Seventh-day Adventist leaders and staff of the Inter-American Division (IAD) headquarter office took time in early January to reflect on the blessings 2016 brought to the church across the territory and looked on blessings ahead despite the challenges the new year may bring.
The nearly 100 leaders and staff met in Miami, Florida, Jan. 3, to pray together, review church and financial growth in 2016, and touched on initiatives and activities aimed at sharing the gospel across cities and communities this year.
“We must look at what God has done for His church, what He’s currently doing and will do for His people, trusting Jehovah and His Word,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, as he addressed the leadership.
“Continue to trust God, do good, and show those around you that you are sons and daughters of God,” said Pastor Leito.
Sharing the message of God’s love in Inter-America during 2016, brought the membership to 3,710,400 (as of September 2016) spread out in 24 unions, 150 local fields, and 21,847 churches and congregations, reported IAD’s Executive Secretary Dr. Elie Henry. The growth represents an increase of more than 94,000 members as of Sep. 2016, since the previous year, when the auditing of church membership figures is factored in, he added. More than 138,000 new members were baptized, not counting the last quarter baptism figures of 2016 still pending.
“We are seeing progress as more and more of our local churches are keeping their membership books up-to-date,” explained Henry.
According to Henry, 19 of the 24 unions are already implementing the Adventist Church Membership System. The remaining unions will be on board by the end of the year.
“The church continues to grow and moving ahead thanks to the grace of God,” said Henry. But there is much more to conquer in the IAD territory, which includes a population of 290 million people, he said. “We have a great challenge ahead as there is much more to conquer for Christ around us,” Henry explained.
The challenge to reach more with the message of the gospel will rely on church member involvement in committing to the mission in reaching their communities, IAD administrators said.
“Our church members are so generous,” said Pastor Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of the church in Inter-America while he presented the financial stability seen in 2016 and projected strategies ahead for 2017. “We thank God because He has opened His hand to pour out blessings across the Division territory.”
Verduzco reported that the church in Inter-America is financially stable even with the legal, fiscal, and economic environment changing in the last five years. “We are following the changes across the countries in our territory and we are taking the necessary measures to address any challenges ahead,” he said.
One major challenge includes the soft local currencies in countries throughout the territory, affecting the overall operating income of the IAD, said Verduzco. The budget has been set for 2017, including measures to regulate expenses more carefully and continue to motivate members to be financial partners in the mission of the church.
Creating a spiritual environment that leads church members to seek God daily for a spiritual revival and transformation to share the gospel is what will continue to be on the top of the list this year as the second year of the current quinquennium will see the church focused on the “Lord Transform Me” initiative—which seeks to inspire church members to seek a spiritual transformation through a life of prayer and Bible study.
"May our commitment to God be such that we can be used as vessels of honor"
Pastor Jorge Garcia, secretary of the church in Central Mexico, encouraged church leaders and staff to seek a closer relationship with Christ in the new year and to rid themselves of anything that distracts from true reformation in order to fulfill the mission ahead. “May our commitment to God be such that we can be used as vessels of honor, as men and women with a tender heart, ready to listen to the voice of God lead us,” said Garcia.
The worship program also featured a concert by the “Zion Quartet” of North Colombia.
Among scheduled IAD events this year include:
The Inter-American Division oversees the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean, The French Antilles, as well as Colombia and Venezuela, with more than 3.7 million members worshiping in 21,847 churches and congregations.
To learn more about IAD initiatives and events, visit us at interamerica.org