In June 2019, as leaders from the world and North American Seventh-day Adventist Church were visiting churches in California, United States, they stopped for a special presentation at the El Monte Vietnamese Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Guests saw a preview of how the local conference is accomplishing its mission to “exalt Christ by serving others,” local leaders said.
“We are interested in seeing how different conferences do ministry,” said North American Division (NAD) executive secretary Alexander Bryant as he addressed members and guests in the El Monte congregation.
Southern California Conference (SCC) president Velino A. Salazar spoke of the history of SCC as a diverse territory, noting many of the firsts in that conference territory, from the first church in 1879 to the first Mongolian group in the United States, formed in 2018.
“Our strength and our treasure is our diversity,” Salazar said as he emphasized SCC’s mission. “Our feet are planted here, but our hearts and minds are global.”
Salazar then highlighted several churches that are taking innovative approaches to be more relevant in this diverse society, including Los Angeles Central Korean, Tehachapi, Philadelphian, Los Angeles Cantonese, and, of course, El Monte Vietnamese.
“It is my honor to serve,” said Vinh Nguyen, pastor at El Monte Vietnamese church. “But most of all, it is important to understand how the immigrant church works in this territory.”
Throughout the presentation, guests were able to experience Vietnamese culture through food, music, and dance. Nguyen shared how, through God’s grace, the church has had a significant impact on the surrounding community by opening its doors seven days a week.
El Monte Vietnamese church hosts the Vietnamese Adventist Heritage School, where 100 students participate in a tutoring program from Monday through Friday and a language school on Sunday. Students are presented with the gospel along with their academic learning. “When we reach the children,” Nguyen said, we reach the whole family.
Participants were then invited to tour the campus to see the variety of ways El Monte Vietnamese church is engaging with the local community.
At the end of the tour, officials gathered with church members in the sanctuary to pray over the congregation and its leaders. Adventist Church executive secretary G. T. Ng, who was part of the tour, compared the work of El Monte Vietnamese church to that of a local conference, noting the numerous ministries in the church.
“This church has media, printing, Sabbath school, children, language, and many other ministries,” he said. Local leaders reported that out of 150 active members, about half are involved in ministry volunteer positions.
El Monte Vietnamese church is just one of many who are carrying the mission of the church in a diverse community, Salazar said.
“We are not alike; we are as diverse as our many cultures, languages, and worship styles,” he said. “But we are a family, and we are happy.”