November 18, 2018 | Petionville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America will focus on increased evangelism efforts, intense community outreach and will heighten education training across the territory during the next two years, top church leaders said. Dozens of the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) executive committee members voted to align their efforts on these three main strategic issues in their respective regions as the second annual business meetings concluded in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last week.
“We must move forward together with these three main priorities in the coming years because our church continues to be a movement that is proclaiming the good news of salvation, so evangelism is what moves us,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America as he spoke to top church administrators. “We cannot have a strong church if we do not ensure that there is education, formal and non-formal, for our young people and all church members.”
To achieve that total member involvement requires a personal and individual transformation made possible through the transforming power of the Lord, pursuing joint efforts from leaders and members at all levels through integrated efforts within all the departments and ministries to do good in the community, explained Pastor Henry.
“We must work together with young people, laypersons, educators, chaplains, colporters, health professionals, with all of our institutions, hospitals and all to work to honor God and reach our goals.”
Centers of influence
Among the large initiatives voted during the two-days of business meetings included one that will see special offering funds go towards 13 of IAD’s universities. Committee members voted to request the General Conference for the 13th Sabbath offering scheduled for the second quarter of 2021, for a special project. The offering would be used for a project that would involve the 13 institutions of higher learning in the territory to establish a center of influence to help improve the quality of life in its surrounding community.
“It is understood that the project would include both professors and students, with missionary activities being the core of the operations of the centers of influence,” stated the vote. The IAD would advance the funds to the participating institutions during 2019 and 2020.
Pastor Henry said the large center of influence project in each university will encompass evangelistic, educational and community impact in a comprehensive and intentional way across the territory.
Evangelism efforts will double as leaders, pastors and active church members will work toward reaching a baptismal goal of more than 200,000 new members—a goal that has not been reached for over a decade in the IAD.
Pastor Balvin Braham, field secretary and assistant to the IAD president for evangelism and leadership development, reported that the projected baptism goal from 2015 to 2018 was set for 760,295 new members. The actual number of persons baptized as of September 2018 is 713,530.
“We can be satisfied that we are on target to realize the baptismal goal for this quinquennium, which is to reach 1,100,501 by June 2020,” said Braham. With the estimated population in the IAD territory being more than 308 million, the challenge continues to be large, added Braham. The current IAD membership stands at about 3.8 million.
Missionary book distribution
Publishing Ministries reported that more than 10 million missionary books will be distributed across the territory in 2019 from both publishing houses. Next year’s missionary book is entitled “Hope for Today’s Families”, written by Willie and Elaine Oliver. It is set to for distribution on world literature distribution day on April 21.
In the Chiapas Mexican Union, the church is planning to distribute two million copies in communities in April, doubling the amount distributed this year, said Ervin Gonzalez, publishing ministries director for the church in Inter-America. The Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union plans to distribute one million missionary books and the South Colombia Union more than 800,000 books.
Reconciliation and Discipleship of former members
A practical guide to reclaim all missing members through a number of church activities was voted among top union administrators and members of the committee. “We must look into training members on how they can reclaim all of our missing members,” said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath school director for the church in Inter-America.
The guide emphasizes conversion as an act of returning to God and the church, examines the function of love in the conversion of former and active members, focuses on the stages of reconciliation and gives practical instructions on how to implement a ministry of reconciliation for former members, explained Telemaque.
Equipping the pastor
Inter-America’s ministerial association is providing the Logos software support tools for 1,000 of its pastors annually in a special agreement that will enhance the pastor’s study of the Bible, sermon preparation and academic research. “Pastors will have access to the electronic library with a collection of books to improve their preaching,” said Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary for the church in Inter-America.
The ministerial association will coordinate with the unions the amount, payment processes and distribution of the software packages. Plans are for more IAD pastors to have access to the Logos software in the near future.
Upcoming events and meetings scheduled include:
Executive committee members also voted on upgrading three missions to conference status. The new conferences are located in the Caribbean, Panama and Cuba unions. Union leaders will adopt the “I Will Go” strategic focus of the Adventist world church for 2020-2025, as well as a number of other programs and activities. Union leaders also reported on outstanding evangelism activities, challenges they faced and community impact during the year, and more.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America initiatives, plans and activities, visit us at interamerica.org