May 10, 2014

Columbia Union to Establish an Evangelism School

BY TAASHI ROWE, Columbia Union Visitor

During the Columbia Union Conference’s mid-year
meetings held recently, church leaders voted to go forward with proposals for a
Columbia Union school of evangelism for young adults based in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. The school will be launched in September 2015 with a goal of 16
students who will study a curriculum focused on homiletics, small group
leadership, urban ministry, health ministries, and nonprofit leadership. They
also voted a director of the school who is prayerfully considering the call.

2015 Evangelism
Initiatives Shared

Rubén Ramos, vice president for Multilingual
Ministries, also reported on a yearlong evangelism program for Hispanic
churches slated for 2015 under the theme “Vivangelismo” (LivEvangelism). The
theme reflects a belief that everything the church does, in one way or another,
is about bringing people to Christ. The year would start out with a lay
festival in Ocean City, Maryland, in February and end with a weeklong caravan
of harvesting in November. Throughout the year, Ramos hopes to see at least
1,000 small groups formed, 15 new churches planted and 2,500 new disciples
baptized across the union.

Frank Bondurant, vice president for Missions
Development, also shared an evangelism plan for 2015 for English-speaking
churches that would include the partnership of Allegheny East, Chesapeake, and
Potomac conferences. The three conferences will share resources and, starting
April 11, launch various evangelism outreach efforts.

Young Adults Recommend

The group also approved two recommendations
from the young adult advisory subcommittee. Each conference executive committee
must have at least one young adult member and each conference should appoint a
young adult coordinator. Why make those recommendations? “Young adults are
leaving our churches at an alarming rate,” shared Sanjay Thomas, who chairs the
subcommittee. “When it comes to reclaiming and re-engaging young adults, the
Columbia Union wants to take the lead and we don’t think there is a conference
here that doesn’t want to do the same.”

Also today the union released its 2013 annual
report, themed “Tell of His Good
highlighting its accomplishments as well as
reports from its education and healthcare ministries and in-house departments
and services. It also includes the union’s 2013 financial statement, which
showed a $3 million tithe increase. “This is really a praise report that
illustrates how God is working in and through His people in the Columbia
Union,” said Celeste Ryan Blyden, vice president for public relations and strategic

Blyden also interviewed Albert Kelly, a member
of Allegheny East’s Bethany church in Bridgeton, New Jersey, founder of an
anti-poverty agency and mayor of Bridgeton, which has a population of 25,000.
Kelly shared how his faith informs his work in each area and how his efforts to
build relationships are raising awareness of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
in southern New Jersey.

The new president and CEO of Adventist
HealthCare Terry Forde was also introduced and he shared his vision for the
future of Adventist HealthCare.