The Inter-American Division’s (IAD) Year-End Executive Committee Meetings concluded with special resolution of gratitude for God’s blessings and guidance in leadership, finance, evangelism and protection throughout the territory.
“We thank you Lord for the faithful administration of the leaders at the levels of our local churches, our local fields, our unions, the Inter-American Division, and the General Conference, who have wisely responded to the needs and emergencies of the church in times of the pandemic and economic crises,” began reading Pastor Roberto Brown, Executive Secretary of the church in Honduras.
The resolution of gratitude, which ended the four days of year-end board meetings and executive meetings held online, drew the attention of more than 150 church administrators from throughout the 24 major church regions in the territory, on Nov 4, 2021.
“We thank you for stabilizing our financial sustainability, during threatening deficits caused by the pandemic, making it possible to fulfill the Great Commission….We thank you Lord for the passionate dynamic evangelism outreach plans voted for our Inter-American Division Centennial Celebration…
“We thank you, Lord, for granting our divine comfort and strength to the families of our Inter-American Division workers who have fallen asleep in the wake of COVID-19 and other causes.”
The resolution also praised God for the more than 4.4 million missionary books distributed, for nearly 100,000 persons baptized, evangelism carried out throughout the year, and many more blessings, before leaders joined in a session of prayer for the church in Inter-America and the world church.
A recent survey conducted by the Division revealed some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the territory. A total of 11,351 church members took part during a recent five-week term in identifying areas that need growth within the organization at different levels, said Pastor Balvin Braham, Vice President for the church in Inter-America and also overseeing the survey.
“We wanted to make this available to you, so you can look at your corresponding union to see how your territory was affected,” said Braham. The survey was coordinated with the research center at Montemorelos University in North Mexico.
Highlighting just a few of the positive responses, Braham pointed out that:
- 65 percent said that an online church is an effective means of conducting the services of the church.
- 77 percent were involved in praying with or for others during the pandemic and 60% spent more time in prayer.
- 65 Percent attended prayer meeting either weekly or often
- 73 percent attended Sabbath School either weekly or often
- 77 percent attended worship services either weekly or often
- 54 percent spent more time in Bible reading
In areas that need attention, some results included:
- 37 percent have lost either a family member or someone close
- 18 percent lost their income during the pandemic
- 30 percent of the members have not attended any service conducted by their local church since the pandemic. (They went to other Adventist churches)
- 27 percent need the motivation to attend Sabbath School weekly
- 23 percent need the motivation to attend the weekly preaching services of the church
Committee members voted to establish a Post-Pandemic Rehabilitation Committee at each union to analyze and contextualize the survey results according to their own field and to address current issues arising from the pandemic which affect members, churches, and the community. The complete survey with union individualized results will be available soon at leadership.interamerica.org.
Focus more on Three Angels’ Messages
Committee members discussed the importance of ensuring the church across the territory keeps preaching the Three Angels’ Messages and its context in today’s world.
“The link between the preaching of the Three Angels’ messages and the health message as well as other important areas for our church to highlight must be kept close in our ministry,” said Pastor Elie Henry, President of the Church in Inter-America. “We are a church that knows what we believe and lives what we know,” he added. Pastor Henry said that it will be important for the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary (IATS) to provide direction, orientation, and resources to the leadership and church on this important subject matter.
IATS President Efraín Velázquez shared with the committee members that Bible and theology experts will continue to provide documents and presentations on the Three Angels’s Messages, particularly in contextualizing the 10 significant theological issues the church is facing in the 21st century. These theological issues were compiled by church leaders at the Adventist World Church’s Annual Council Meetings last month.
“Pressing issues in our church in Inter-America, [such as] biblical justice when it comes to migrants and the disadvantaged communities, and examining who we are in the IAD after a century of being organized, must be addressed,” said Velázquez. “Beliefs and lifestyles that identify us as bearers of the Three Angels’ Messages must be affirmed through conversations, conferences, and publications,” he emphasized.
