The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America will focus on increased evangelism efforts, intense community outreach, and heightened education training across the territory during the next two years, top church leaders said. Dozens of the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) executive committee members voted to align their efforts on these three main strategic issues in their respective regions as the second annual business meetings concluded in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“We must move forward together with these three main priorities in the coming years because our church continues to be a movement that is proclaiming the good news of salvation, so evangelism is what moves us,” said Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America as he spoke to top church administrators on November 12, 2018. “We cannot have a strong church if we do not ensure that there is education, formal and non-formal, for our young people and all church members.”
To achieve that total member involvement requires a personal and individual transformation made possible through the transforming power of the Lord, Henry explained. “We must work together with young people, laypersons, educators, chaplains, colporteurs, health professionals, with all of our institutions, hospitals, and all to work to honor God and reach our goals,” he said.
Centers of Influence
Among the large initiatives voted during the two days of business meetings included one that will see special offering funds go toward 13 of IAD’s universities. Committee members voted to request the General Conference for the 13th Sabbath offering scheduled for the second quarter of 2021, for a special regional project. The offering would be used to establish a “center of influence” at each university, to help improve the quality of life in the surrounding community.
“It is understood that the project would include both professors and students, with missionary activities being the core of the operations of the centers of influence,” stated the motion that was voted on. The IAD would advance the funds to the participating institutions during 2019 and 2020.
Henry said the significant center of influence project in each university will encompass evangelistic, educational, and community impact comprehensively and intentionally across the territory.
Evangelism efforts will double in Inter-America, according to church leaders, as pastors, leaders, and active church members work toward reaching a baptismal goal of more than 200,000 new members — an annual goal not reached for more than a decade in the territory.
Balvin Braham, field secretary and assistant to the IAD president for evangelism and leadership development, reported that the baptism goal from 2015 to 2018 was set for 760,295 new members. The actual number of persons baptized as of September 2018 is 713,530.
“We can be satisfied that we are on target to realize the baptismal goal for this quinquennium, which is to reach 1,100,501 by June 2020,” said Braham. With the estimated population in the IAD territory being more than 308 million, the challenge continues to be large, added Braham. The current IAD membership stands at about 3.8 million.
Reconciliation and Discipleship of Former Members
Top union administrators and committee members voted a practical guide to reclaim missing members through a number of church activities. “We must look into training members on how they can reclaim all of our missing members,” said Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath school director for the church in Inter-America.
The guide emphasizes conversion as an act of returning to God and the church, examines the function of love in the conversion of former and active members, focuses on the stages of reconciliation, and gives practical instructions on how to implement a ministry of reconciliation for former members, explained Telemaque.
Inter-America’s ministerial association is providing the Logos software support tools for 1,000 of its pastors annually in a special agreement that will enhance the pastors’ study of the Bible for sermon preparation and academic research. “Pastors will have access to the electronic library with a collection of books to improve their preaching,” said Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary for the church in Inter-America.
The ministerial association will coordinate with the unions the amount, payment processes, and distribution of the software packages. Plans are for more IAD pastors to have access to the Logos software in the near future.
Regional leaders shared the main activities scheduled for next year, including a summit to define the future of the church in the territory for 2020 through 2025. It is scheduled for September 6-11, 2019, in Cancun, Mexico. The meetings will bring together division administrators, directors, union administrators, and stewardship directors, as well as local field presidents and division institution presidents and financial administrators, leaders said.
Executive committee members also voted on upgrading three missions to conference status. The new conferences are located in the Caribbean, Panama, and Cuba unions. Union leaders will adopt the “I Will Go” strategic focus of the Adventist world church for 2020-2025, as well as a number of other programs and activities. Union leaders also reported on outstanding evangelism activities, challenges they faced, community impact during the year, and more.