at the El Progreso Auditorium in Guatemala City, where 116 ministers and church elders gathered for the ceremony and watched the live program from the Dominican Republic.
Church leaders at the IAD will continue with special activities to celebrate the Year of the Pastor with the following upcoming events:
February 7: Pastoral Family Week of Prayer- beginning online from Miami, Florida.
March 28: Ministerial Council for non-ordained pastors – live online from Medellin, Colombia.
April 2: Ministerial council for theology students – live online from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
October 27: General Pastoral Council – live online from Miami, Florida.
To view photos of Inter-America’s Ordination Ceremony in the Dominican Republic, click HERE