October 29, 2019 | Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Libna Stevens/IAD
Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders from throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) met today for the first day of its year-end annual business meetings in Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It is the first time that executive meetings of the church have gathered in the headquarter offices of the North Mexican Union. Dozens of church leaders gathered there to look at the year in evangelism growth, vote on intensifying initiatives and plans to impact every local church and its surrounding community for the coming year.
During his report, Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary for the church in Inter-America, said that the church in the territory keeps growing steadily thanks to God and His providence. The IAD membership still stands at a little over 3.7 million. “This is more than just numbers, it is about so many faithful church members spread out in 42 countries, organized in 24 strong unions,” said Johnson.
A total of 139,288 new members were baptized into the church so far with Haiti still holding the top spot for the largest membership among the unions with more than 480,000 members, followed by the Dominican Republic with more than 353,000, Jamaica with 319,000 and the Chiapas Mexican Union with over 252,000, reported Johnson.
“This year alone, 285 new congregations have been established up until June of this year, which means that an average of 47 new congregations were added every month from January to June,” he said. That growth is narrowing the member to population ratio to now one Seventh-day Adventist for every 59 people in the Inter-American territory.
There are now more than 23,000 churches and congregations organized in the 152 local conferences and missions across the territory.
The Belize Union of Churches was recently approved by the Adventist world church to upgrade to the status of union mission. As the Belize Union Mission the church will take the task of distributing its 133 churches and congregations into three mission offices in the central, northern, southwest regions in the country in the coming months, said Johnson.
Organized as a union of churches from a conference status in 2008, the new mission will function in rented offices until construction of the offices in the three new regions can begin, said Dennis Slusher, president of the church in Belize. “The church, all of us 47,356 members, is ready and excited to see this new organization of the church in Belize,” Slusher said.
IAD President Pastor Elie Henry congratulated church administrators in Belize for their commitment in seeing the church strengthened with its new status. “We are so glad to welcome you as a union mission and I know that the Lord will continue to bless and strengthen the church there,” said Henry.
Ongoing auditing of the member books at local church level revealed that more than 122,654 members were dropped from the records whether transfers out, dropped, missing or death instances, said Johnson.
Church leaders reported that 23 out of the 24 unions are active in the Adventist Church Membership System (ACMS) to account for its members. In addition, leaders reported that 49 Adventist volunteers from Inter-America are serving the world church this year and 25 volunteers from around the world are serving in the IAD territory. Leaders are looking to increase the number of volunteers serving in the territory as soon as next year.
Executive Committee members voted to adopt what is coined as Inter-America’s Year of Discipleship and Mega Soul Winning in 2020. The comprehensive initiative promises to mobilize the church at all levels to reach the goal of one million baptized members by the end of the second quarter in 2020. So far the church accounted for more than 800,000 new members since mid 2015.
“We intend to focus on five core values of discipleship which include [personal] devotion, fellowship, outreach, evangelism, and stewardship,” said Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism. “If we can get 80 percent of the members actively involved in pursuing daily life a prayer and study of the word, attending weekly worship services, in contact with others in outreach endeavors, faithful in funding the mission of the church and working together in evangelism we will see strengthen discipleship all across the church,” said Braham.
Pastor Braham outlined all discipleship activities and outreach through bible studies, lay evangelism campaigns, social media evangelism, and more, all integrated to mobilize 100,000 lay preachers and 300,000 bible instructors to double their efforts in preaching the gospel in their communities.
In addition, union church leaders voted to send at least two evangelists from their territory to impact the South Central American Union campaign efforts for two weeks prior to Inter-America’s territory-wide celebration of newly baptized members on April 4, 2020, through a live transmission from Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Church leaders got to look into what each union territory is doing as far as church planting, small group ministries, community impact and more through union reports. Authorized meetings and calendar of events were also voted in by the committee.
During a special ceremony, administrators from the North Mexican Union unveiled the name of its brand new meeting room. The room was dedicated to and bears the name of IAD Treasurer Filiberto M. Verduzco Ávila for his support to the development of institutions and for strengthening the church in North Mexico as well as his leadership and contribution to the world church.
Inter-America’s Year-End Executive Committee Meetings continue this week where members will vote policies, financial reports, additional initiatives and activities. For more, visit us at interamerica.org