July 24, 2019 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD
Hundreds of leaders from across all levels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America were called on to accelerate their leadership potential during the 3rd annual Segment Leadership Development (SeLD) program, held July 15-17, 2019, in Miami, Florida, United States.
The more than 600 administrators, pastors, educators, church elders, department heads and officers who gathered for Inter-America’s 3rd annual SeLD event were challenged to keep the organization they serve relevant and effective in fulfilling the mission of the church.
A mission to fulfill
“We have a mission to complete and we have to walk knowing where we are going and since we know where we are going, we must be prepared,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America. The church needs good leaders who can assist the growing 3.8 million church membership, spread throughout 24 unions and 151 local fields, to strengthen the church, said Pastor Henry.
“Our faithful membership is pushing the church towards victory, working together [with leaders] to represent Christ and expand His kingdom,” said Pastor Henry. “Continue being leaders who take this work to heart, serve the Lord with humility, always focused on the mission God has given us.”
Pastor Henry challenged leaders to “keep on building the Kingdom of Christ with the full commitment of continuing the work of God and see His soon return,” Pastor Henry said.
The three-day training themed “Accelerating Your Leadership Potential” featured more than 30 speakers and experts from the Adventist World Church, North America, and Inter-America.
The SeLD Conference was meant to help guide organizational leaders to develop their leadership capacity, expose organizational leaders to trends, issues and best practices in organizational leadership, and provide a forum for networking and cross-cultural exposure, explained Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president in charge of leadership development for the church in Inter-America.
“SeLD is not just for participants alone to put into practice,” said Braham, “it creates the platform for meaningful dialogue to take place across the entire division landscape on vital leadership priorities addressed during the conference.”
Braham explained that the church has to contend with varying perspectives and world-views in the area of mission fulfillment so it’s important for the church to continue investing in leadership development.
“Pre-millennials and millennials pose new challenges to the church leadership today through divergent practices and concepts and this places tension between them and those of the post-millennial mindsets both within and outside the church,” according to Braham. “Leadership practices cannot remain static and new approaches must be found to address the realities in corporate settings that bring about shared learning that can be contextualized and generalized.”
Glennys Lugo of Aruba is very clear about her mission. She heads the only Adventist school on the island and works as the education director for the Aruba Mission office.
As a principal of the J. N. Andrews Advent School with a staff of four teachers and 50 kindergarten and first graders, most of which are not Seventh-day Adventist members, Lugo said coming to the SeLD Conference for the first time inspired her to continue preparing children to be witnesses for Jesus.
“God has reminded me of what I must do and keep doing to become not so much of an intellectual leader but a spiritual leader as well, always relying on the Lord because it is His institution,” she said.
Lugo, 42, who is a mother to three children, has been managing the school for seven years, said she is so busy preparing the school to expand to a full elementary school during the next four year, said that attending SeLD gave her the push to better sort out strategies she needs to follow. She plans to keep connections with other teachers and principals from Jamaica and the English Caribbean territory she met during the conference, and transmit that knowledge she learned with her staff.
“I love what was emphasized during the training, that no one is the boss, we are all equals and God has put us in place to fulfill the mission of the church,” said Lugo. She does her part, along with the school staff, to promote a life of prayer every day at school.
A church elder
For Sydney Grant, 44, a church elder at the Clarks Town Adventist Church in North Jamaica, attending a SeLD conference for the first time after serving 18 years in that position, broadened his mind to how focused the leadership of the church is toward accomplishing the mission of sharing the gospel, whatever position they hold. “This has enlightened me so much, because your eyes are open to see the church at a wider scale and are able to get guidance on some issues that may arise.”
Grant is a mathematics coach who works for the Ministry of Education in Jamaica and keeps busy assisting his pastor who oversees four other churches in the district. He feels that preaching, visiting, teaching, and serving in the church requires the kind of perspective that must help him pace himself and not get consumed in all the work.
“It’s a full time job serving in the church,” said Grant, but one that is normal to him, he said, because he grew up in the church with a father who served as a church elder for over 50 years.
“I think it’s an honor to serve because it keeps my feet on the ground when challenges come up, but I know that it’s important to use my skills to ensure that the work is carried out.” Grant is part of eight church elders at his church who rotate among the other churches in his district to help shepherd the membership through visitations, bible studies and worship programs every month. He was reminded that keeping a balance between church work and family are essential for him as a husband and father of three, said Grant.
Grant, who was among 21 delegates from his conference, believes that the church as an organization will continue to move forward successfully while evaluating the work, and ensuring there’s more accountability among church leaders.
“As we look at the mission of the church, we need to ensure that each leader is transformed and each department works together to grow in our mission,” said Grant.
A conference treasurer
Samuel Britton, 60, from Panama, was recently appointed as treasurer of the Central Panama Conference. With vast experience as an administrator, not only in Inter-America, but as a missionary working in Cairo, Egypt, Britton worked to strengthen a center of influence and several other projects. In addition, he working three years in Istanbul, Turkey, doing ground breaking work with a dozen projects as well as heading as secretary-treasurer of the field there.
“Even if you have experience working in the church, leaders need to understand that there is a transition period that comes with any change of position,” said Britton. “It’s important for administrators or leaders to exemplify and be actualized in good business practices especially as the church moves forward.”
One of the many things he takes back home from SeLD is that each worker or leader is no more than a servant and it’s all about letting God use each one of His children to further the mission of the church. “It’s not about an executive responsibility but a spiritual leadership one,” said Britton.
Britton said he enjoyed all the internal control presentations and seminars specifically led by the General Conference Auditing Service and is thankful that the church is investing in leadership development training for administrators, educators, pastors, and church members who lead others in the church organization.
All delegates at this year’s SeLD conference were certified with 20 hours of continuing leadership education and those who also attended the previous two years were certified with 60 hours, said Braham.
Pastor Braham asked SeLD leaders to “stay engaged, keep us proactive and help us shape the future of leadership here in our division.”
SeLD delegates prayed together, attended general sessions and dozens of seminars on effective pastoral leadership and supervision, problem solving and decision making, strategies to grow finances in the church, dealing with critical issues and much more.
To view a photo gallery of the SeLD Conference, Click HERE
To view Inter-America’s 2019 SeLD Conference program,
Click HERE For English
Click HERE for Spanish
Click HERE for French