“Identity and mission” was the theme of the International Theological Symposium, which had the virtual participation of more than 15,000 pastors, leaders, elders, and members of the Adventist Church at the beginning of November. Promoted by the Adventist Church in South America with the support of the organization's world headquarters, the event was also attended by participants from countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as from other regions of the globe.
Renowned scholars gave the lectures, covering topics such as Adventist theology, eschatology and prophetic gift, creationism, etc. The program's objective was to reaffirm the identity and mission of the church according to its prophetic role.
“In such a liquid world, where the lack of identity affects the way of leading, worshiping, preaching, and educating the new generations, it is very important to emphasize our identity as a church; our theology, our prophetic essence, and the sense of mission that we should have,” points out pastor Lucas Alves, director of the Adventist Ministerial Association at the South American level.
Dr. Elias Brasil, who heads the Biblical Research Institute at Adventist world headquarters and was one of the speakers at the symposium, sees the event as very timely for the current context, since “never before has the church been so subject to the challenges of culture, with a series of social and philosophical movements knocking on their doors and trying to influence or distort their identity.” For him, the great but necessary challenge is to keep the mission and vision of such a large and diverse church aligned.
“We are more than 20 million members worldwide, from different cultures and languages,” he says. “Although there are distinctive features in each place, the mission of spreading the gospel is one. We need to work together to achieve the goals that God has placed on his church.” he considers.
Pastor Edwin Villca followed the program from the province of Chaco, in Argentina. For him, the greatest lesson he gained from the program and that deserves to be widely shared is the intercession of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary for humanity.
“It shows me that there is still time for repentance and motivates me to share that hope of salvation with everyone around me,” he points out.