The final language is being worked on, but world leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are clear: evangelization in the big cities and rural areas – “the whole world,” as General Conference president Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson put it – is a top priority for the 17-million-member movement.
The vision that emerged from the five-day Urban Mission Conference at the world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, noted the “reality of the cities” as well as the “urgency for a bold emphasis on urban mission,” according to a preliminary version of the document.
A key aspect of that vision, the document indicated, is “that every city with a population of 1 million or more will have an influential Seventh-day Adventist presence actively engaged in a comprehensive mission, using Christ’s Method of ministry.”
The phrase “Christ’s Method” comes from the book Ministry of Healing by Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. On page 143 of that volume, she writes: “Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
The document’s final text is being revised and is expected to be presented at the Church’s Annual Council, a global business meeting of world church leaders which commences October 11 in Silver Spring.
According to Gary Krause, director of the Office of Adventist Mission, “Seventh-day Adventists have made terrific contributions to cities through such things as caring for the poor, and providing education and health services. But this summit has been a wake-up call that in many large cities we have no church members and are doing nothing, and that in every city we can do so much more by following Christ's example of wholistic mission.”
The Urban Mission Conference concluded with a communion service led by Wilson and veteran evangelist Mark Finley, who stressed the connections between God’s provision of bread to the Israelites and Jesus being the “living bread” to His disciples and present-day followers.