Five years after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, killing nearly 100 people and damaging more than 110,000 houses and structures, the Isthmus Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church inaugurated a brand-new headquarters building to minister to the growing church and community during a special ceremony.
The earthquake struck thousands of communities on September 7, 2017, and mobilized the church across state lines to assist those who lost their homes.
Since 2012, the Isthmus Conference office had been operating in a house converted into an office building in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, but after the earthquake it was declared unsafe. Conference administrators and staff had to split operations in different locations.
“The opening of this new building represents a firm advance in the consolidation of the church in this area and also represents a tool to continue in the fulfillment of the mission,” Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union (IOMU) president Abraham Sandoval said. Sandoval spoke to dozens of local church leaders and members of the Isthmus Conference in Matias Romero de Avendaño, Oaxaca, on November 13.
Isthmus Conference secretary José Luis Ramírez publicly thanked God for His providence with resources and means to build the new facility. The new offices are much larger, with surrounding natural green areas, and are less susceptible to earthquakes, Ramírez said. “We believe that this [new office] will bring about a new drive to the mission of the church, and we believe that it is an important step to prepare the people who await the soon coming of Jesus Christ,” he added.
The building features more spacious offices; a board room that can seat 30 people; a conference room that can fit 150; a media studio; a cafeteria space; and several storage rooms. “There are so many other positive aspects in the new conference facility, with plenty of trees, green areas, and a spacious parking lot,” Ramírez said.
Church leaders decided to search for another location since there was serious structural damage to the administrative offices in Juchitán de Zaragoza, and focused on moving away from the aftershocks and toward the area where the greatest concentration of the membership is, approximately 60 minutes away in the Matias Romero region in Oaxaca, Ramírez explained.
The Isthmus Conference is one of 11 conferences and missions operated by the IOMU, and it oversees part of the state that has 203 churches and more than 22,000 church members.
As church leaders and members gathered during the inaugural ceremony, Sandoval reminded them that it was important for the church conference office to have a more visible identity in the region for the mission to be fulfilled more resolutely.
Sandoval listed the functions of the conference office in the region. “The task at hand is to motivate spiritual growth, lead as a center of evangelism strategies, motivate pastors and members to train others, aim to become a powerful communication media center and a center for community outreach activities, as well as a center that can cater to children, young people, and adults,” he said.
Church administrators and leaders prayed for the church and its mission in the region before touring the new facility. The inauguration of the new Isthmus Conference building kicked off union leadership meetings onsite and a session with conference leaders.