“Don’t fool yourself into thinking things are going to get better. Things will only get more complicated and confusing,” said Seventh-day Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson as he addressed top Adventist leaders in Inter-America Nov. 10 via Zoom. “This is what the Three Angels Message is about, calling people out of confusion, out of Babylon, out of chaos into a clear understanding that God has a plan for everyone if they will allow Him to work it out in their lives.”
Pastor Wilson made a clarion call to division, union, and institution administrators and department heads at the start of the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) year-end church business meetings, to be part of the last proclamation of the Advent movement.
“Spend time in the word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy, pray earnestly, help others to be pointed to the last amazing climax of earth’s history where God’s people will be tried in the fire like never before,” said Pastor Wilson. The pandemic is just a wake-up call that reminds every believer to be ready for what’s to come, he added.
Back to the basics
“It’s time for us to get back to the basics,” said Pastor Wilson. He urged leaders to fix their eyes on Christ, His righteousness, and proclaim the everlasting gospel to everyone, everywhere. He also reminded administrators that they are not to be misled into thinking that they are the head of the Adventist church wherever they lead. “Jesus is the only head of the church and we are His facilitators, at His service.”
He explained that now more than ever leaders and members need to be completely committed to the last-day proclamation of the message of the gospel.
“The time has come to be serious, even more serious than we have been about the wonderful mission entrusted into the hands of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” said Pastor Wilson. “You are not just another denomination or a church or a humanitarian church or another nice-sounding group of people who provide some kind of assistance. You are part of a unique people group outlined in Revelation 12 who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus, faithful to God’s Word and this great mission entrusted to you.”
Simply put,“You are here to tell people Jesus is coming soon,” he added.
During his devotional message, Pastor Wilson expressed his deep sorrow and sent condolences to victims of the natural disasters in the IAD territory, especially those affected by Hurricane Eta in Central America.
Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America, asked the nearly 200 executive committee members to take part in sessions of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Eta across Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Cuba, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and even parts of Mexico. Prayers were also offered for the hundreds of victims of the pandemic in Inter-America so far.
In his report, IAD Executive Secretary Pastor Leonard Johnson thanked division, union, local field, and local church personnel for their dedication and commitment to accurately reporting on membership growth and service in the territory.
As of the end of the second quarter of 2020, the membership total stands at 3,678,220, a reflective loss of about 30,000 members from 2019, he said. With new baptisms, members added through the profession of faith, and letters of transfers received, the total came to 110,671. However, adjusting for deaths, those who left or were dropped from the membership rolls, the figure came to 140,759.
“We are very saddened and concerned about this,” said Pastor Johnson. Numbers are consistently being reported, he said, the membership audits are in place to underscore the reality that leaders may not like but he said: “We must account for every member, and we must strive to retain our members.”
The loss figures were really concerning to pastor Juan Caicedo, president of the church in South Colombia. “This is of great concern to me, it drives me to think on how to review and adjust our strategic plan to have more practical plans for our pastors and our laypersons to ensure we can retain members better,” said Caicedo. “We need to have more intentional elements in place to evaluate and project where we need to be going to be more effective in the retention of members.”
Retention action plans will be reviewed before the end of the business meetings in two days, said Pastor Henry. “The goal is, as church members join the church, to stay active in readiness of the coming of Jesus and we have several points on our agenda to address that.”
Pastor Johnson reported that 69 new congregations were added so far this year, compared to the 393 congregations organized in 2019, a significant decrease this year, mostly attributed to the issues due to the pandemic. In addition, his report included figures on the number of Adventist Volunteer Services and International Service Employees currently in service, unions on board the Adventist Church Management System, and more.
During the meeting, executive committee members were also briefed on the action plans of the I Will Go Inter-America evangelism initiative. Over the next two days, leaders will review the specifics of the initiative, specifically in the areas of community service and education. I Will Go mission plan will be officially voted this week and implemented across the IAD territory during the next five years.
The agenda for the meetings also includes voting on new policies, financial reports, and reviewing additional initiatives and activities. For more, visit us at interamerica.org