April 21, 2006

Adventist News

Church’s Spring Meeting Emphasizes 
Mission, Youth, Tithe Growth

capMission activities, approval for a second world youth conference, the financial picture, and leadership elections were among the issues discussed during the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Spring Meeting held April 12 to 13 in Loma Linda, California.

MISSION. During the world church session in October 2005, delegates voted seven specific areas of emphasis for the current quinquennium: spiritual growth, community involvement, personal witness, city outreach, church planting, evangelistic programming, and media ministry.

“The challenge for us is to keep this vision before our people,” said Michael L. Ryan, a general vice president of the world church, to some 100 Spring Meeting attendees.

“We cannot do business as usual in the way we approach mission. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and approaches,” said Mark Finley, a general vice president of the world church, who, together with Ryan, presented the objectives of the “Tell the World” evangelistic vision to Spring Meeting delegates.

YOUTH. The committee approved a proposal to convene a second World Conference on Youth and Community Service to be held July 14 to 26, 2008, in a region of the 10/40 window—a rectangular area covering parts of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where 70 percent of the world’s population lives and where there is not a large Christian community. The location will be proposed to the 2006 Annual Council for final approval.

It was also voted to establish the term Impact as the official youth evangelism identity of the world church headquarters.

FINANCES. World church treasurer Robert E. Lemon reported that tithe increased by 9.5 percent in North America, which is the highest in the last 100 years, he said. The world fields outside of North America saw an increase of 12 percent in tithe, resulting in a net increase of more than 10 percent for the world church. Part of this is due to a growth in membership, said Lemon.

In addition, mission offerings across the world church went up by 3 percent. “That is a major, major shift,” said Lemon.

“We [came] to the end of five years with a very different picture than we anticipated five years ago,” he added. “As we move forward in the next quinquennium, one of our challenges is to adjust appropriations . . . in parts of the world where we have few members.

“We must find ways as we move forward to strengthen those areas. We must remember that finishing the work in one area is not enough,” Lemon concluded.

LEADERSHIP CHANGES. Also during Spring Meeting, Raul Gomez announced his retirement as secretary of the church in South America. Melchor A. Ferreyra, president of the church in Peru, was elected to fill this position. Because of substantial growth in that region, the Executive Committee voted to reorganize the Peru Union Mission into two separate unions, or local administrative church regions. There are more than 700,000 adult Adventist believers in Peru today.

Lisa M. Beardsley, vice president for Educational Affairs at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, was elected as associate director of education for the world church. She will fill the position to be vacated by Andrea Luxton, who accepted a position as president of Canadian University College.

A NOTE OF INTEREST. Director of the world church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department, John Graz, informed delegates that the sixth International Religious Liberty Association World Congress will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, February 27 to March 1, 2007.                                                   --Adventist News Network/AR.

Update on Adventist Church in Iraq
During a recent executive committee meeting of the Adventist Church, delegation of Iraqi Adventist Church leaders, who had endured a hazardous journey to attend the session, reported on the work of the church in their war-torn country.

“Our Iraqi brothers and sisters told me how they leave their homes as little as possible,” said Middle East Union president Kjell Aune during the March 19 meeting held in Amman, Jordan. “The other day a bomb went off in a market in Baghdad, killing around 60 innocent people. It is impossible for them to foresee where bombs can be placed and at what time of day they can explode.”

According to statistics presented at the session, before the embargo and the American-Iraqi war, the Iraqi Adventist Church numbered about 250 members. Many of the members, like a great number of other Iraqis, have now fled the country.

“We are now down to about 150 members in the records, more likely around 100 in reality,” said Basim Fargo, the newly elected president of the Adventist Church in Iraq. Two people were baptized in 2005.                                                                                                               --MEU Communication Department/AR.

TRINIDAD: Caribbean Union College Upgraded to University 
Fireworks marked the end of Caribbean Union College and the birth of the University of the Southern Caribbean on March 16. For 78 years Caribbean Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist school, has provided tertiary-level education to the population of Trinidad and Tobago and beyond. Now the island’s newest university—University of the Southern Caribbean—joins two others.

With university status the school can now do research and offer graduate courses, says Andrea Luxton, associate director of Education for the Adventist world church.

For more information, go to usc.edu.tt.                                --University of the Southern Caribbean/ANN/AR.