January 31, 2018

Church Elders Empowered to Baptize in Australia

Maritza Brunt, Adventist Record

A new discipleship initiative from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia (AUC) will empower local church elders to baptize twice a year. It is the first time local church elders will participate in such a program, which has received support from the South Pacific Division church region and the General Conference, which coordinates the work of the church around the world.

“We’ve been working on this program for more than a year,”

“We’ve been working on this program for more than a year,” said AUC president Jorge Munoz. “The initiative has been tried successfully in the Inter-American Division, and the AUC is excited about trying it as a discipleship tool here in Australia.”

AUC personal ministries director Cristian Copaceanu said the new initiative will empower local church elders to function according to their high spiritual calling. “Biblically, elders were the cornerstone of the local church for both pastoral care and discipleship,” he said. “Throughout the world today wherever church elders function at their biblical calling we see rapid kingdom growth.”

Currently, the Church Manual allows elders to baptize potential new members subject to the approval of the conference where the baptism is in a remote location. Under the new system, local church elders who have completed a training program will be able to baptize on the last Sabbaths in July and November.

“Many times, we hear that elders feel that they are not adequately trained to teach, give Bible studies, or follow up interests,” said Munoz. “This program will allow them not only to do all those things but also to have the blessing to baptize those with whom they study.”

To participate in the program, elders must register for training with their local church pastors. The training will then be completed either online or locally with their church pastor. The program will be launched in the next few months.