Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry (center) points to a question on the floor as Pastor Leonard Johnson (right) IAD executive secretary presents items during the church’s first day of the Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings, in Miami, Florida, United States, April 29, 2019. IAD Treasurer Filiberto Verduzco (left) looks on during the business session. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

April 30, 2019 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

Top administrators and leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) began their mid-year annual business meetings this week. They are reviewing membership growth figures and voting major evangelism initiatives and activities that will multiply efforts to finish strong next year as the five-year period ends in July.  The dozens of executive committee members rubbed elbows, heard progress reports, and took actions in the packed church’s headquarters in Miami, Florida, Apr. 29, 2019.

“Inter-America ranks the third largest in membership among the (13) world divisions,” said Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the church in Inter-America, as the meetings began.  “That means IAD represents 17 percent of the world church membership.” In previous years, Inter-America ranked the largest, he said, but the church has remained third for some years now.

The church currently stands at 3,787,546 members who worship in 22,816 churches and congregations across Inter-America. These churches are operated by 150 local conferences and missions overseen by the 24 major church regions, reported Pastor Johnson.  In 2018, 172,142, new believers joined the church and 335 new congregations were organized. But he said there’s more to conquer in large cities and every one of the 42 countries and islands in Inter-America.

Pastor Elie Henry, president for the church in Inter-America, chairs the executive committee and comments on the membership growth. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

It’s about doubling efforts in the areas of evangelism, education, and community service, the three main priorities IAD President Pastor Elie Henry and the leadership set in motion six months ago.

“We must move forward together with these three main priorities because our church continues to be a movement that is proclaiming the good news of salvation,” said Pastor Henry.

Department heads took the time to highlight how ministries have been working in a more integrated way to engage church members in fulfilling that mission of sharing the gospel wherever they are.

The Year of Discipleship and Evangelistic Mega Reaping 2020

It’s that plan of integration that moved the leadership to create an initiative called “The Year of Discipleship and Evangelistic Mega Reaping 2020.”

Top church administrators listen in to reports during day one of the annual business meetings, Apr. Photo by Keila Trejo/IAD

Among the objectives of the initiative include achieving at least a 70 percent of members of the church to experience a personal revived and transformed life in Christ, fully involved in mission outreach within their local communities, as well as achieving the discipleship and evangelistic goals set for 2020.

The initiative will include the equipping of 3,000 pastors to conduct effective evangelistic campaigns, training and deploying 100,000 lay preachers, training 300,000 lay bible workers, and training church members in discipleship and the retention of their fellow members, said Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism.

“We must collaborate to reach or even surpass the one million new members during this current quinquennium,” said Braham. Braham reported that in 2015 that goal of one million was set and as of this year, the number of newly baptized members has reached over 800,000. Leaders will meet several times during the coming months to ensure that plans and initiatives are put into action.

Departmental and ministries directors at the Inter-American Division prepare to report on activities, trainings and events that support the three major strategic priorities the church has been endeavoring since last year. Photo by Keila Trejo/IAD

Important evangelism initiative dates include:

An Online Evangelism Conference for all church and district pastors to engage in evangelism objectives for the year 2019-2020, will be held June 4, 2019. The event aims to motivate pastors for soul-winning and church growth initiatives strategies to follow. The program will be streamed live at webcast.interamerica.org

Fall Evangelism 2019 will feature women and children ministries evangelistic efforts celebrated during a special live program on Oct. 26, 2019, from Medellin, Colombia. Unions all across the IAD will also celebrate on the special as the initiative takes place across the territory. The Fall Evangelism 2019 is part of the activities leading up to the evangelistic mega harvest campaigns set for 2020.

Inter-America’s annual “Lord Transform Me” Baptismal celebration April 4, 2020 – Will celebrate the culmination of a series of evangelistic campaigns during territory-wide baptismal ceremonies will take place throughout the IAD, and the hub of the online program in Costa Rica.  More than 10,000 evangelistic campaigns are planned to take place throughout Central America and 5,000 community projects as well.

As 2019 and 2020 will see a discipleship emphasis, missionary packets to train church members in discipleship has been prepared by the personal ministries department. The packets will consist of 11 pamphlets and Bible studies to be used in missionary and evangelism schools and will be provided to unions to print in their respective territory.

Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism, presents the evangelism and discipleship program to be carried out. Photo by Keila Trejo/IAD

Church leaders also voted to approve following events for 2019:

Online Youth Certification for youth ministries directors at union, conference/mission levels as well as pastors and administrators, will take place May 22-23, 2019, from Miami Florida.  The program will be streamed live at webcast.interamerica.org

Hope Channel Inter-America Production Advisory for a select group of production personnel across the IAD will be held Nov. 4-5, 2019, in Miami, Florida. Advisory meetings will include practical sessions and planning of integration projects.

News Summit Advisory for a select group of journalists and experts across IAD unions, conferences and institutions will be held Nov. 6-7, 2019, in Miami, Florida. The meetings will include training sessions and will seek greater collaboration and cooperation envisioned by the Adventist Church on a global scale for the next few years.

The Society of Adventist Communicators of the North American Division is extending invitations to attend the annual convention to take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 17-19, 2019.

Pastor Jorge Atalido (right), president of the East Venezuela Union prays with a his fellow administrator Pastor Luis Paredes, executive secretary during a session Apr. 29 ,2019. Photo by Keila Trejo/IAD

Executive committee members also prayed for the numerous evangelism initiatives and voted to train thousands of pastors, elders, chaplains, youth, teachers, and lay preachers in certification programs. One mission was reorganized from a mission to conference status, additional events for 2020 were voted, as well as project plans to establish centers of influence across 10 Adventist university campuses in Inter-America.

To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America and its initiatives and events, visit interamerica.org

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