Nearly 300 administrators and institution leaders from throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America gathered to define the future of the church for 2020-2025 and beyond, during a series of meetings began Sep. 6 to Sep 11, 2019, in Cancun, Mexico. Photo: Abel Márquez/IAD

September 7, 2019 | Cancun, Mexico | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division

Defining the future of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America for the next five years is the central topic for the week, as dozens of the top administrators across the territory meet in Cancun, Mexico. Nearly 300 church leaders representing the 24 unions, or major church regions, as well as 152 local fields, began a series of meetings starting on Sep. 6, 2019, to pray together, reflect on growth and make decisions to carry on the mission of better reaching more people with the gospel.

“We are here to define the path required by the church in Inter-America for finishing the task for 2020-2025 looking ahead,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America as he addressed church leaders. “It is important for us to understand and align our objectives and goals from the local church, local field, union and division so that each existing entity in the territory may be fully engaged to better contribute to the development of the wider organization.” The alignment Pastor Henry was referencing was the Adventist world church’s “I Will Go” mission strategic focus for 2020-2025.

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry outlines the objectives of the six-day meetings. Photo: Abel Márquez/IAD

The idea is not to do all the work of strategic planning during the next five days, said Pastor Henry, but to create a framework that will provide a good opportunity “to evaluate what we are doing, make sure our church members are involved in living the gospel every day.”

The meeting sessions will also be an opportunity assess the development of the church in evangelism, education, community service, stewardship practices and the financing of the mission of the church.

It’s about defining principles, defining clear goals and seeing how the church growth fits as part of the mission at every level of the church.

Church leaders pause to pray together several times on Sep. 6, as the sessions begin. Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD

Pastor Lowell Cooper, former vice president of the Adventist world church and keynote speaker, reminded church administrators of their purpose in aligning their energies with a defining and eternal purpose.

“The purpose of our reflection is to think about where we are going,” said Cooper. “If you don’t know your purpose in life, you risk being irrelevant, a hindrance rather than help.”

Cooper pointed to key points that the mission of God is the source for all church mission, that the mission of Jesus illustrates God’s mission, that God’s people must mirror His mission, and that the mission of the church needs thoughtful study and expression.

Keynote Speaker Pastor Lowell Cooper, former vice president of the Adventist world church speaks to the church leadership, Sep. 6, 2019. Photo: Abel Márquez/IAD

Cooper reviewed the mission statement of the Inter-American Division: “To glorify God, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, lead every convert to experience a personal and transforming relationship with Christ, enabling the believer to become a disciple in sharing the everlasting Gospel with everyone.”

“Remember the mission of God is of quality not just quantity,” said Cooper.

During the next few days church administrators and institutional leaders will look at challenges facing the church territory, establish principles to strengthen the ministry of the pastor, define clear goals regarding membership growth and retention, keep members active in the life of the church, strengthen the financial system of the church and more.

Adventist group called Yireh from southeast Mexico sings during the opening ceremony of the IAD meetings.Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD

Church leaders will also look at the nearly 100 years of Adventism in the Inter-American Division territory since it was established in 1922.

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