Thirty church leaders from across the South Pacific Division (SPD) gathered for a face-to-face residential retreat in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, from September 25-29, 2022, to conclude a nine-month leadership program through the recently established General Conference Global Leadership Institute (GLI).
Facilitators of the LeadLab retreat included GLI associate director Randy Siebold and director Erich Baumgartner, as well as Juan Prestol-Puesán, recently retired General Conference treasurer. At the retreat participants were required to present a practical project they’re implementing in their current workplace through their spheres of influence that integrates all the GLI program learning components. Some conference presidents and union personnel attended to hear this report.
The GLI was established to deliberately grow leadership capacity across the global divisions of the world church and involves a series of stepped experiences, programs, and online resources. The SPD is strategically focused on leadership development and the GLI model aligns well with a highly experiential focus where participants see how God has been shaping their leadership through the years.
Twenty-five leaders from across the SPD territory have been participating in a pilot group in both professional certificate and graduate certificate programs.
“The strength of the program lies in the way it integrates the spiritual aspect of God-centered leadership with commercial models of leadership,” SPD leadership development manager Dean Banks said. “This is often missing but is critical to leading in the Adventist Church context.”
South Australian church pastor William Moala said the program has given him a broader perspective of what it means to be a leader.
“I now see myself as a mentor and coach to my members,” he said. “Amazingly, for the first time in years I did not feel like I was on my own. Overall, the LeadLab journey has set me on a path to being more in love with ministry than when I first started my pastoral journey some nine years ago.”
Trans-Pacific Union Mission education director Mele Vaihola said she was inspired by the reflection times, group discussion, and spiritual enrichment by the presenters. “LeadLab has helped me grow and has given me a total new approach to my leadership style,” she said.
For Victorian church pastor Piroska Vranyakne Feith, LeadLab has transformed her walk with God. “[It has] taken me to a deeper relationship with Him, which I haven’t experienced before,” she said.
“It also transformed my leadership by unlocking my potential. The course has made me implement knowledge and gain invaluable skills that turned into habits,” she said.
Australian Union Conference family ministries director Sylvia Mendez said, “I believe what has been most impactful about being a part of the LeadLab journey is the transformational power of allowing ourselves to truly see how God has been working in our lives right from the beginning.”
The SPD is now looking at how it can strategically align and add value to the GLI in the future with opportunities for graduate participants to become learning coaches and trained facilitators for future programs.