[Photo Courtesy of the North American Division]

General Conference

Connecting the Pastoral “Family”

Congregations may reap the greatest benefit at the CALLED Pastor’s Family Convention, agree church leaders and past attendees.

United States | Dave Gemmell

Pastors of the North American Division (NAD) are looking forward to the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention, to be held in Lexington, Kentucky, on June 19–22, 2022.

The convention offers some of the best continuing education opportunities, with six arena sessions and 120 seminars. Specific tracks will be offered for Spanish-speaking pastors, volunteer lay pastors, chaplains, ministry tech lab operators, and spouses.

More than 5,000 attended the 2015 CALLED Convention, and attendance in 2022 could be higher.

Connecting with other pastors is a huge draw for the convention. “It’s going to just be really fun to see everybody. On the local level, we are all in our small community setting, and not always do pastors get outside of their little bubbles. To see this many of us all together in one spot will be pretty fun,” said Jennifer Scott, a pastor in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Todd Stout, of Advent Hope in the Greater New York area, agrees. “I am looking forward to the connections that are going to be made during this time together and the collegiality of all of us coming together in one place,” he said.

“Spaces like this can push back against the hyperindividualism that so many of us have experienced. And this is a good reminder that we are interconnected people who have the same highs and the same lows and crave being able to connect with one another,” said Manuel Artiega, from the Southern California Conference.

Connecting is especially important with one unique group of pastors. Donna Holland, of Northern New England, looks forward to “an opportunity to visit with other female pastors, which I have limited access to in my local conference.”

Additionally, Melissa Cook, pastor in the Maritime Conference, is thinking of a parallel group. “Here in Canada, there are not too many male spouses. I read there’s going to be times of fun and outdoor activities for these guys,” she said. “I can’t wait for my husband to have that experience as he connects with other male spouses.”

Family Focus

The word “family” has intentionally been added to the convention title. Adam Case, Ministerial Association director of the Wisconsin Conference, affirms this decision.

He said, “The focus on families is important. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, pastors need rest, recreation, and intentional development, particularly in the emphasis on family.”

The Wisconsin Conference values the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention so highly that they shifted their camp meeting schedule to allow for pastors to attend.

William Lee, pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chicago, Illinois, is “looking forward to some children’s programming as well. I know it was outstanding last time, and it’s going to be awesome once again.”

“Go Fish” is the theme for kids ages 3–12, who will be exploring their spiritual gifts. Sherri Uhrig, director of NAD Children’s Ministries, has a message for pastoral parents: “Mom and Dad! God has given your children special gifts! He has made them to be ‘unique,’ ‘one of a kind.’ There is no one quite like them! They are His masterpiece!”

Preacher’s kids (PKs) in grades 7–12 are invited to the PKs’ congress. Vandeon Griffin, an associate director of NAD Youth and Young Adult ministries, anticipates that “this division-wide congress will create momentum that is sure to ignite, engage, and move PKs in their faith journey.” The PKs’ congress includes energetic worship, dynamic speakers, biblical drama presentations, community outreach, and excursions.

Innovation Rewarded

Andrea Boccai, of Walla Walla University Church, is “looking forward to some of the innovative ideas that come through at the evangelism ‘shark tank.’” Churches are invited to submit their revolutionary evangelism plans to the shark tank. According to José Cortes, Jr., an associate director of NAD Ministerial Association, “a total of $120,000 will be awarded for the top ideas and initiatives, as chosen by the panel. These funds will go to winning churches for implementation of the initiatives presented by their pastor at the shark tank.”

To keep costs down for pastoral families, Lexington, Kentucky, which is within a day’s drive for more than half of the NAD pastors, is the host city. Financial partners include the NAD, unions, conferences, congregations, and major sponsors. “Most pastoral families should be able to afford to attend,” said Ivan Williams, NAD Ministerial Association director.

One of the most popular features of the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention, according to Brad Forbes of AdventSource, is the resource hall. “Pastors come to be equipped with the latest resources for their congregation,” he shared. “Much of the equipping takes place in the resource hall, where pastors and resource producers connect around the latest tools for ministry.”

A recent survey of pastors taken during the pandemic highlighted the need for virtual technology. Rohann Wellington, director of NAD Professional Services, announced that “the ministry tech lab is a place where your needs will be met and your questions answered. No matter your skill level, there will be a game-changing technology with practical steps to begin using it.”

Nestor Bruno, director of Kettering Ministry Care Line, shared that Kettering Health is providing a presession designed to strengthen the mental health and pastoral care of NAD pastors and their congregations.

The heartbeat of the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention is the arena, a large yet intimate worship center. Williams invites attendees to “imagine each of the six arena sessions overflowing with intentional, authentic worship, yielding an unforgettable experience in the Lord’s presence. As we worship together with thousands of other colleagues, friends, and family members, each session will be filled with focused prayer, singing, praise, and testimonials.”

Benjie Maxon, of Modesto, California, summed up the thoughts of many pastors, saying, “I’m looking forward to the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention as a great opportunity to get refreshed and renewed after the impact of the shutdown and the grief of the pandemic and all that it brought. I’m also looking forward to collaborating and being filled and finding peace and regeneration for the next phase of my ministry and my church’s life.”

Congregations may reap the greatest benefit from the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention as their pastors return inspired, refreshed, and equipped.

—Dave Gemmell recently retired from his position as an associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association.

This article was originally published on the North American Division’s news site