January 30, 2019 | St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands | NCC Staff/IAD News Staff
Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists were commended and encouraged by Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America, as he concluded a three-day pastoral visit to the twin-nation island of St. Maarten earlier this month.
“I have enjoyed all the celebrations that revealed a church committed to the proclamation of the greatness of God…resilient members who came from adversity, strong in faith and works, a pastoral team very much engaged with the comprehensive mission of the church and very supportive leadership at the conference level,” said Pastor Henry of his Jan. 11-13, 2019, visit.
More than 800 members gathered at the Cole Bay Adventist Church, located on the Dutch side of the island. In attendance was Pastor Kern Tobias, president of the church in the Caribbean Union and Pastor Desmond James, president of the church in the North Caribbean Conference (NCC).
“I am happy to spend the time with God’s people here during my first visit since the hurricane of 2017 hit,” said Pastor Henry. “I am delighted to see the progress and the resilience of the people of God.”
The NCC territory was severely affected by Category 5 hurricanes leaving nine churches destroyed on the islands of Anegada, Anguilla, St. Eustarius, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Tortola. Church schools on St. Thomas, Tortola and St. Maarten still require extensive re-construction, church leaders said.
Reflecting on Jeremiah 33:6, Pastor Henry encouraged the constituency that God would come through for His people. “In the midst of disaster, God will one day restore all things, for God’s restoration is not an illusion,” he said. “The catastrophe will end in a wonderful way because God has thoughts of hope and peace toward us and an expected end.”
Pastor James expressed appreciation for Pastor Henry’s thoughts and prayers and reported that many of the members are still rebuilding from the effects of the hurricane. “Many are still displaced and dislocated but your message brings hope to the staggered members.”
Talk-Back Live with the Presidents
Pastor Henry took part along with Pastors Tobias and James to speak with the youth and young adults to discuss trending social and denominational issues during the church’s debut unscripted program called NCC’s Talk-back Live with the President.
The three-hour online event gathered more than 500 where the leaders fielded questions on women’s ordination, social issues, church structure and finances, as well as opportunities available for young adults to serve in church leadership positions.
“This is remarkable that our administrators are reaching out to Adventist young adults and asking for their engagement with church leaders,” one online viewer commented.
Pastor James expressed his interest in continuing the dialogue with the youth. “The plain and simple truth is you are needed, and you are wanted in the church. What we learn in these kinds of meetings does not go unnoticed. We look to see what the trend is of our church, and how we can also help.” James reassured young people that leaders look forward to hearing what they have to say. “We will try to bring that into our everyday life in our office as we move forward.”
After the broadcast ended, the presidents continued answering questions from the congregation. “I am very open to hearing your heart on this, so that we can consider what you have to say in more depth than we can afford, in terms of time, in a program like this,” said James.
Plans are underway for another live event and streaming with a Q&A segment.
Growth in the French part of the island
Pastor Henry’s visit also included leading an ordination service at the Bethel Adventist Church on Jan. 11. Hundreds gathered there to support the ministers who serve in the growing French communities on the island. A new congregation began worshiping as the Horeb Adventist company.
The pastoral visit also included a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Spanish congregation on the island.
“We want to let everyone know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is well implanted in our communities and nothing can stop it because God is in control,” said Pastor Henry.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North Caribbean conference has more than 15,000 members worshiping in 41 churches and congregations. NCC oversees the work of the church in the islands of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands (including Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda), United States Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas), and the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North Caribbean Conference, go to northcaribbeanconference.org