September 30, 2013

In Sermon, in Demonstration, Seventh-day Adventists Urged Toward Urban Ministry

The imperative to venture into the world’s cities with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s special message sounded in both Sabbath worship and contemplation on September 28, 2013, as delegates to the Urban Mission Conference gathered at the General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“It’s time to move forward.  It’s time to reach the millions living in the great cities of this world,” said Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, General Conference president, in a Sabbath morning message about the need to do the “work of Enoch” in reaching metropolitan areas. [Read the complete sermon.]

“God tells us, like He did Enoch, to enter the cities with the power of God’s truth to find those who are honest of heart who will respond to the tender pleading of the Holy Spirit as Biblical truth is presented,” Wilson said.  “That is why today and in the future, we must be part of those who diligently seek God personally through revival and reformation in our own lives, leaning completely on the merits and grace of Jesus Christ for our salvation and for the salvation of others as we proclaim the central theme in the three angels’ messages -- the righteousness of Christ --righteousness by faith in Him.”

Noting the need in today’s society, to which both Enoch and, later, Jesus Himself, responded, Wilson said, “As Enoch did and as Christ did, we are go into the cities to bring encouragement, healing and spiritual blessing to those who need to hear of hope -- this is Mission to the Cities.”

Following Wilson’s sermon – broadcast on church-owned Hope Channel – Sabbath afternoon was devoted to several presentations about urban ministry, including a report from Tony Romeo, pastor of the Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church where a major NY13 evangelistic event took place.

A highlight of the afternoon program was a DVD presentation of the innovative “Simplicity” program recently launched in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Adventist Mission director Gary Krause interviewed Wes Via, director of Simplicity, about this church-owned “center of influence” recently inaugurated in suburban Allentown. The program, Via said, is an initiative of the Pennsylvania conference and integrates Bible work, canvassing, door-to-door contacts, welfare work and medical missionary efforts. He noted the program is attempting to demonstrate the comprehensive evangelism being described in the new Urban Ministry model.

Via said the ministry is making an average of 100 contacts per week with the unchurched. And, he added, two baptisms have already resulted.

Associate ministerial secretary Anthony Kent said the presentations were helpful.

“It was particularly valuable to see courageous, innovative and effective methods that individuals and congregations are using to reach out to people in their communities, particularly in those communities that are challenging to reach,” Kent told Adventist Review. “It was also clearly apparent that these methods were not successful because they were innovative but primarily because the Holy Spirit seems to be blessing and leading in these approaches.”

The Urban Mission Conference continues through October 1, 2013.