[Photos: Noreen C. Sumalpong, Lemuel G. Banday, Nadeth B. Quinto]
Philippines | Nadeth B. Quinto

To reexamine, reorient, empower, and encourage church education secretaries and school board members on Adventist Education’s role in students’ holistic development, the Education Department of the Adventist Church in the Central Visayas region (CVC) called for a two-day meeting at Adventist Academy Cebu in Talisay City, Cebu, on September 16–17, 2022.

More than 300 registered delegates from different church schools all over Central Visayas responded and attended the first-ever CVC-wide Church Education Secretary and School Board Convention, with the theme "Adventist Education for Eternity." 

Resource speakers from the division office and various Adventist educational institutions attended this meeting to impart inspiration and ministry through the scholastic field. Those who graced this gathering included: Dr. Bienvenido G. Mergal, Education director for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD); Dr. Bryan Sumendap, SSD associate Education director; Darlene Adap, SSD Risk Management director; Lemuel G. Banday, Education director for the Central Philippine Union Conference (CPUC); Ana Liza V. Facon, CPUC associate Education director; and Dr. Isaias S. Guisando, CVC Education director.

In an interview, Dr. Guisando shared his observation about the church's education ministry. He reiterated the significance of electing a church education secretary in the local churches because this has been a program of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, as stipulated in the Church Manual.

"It is the only office in the local church that will promote Christian education, and now, only a few of our church members are involved in promoting Adventist education. So, we have decided to initiate this kind of program for them to be aware of the sacred responsibility of supporting, rearing, and monitoring the status of the children in our churches—the responsibility that the church has to look into, especially in preparing young people for eternity,” Dr. Guisando said. “We are so happy that many decided to come and join the said convention."

During the hour of worship, Dr. Mergal reminded everyone to teach the children to love the Lord, who is the source of all wisdom. He also expressed his praises to God for the success of the first-ever meeting with the church education secretaries and school board members. 

"I know you have been attentive in listening to the different presentations, and I would like to encourage you to keep studying all those principles. We understand that we are living in the end time, and we have a lot of challenges in our school, but let us always remember that the Lord will never leave us. The Spirit of Prophecy is clear concerning our schools because they are ordained to prepare our young people for heaven," Mergal shared.

Moreover, Dr. Robert Pabillaran, the school board chairman of the Adventist Elementary School in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu, appreciated the initiative of the CVC Education Department.

"I am very impressed. Having seminars like this is very important because it will hone and harness the potential of our church education secretaries, school board members, and teachers, together with our local church board members, to revisit the importance of Adventist education," Pabillaran said.

Through God's guidance, Raquel Rasonabe, Education secretary from the Calape SDA Church in Bohol, expressed that they will do their best to guide the children to participate in different church programs.

"It's the first-ever seminar that baffles me on how to do it. The Bible is telling us that man proposes, but God disposes. So let us entrust everything to the Lord to realize our plans," Rasonabe exclaimed.

On the other hand, Banday commended the leadership of Dr. Guisando and the support of the CVC administration for heeding the call to revive the education ministry of the local church. According to him, for many years, this ministry in the local church has been neglected and was not given importance, as most churches do not have church schools.

"Considering Ellen G. White's statement … about establishing schools for the children where there are churches and when there are those who assemble to worship God, made us think about how the church could comply with this instruction," Banday said. He further explained that there are 1,966 churches and companies throughout the CPUC territory but only 78 church schools. 

"If Mrs. White was alive today, what would be her advice with establishing schools, since there are many requirements that even our present church schools could hardly comply with? So we thought of making the education secretary of the local church function in providing activities and training like that of the church schools in churches where there are no schools. We thought that they would [counterbalance] the church-school ratio. There are 426 churches and companies in CVC, with only 12 church schools. The active education secretary of the church can compensate for what Isaiah said in Isaiah 54:13: 'And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children [KJV],'" Banday commented. 

"I am happy that CVC leadership seriously considers Adventist education a divine mandate. Let us [exert] all our power to make our school a blessing to the youth," he added. 

The two-day convention culminated with a commitment ceremony, which led all the attendees to accept the challenge of teaching the Adventist children in the Lord until He comes.