The Great Controversy Project 2.0
Pastor Almir Marroni, Publishing Ministries Director for the Adventist World Church, presented the world church project that will launch in 2023 with the distribution of The Great Controversy, a book written by Seventh-day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White. The project will see 1 billion copies distributed around the globe. The book will be the missionary book of the year for the years 2023-2024, he said.
“This is an easy activity that everyone in the church can do,” said Marroni. Inter-America has always been very active in engaging its members in impacting communities with mass distributions of the missionary book, he said.
Pastor Isaías Villarreal, Publishing Ministries Director for the church in Inter-America, shared with committee members that he has been in close conversations with Pastor Henry to plan for a distribution of 100 million copies, beginning with a soft launch in 2022. “We will closely coordinate with all the unions on the appropriate plans for this project,” said Espinoza.
Pastor Henry informed leaders that the administration is already working with the IAD’s two publishing houses, IADPA and GEMA Editors, on an acceptable printing cost. “We want to give the opportunity to our church members to share as many books as possible, everywhere, in evangelistic campaign activities and in everything that we do,” Pastor Henry said.
More information and specifics on The Great Controversy Project 2.0 in Inter-America will be shared soon, leaders said.
Initiatives were voted and progress reports shared
A new online program, coined as Leadership Talk, will include a question-and-answer program that will utilize contextualized methods to address leadership issues within the organization and institutions of the IAD. As part of the IAD’s strategic plan under leadership training, the one-hour program will be produced every other month from the IAD office.
Church leaders also voted to establish an Ellen G. White Book Translation Committee to make more books available in languages spoken in Inter-America, amend several policies, upgrade several local fields, review the Adventist World church’s global church member survey project, and appoint rotating youth representatives on the Executive Committee.
In addition, committee members were given an update on the growth and advancement of Hope Channel Inter-America and its soon to be launched Hope Bible School initiative, details on the Adventist Virtual Exhibition Experience during GC Session, as well as on article updates for the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventist, the impact of digital evangelism during the pandemic, amongst others.
Committee members voted to appoint Tomas Torres, who is one of the IAD vice presidents, to be in charge of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty; Isaías Espinoza, Publishing Ministries Director, to be in charge of Spirit of Prophecy; David Poloche, ADRA Director, to lead in Trust Services and Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) Inter-America; Jose Flóres as the new director of Inter-America’s Health Food Company; and Luciano González to lead as the IAD representative for the Geoscience Research Institute, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
The new assignments were appointed as Pastor James Daniel, who has been in charge of IAD’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, ASi Inter-America, Spirit of Prophecy, and Trust Services, will be retiring at the end of the year.
Pastor Henry praised the work of Pastor James Daniel and Gamaliel Flórez, Former Education Director, as committee members took a vote of appreciation for their dedication and service to the church in Inter-America.
Committee members voted to appoint IADPA staff as follows: Mónica Díaz as Senior Editor; Vladimir Polanco, Senior Editor of Biblical and Theology books; and Sabine Honoré, Jorge Rodríguez, Raquel Rodríguez, as associate editors. In GEMA editors , Alejandro Medina Villarreal was appointed as Senior Editor.
Several authorized meetings for 2022 were voted to include:
- January 8 – I Will Go 100 Years Consecration Service, division-wide
- May 2-5 – Inter-America’s Mid-Year Executive Meetings including institutional boards, online
- May 11 – Centenary Reflection Celebration, location undetermined
- June 6-11 – General Conference Session, St. Louis, Missouri, United States
- July 25-27 – SeLD Conference, in-person and online
- August 17-21 – ASi Inter-America Annual Convention, location undetermined
- October 29-Nov 4 – IAD Centennial Celebration and Year-end Executive Committee Meetings, Dominican Republic.
At the close of the year-end meetings, Pastor Erton Kohler, Executive Secretary of the Adventist World Church, who took part in the two-day online meetings, said he was impressed with seeing the unity and commitment of the church leadership in Inter-America. “I’ve seen your clear focus on the mission, your passion and involvement in so many projects through your video reports,” said Kohler. “May God continue blessing you with this unity and focus on the mission.”
To learn more about the Inter-American Division its initiatives, meetings, and activities, visit us at interamerica.org.