Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry (3rd from left) answer one of the questions that came in during the online certification celebration program of more than 17,000 local church elders who completed the training across the territory in 2019. IAD Executive Secretary Leonard Johnson (left), Adventist World Church’s Associate Ministerial Secretary Jonas Arrais, and IAD Ministerial Secretary Josney Rodríguez (right) take part in the question and answer session on Feb. 15, 2020. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

February 17, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America celebrated the certification training of more than 17,000 local church elders across the territory during a special online program, on Feb. 15, 2020, from Miami, Florida, United States. The online program highlighted the success of the three-year-certification program, began in 2017, in an effort to train elders to be effective leaders in their local church and to offset the limited number of ministers available. In the Inter-American Division (IAD), one pastor will be assigned to an average of five or as many as 24 local churches.

The more than 17,000 church elders only represents the number of local leaders who completed the certification for 2019, and some 37,000 church elders are still registered under the first three-year level of the certification said Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary for the church in Inter-America.

“We are living, experiencing, and feeling the beginning of the most important transformation of the church as result of this certification program,” said Rodríguez. “We praise God for His blessings.”

Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary, reports that more than 37,000 local church elders are enrolled in the certification program throughout Inter-America. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Pastor Rodríguez reminded local church to undertand the times and focus on doing better work to protect, guide, and disciple God’s church. “The victory of the church rests on the shoulders of the local leaders of the church,” he said.  Rodríguez reminded church elders to let the Holy Spirit guide them every day in a spirit of humility and unity as they move forward in fulfilling the mission of the church.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry  encouraged church elders to get up and go with God’s mission as their goal just as the Prophet Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh. “Wherever you are, God is calling you to preach the everlasting gospel and tell the world that we are living in very special moments,” said Pastor Henry. He reminded church elders of the three major strategic issues the IAD is focusing on for the coming years: evangelism, education, and community service. “These are aligned with the Adventist World Church’s ‘I Will Go’ strategic plan for the coming years,” he said.

“It’s high time, it’s prime time, we have to go and proclaim Jesus, teach others the wonderful everlasting gospel and go into the community serving with love and compassion,” Pastor Henry said.

Pastor Jonas Arrais, associate ministerial association secretary for the Adventist world church, congratulated the IAD’s efforts in certifying so many thousands of church elders to strengthen local churches across the territory.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry calls on local church elders to get up and go doing God’s mission just like Prophet Jonah was called to do.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“The same struggles and challenges that pastors are facing are the same as the local church elders face,” said Arrais. “I want you to understand that you are [functioning] as local pastors in the local congregation.”

Arrais introduced his new book that he co-authored with his wife Raquel entitled “Joys and Challenges of the Pastoral Family.” He highlighted the need for local leaders to see their ministry as a team ministry with their spouses, embracing the calling, knowing their role, enjoying the ministry, and much more.

Church elders were also reminded of their role in seeing that membership statistics are accurate and up-to-date

Three unions that stood out for having the most local church elders certified in their territories included the Panama Union taking the top spot, then the East Venezuela Union and Chiapas Mexican Union, said Rodríguez.

Pastor Al Powell (left), youth ministries director and Abel Márquez (right), communication director at the IAD share an upcoming initiative to reach others by sharing Jesus called “Let’s Talk About Him” [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

The three-hour online program also featured video reports on outstanding churches across the IAD in evangelism activities, churches making an impact in their communities, and a Question and Answer session.

“Our main goal is to ensure that church elders are trained and work well together with pastors in teaching, ministering, preaching and managing at the local level, because it is the only way we can successfully take care of and disciple the fast-growing congregations  in Inter-America.”

To learn more about Inter-America’s Every Elder Involved certification program, visit

To view the online program,

In English, Click HERE

In Spanish, Click HERE

In French, Click HERE

Top news

Adventist Hospital in Mexico Bounces Back After Dozens of Employees Test Positive for COVID-19
President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes World Pathfinder Day
Adventist Music in the Caribbean