The number of baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) region has passed the four-million mark for the first time in its history, said Alain Coralie, the Division’s secretary, in a recent report to the members of its Executive Committee. Coralie’s report showed that at the beginning of the third quarter of 2015, the number of baptized members was 3,116,320, while membership now stands at 4,097,347.
The figures Coralie shared show that the Division, with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and encompassing 10 African nations, has increased its membership by nearly a million (981,027) in the past three years. That is a growth rate of 31.5 percent, or an average increase of more than 10 percent every year, he said.
Regional church leaders explained that across the Division, ECD members and leaders have wholeheartedly embraced the “Mission Priority” theme. “It is something that has resulted in the great success of our Total Member Involvement [TMI] initiatives,” they said. Total Member Involvement is an initiative of the world church that looks for every member to be involved in the work of sharing Jesus with their friends and neighbors.
While this number of baptized members is an unprecedented accomplishment in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Coralie counterbalanced the good news with the fact that the church also lost nearly 150,000 members across the region over the same three-year period. Simply put, for every 100 members who joined the church, about 15 decided to leave. This state of affairs does not go unnoticed by ECD president Blasius Ruguri. “This growth in membership makes us smile, but losses are sobering,” he said.
Coralie urged church leaders and members to let the love of Christ propel them so that they spare no effort in reclaiming former members. He also challenged delegates to share strategies for nurturing and retaining the new people who join the church. “Nurture and discipleship should not be an afterthought," he told them.
The report concluded with Coralie introducing the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS). He hailed it as a sound membership management system that will enable unions to report membership with a higher level of accuracy and reliability. “By faith, we will push forward with a renewed commitment to our vision,” he said.
The original version of this story was posted on the East-Central Africa Division news site.