"The challenges we are experiencing in secularized Europe are a preview of the same challenges in other regions of the world, more or less soon. The way we are facing them, and in many cases overcoming them, will open perspectives and paths for the church in those regions. Beyond the mission here, that is an invaluable contribution that, once again, the church in Europe is seeking to make to the advancement of the work."
With these words, Mário Brito, president of the Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, ended the organization's end-of-year administrative meeting, which took place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on November 3–8.
This year's meeting—in addition to the administrative work of reporting, approval of accounts and budgets, and scheduling of church activities—featured a focused analysis and discussion on the growing opportunities of communication through digital media for the development of a personal discipleship ministry. This discussion led to a collection of guidelines and the formation of a task team for the proposal of an integrated communication and media plan with a focus on mission, to be presented in 2023.
The meeting included some participants from the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventists, which was primarily represented by Arthur Stele, one the GC’s vice-presidents. Stele acknowledging the difficult conditions and circumstances for evangelization, demonstrated his joy for the missionary efforts of the church in Europe and the "true miracle" of the baptisms taking place. He also made an emotional reference to the extraordinary work done by ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) Europe in supporting the Ukrainian population and refugees who have moved to nearby countries that have received them, both in the EUD and TED. Stele considered that the mission in Europe is "alive and thriving."
Also from the GC, Lowell Cooper, Ganoune Diop, and Karnik Doukmetzian visited the EUD territory for this meeting. Cooper, former vice-president of the GC, was in charge of the moments of reflection and devotion, focusing on a personal relationship with Jesus as the answer to the fundamental questions of existence and relationship with others.
Diop, director of the GC Religious Liberty and Public Affairs Department, offered a set of three presentations on the Three Angels’ Messages, closely relating them to the message of hope God has mandated the Adventist Church to deliver for today. Doukmetzian, general counsel to the GC, conducted a training on the challenges facing the Church and its local communities in present days with regard to legal issues. Doukmetzian was joined by Cooper regarding church organization, given the arrival of new officers to the unions of this division.
Adventist World Radio (AWR) representatives presented the plan for next year’s project, “Christ for Europe,” taking place in May 2023, in which several churches from EUD unions will participate in a joint effort for mission in Europe between the different levels of the Church.
Sabbath was spent at the Plovdiv Congress Centre, with a program organized by the Bulgarian Union, presided over by Milen Georgiev. In addition to Sabbath School and worship services on Sabbath morning, the afternoon was filled with a question-and-answer session with General Conference officers, who, before EUD leaders and church members in Bulgaria, explained the workings of the General Conference and presented ideas and plans for the development of the worldwide mission.
This year-end meeting, the first to take place in person since 2019, was a blessed opportunity for reunion between division leaders, officers, and lay members of the unions. In this city in central Bulgaria, considered to be the oldest urban center in Europe and a meeting point between cultures and civilizations, the great challenges to mission in Europe were recalled, but, above all, new ways of overcoming them were traced, always with hope in perspective and mission in the service of others as a responsibility.