July 14, 2020

3,000 Regional Church Officers Discuss How to Lead in Uncertain Times

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist leaders from across all church levels throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) were called on to continue serving faithfully and effectively, as the fourth annual Segment Leadership Development (SeLD) Conference concluded on July 9, 2020.

Nearly 3,000 administrators, department directors, institutional leaders, church pastors, and elders connected via the Zoom video platform in what became a historic online leadership training event meant to empower leaders to sharpen their decision-making skills as they oversee church organizations focused on mission amid the pandemic crisis and beyond.

“We have a lot to worry about these days for our [IAD] institutions, our members, our churches, and our church organizations, but we have a mission to fulfill,” said Elie Henry, president of the Adventist Church in IAD. “We may be worried as to how we can find the means, the strength, or the health to advance and move forward at this time, but we have been reminded to rely on God, for He has called us to accomplish the task.”

Henry encouraged church leaders to align their leadership efforts with the mission plan as they engage employees and church members in the task of preaching, teaching, and serving the community across IAD.

“Go with the assurance that God is with you wherever you go,” he said. “Trust in God, be strong, be of good courage, and do not fear.”

Leadership in Uncertain Times

The four-day training event was themed “Leadership in Unusual Times,” and focused on assisting leaders in reassessing their emergency responses and how they react to challenges, organizers said.

“There’s always a need for the enhancement of our leaders’ competencies, and it was important for this conference to provide opportunities and avenues for each participant to be so equipped amid the realities of COVID-19,” said Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president in charge of leadership training and the main organizer of the conference.

Earlier, day 4 of the SeLD Conference saw leaders being reminded to keep the team they lead united and engaged wholeheartedly in the mission of the church.

Abel Márquez, communication director for the church in the Inter-America Division. [File Photo: Inter-American Division News]

“Develop love and integrity, faithfulness and consecration as leaders united to face any challenge or any emergency that we will have in the future,” said Billy Biaggi, vice president of the Adventist Church. “Be watchful, prepared, and keep on serving amid any emergency or crisis.”

“We must navigate this virtual world we have been forced to delve into so that we can survive,” said Abel Márquez, communication director for IAD. “The access to the physical world as we know it is closed. Take a look around you. Malls are closed, entire buildings and offices are closed. We have had to enter this new virtual world, which is our new normal.”

Márquez told leaders to think outside the cultural and traditional ways of reaching their communities and focus on connecting with the culture prevalent today.

Delegate Reflections

For Ana Lorena Mora, academic vice president at the Central American Adventist University in Costa Rica, the SeLD conference helped her be more motivated to collaborate closely with her co-workers and employees who work in institutions.

“I learned to see myself as a mentor and be a better leader responsible for a more positive influence with colleagues,” Mora said.

Leslie Butcher of the Tobago Mission said the SeLD conference gave him the confidence, knowledge, and reassurance to face the ongoing pandemic through the various presentations and seminars he attended.

“I feel I have new skills to implement and help the congregation move forward no matter what the crisis brings,” he said.

Nathelyn LaCroix, Health Ministries director of the South Bahamas Conference, said she was committing to doing more teamwork and collaborating more with other teams.

“One of the main takes from the entire conference has been the need to lead as Jesus led,” she said. “To do that, we need to connect with Jesus daily.”

Cutting-Edge Leadership

SeLD training is not just an event or a program but about cutting-edge leadership training that connects and moves people in one direction to fulfill the mission, Braham said.

“This is about a journey we are all on to the kingdom, and we are inviting all the leaders to see themselves to be empowered to be effective kingdom builders,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.