In what is believed to be a first for a world division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an estimated 4,000 pastors from the entire South American Division have gathered in Foz de Iguacu, Paraná, Brazil, for a ministerial conference and training event. (Usually, such events are held at the conference or union level.) A globally sourced group of speakers and instructors are anticipated. The Adventist Review will share frequent updates here.
Wilson Opens Historic South American Division Ministerial Council
Four thousand pastors hear emphasis on spiritual preparation
BY FELIPE LEMOS, South American Division
Are you really united in hope for the return of Jesus?" asked Pastor Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on Tuesday, May 24, during the opening of an unprecedented Ministerial Council, “United in Hope,” which has brought together more than four thousand Seventh-day Adventist pastors from eight South American countries.
It is believed to be the first time any of the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions has brought all its pastors together in a single ministerial training event.
In his address to the pastors, who packed the convention center in the city of Foz do Iguacu, in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, Wilson recalled the recent episode in which an American religious figure predicted Jesus would return May 21. Wilson reminded his audience , that Jesus will return on a day determined by God – as the Bible plainly declares – but that believers need to be genuinely prepared for that moment.
The president underlined his hope that the world’s billions not miss the opportunity to be in heaven and that nothing diverts their focus from this great event. "The Lord Jesus is returning soon and we are looking for the blessed hope," Wilson declared.
Before the leader of nearly 17 million Adventists spoke, Pastor Erton Köhler, South American Division president, cited the legacy of his two predecessors, pastors Rui Nagel and John Wolff. He recounted the delivery of five million leaflets promoting the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ in a one-day evangelism outreach under Wolff’s leadership on March 31, 1979, and the establishment of integrated evangelism when Nagel served as the Division’s executive. Köhler also emphasized the need to pursue personal revival and reformation.
"Here we are citizens of heaven. Our [present] identity speaks louder than our origins," he said.
The intention to illustrate unity through diversity among the Division’s people and pastors was clear in the very opening of the event, when representatives greeted those present in six different languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Aymara, Quechua, Guarani and Roma.
A special copy of the Bible, with nearly 70 supplements, including a full set of 27 Bible studies, was delivered to each of the pastors present. The Pastor's Bible was given as a gift, but was delivered with a sense of responsibility. Pastors were challenged to prepare themselves intensely to preach to the more than 300 million people living in Division’s territory. In a moving scene, thousands of pastors placed their hands on the Bible in a pledge of dedication as General Conference executive secretary G.T. Ng prayed for their faithfulness to God’s Word.
On the opening night, there was also a first-ever census of Adventist pastors from South America. According to sociologist Tadeu de Jesus, all the participants were to complete a questionnaire consisting of 216 questions highlighting the pastor in his personal life and professional life. This research will help generate indicators to measure processes and strategic outcomes for Adventist pastors.
At the close of the evening meeting, hundreds of prayers groups that will function throughout the five-day event were formed among the thousands of pastors present. Each group will focus its prayer time on the book “True Revival,” which includes selections from Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White.