A strong focus on mission flavored the 2023 Year-End Meeting of the Division Executive Committee of the South Pacific Division (SPD).
Under the theme “Chosen for Mission,” the meetings were held November 8-9 in the Ella Hughes Chapel at Avondale University in Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia. Delegates from across the South Pacific were joined by General Conference vice president Billy Biaggi, undertreasurer Ray Wahlen, and David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
The meetings began with inspirational worship sessions each morning, setting the tone for the day’s deliberations. Time was regularly dedicated to prayer.
The first day featured a diverse range of reports, beginning with the secretary’s report and followed by updates from the four union presidents. Leaders from the SPD institutions — Adventist Media, Avondale, Sanitarium, Adventist HealthCare, and Pacific Adventist University — provided mission and ethos reports.
A notable highlight was the presentation of citations to individuals who have significantly contributed to the church’s mission. Leaders recognized Clifton and Karen Maberly for their missionary service in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Egypt, and Australia, amassing a combined service record of more than 72 years. Clifton Maberly received the citation in person from SPD president Glenn Townend.
A posthumous citation acknowledged the outstanding service of Kelvin Peuser to the SPD. Peuser worked in education and finance and was recognized for his dedication to mission and integrity, and his commitment to professionalism. He served for 16 years as associate chief financial officer (CFO) for the SPD — the longest serving associate CFO in the Division’s history. The citation was presented to Peuser’s widow, Belinda, at his memorial service on November 5.
Reports were also presented by Adventist Technology; SPD legal counsel, Igor Radonjic; the Ministry and Strategy Team on discipleship, stewardship, and health; the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) South Pacific; and other members of leadership.
The second day began with the CFO’s report, which generated substantial discussion. Reports were also presented by the SPD departments of education, communication, public affairs and religious liberty, field and ministerial, women in ministry, and Adventist Mission.
Associate officer Eva Ing provided reflections on the 2020-2025 SPD strategic plan and funding process. A development committee has been established to oversee and guide the strategic planning process, working toward a refined plan for the 2025-2030 quinquennium.
Commenting at the conclusion of the meetings, SPD president Glenn Townend welcomed the focus on mission.
“We are reintroducing mission partnerships between conferences and missions within our Division,” Townend said. “We are challenging these entities to actually create places for volunteers, and we are wanting to send volunteers to other places to serve and to learn.
“We’ve adopted the Southern Asia Pacific Division and we are wanting to send missionaries there, and we prayed and discussed how we could do that. Our budgeting and finance report looked at how we could keep serving mission and the big challenges that we have there. And in our secretary’s report we looked at the fact that although we are doing mission well, we still have a [member] retention challenge and we want to close that back door better and do research there with our strategic planning,” Townend said.
Trim also appreciated the mission focus. “A highlight of the last two days for me has been the overwhelming commitment to the Church’s mission, whether it be in Papua New Guinea, or the Polynesian islands or the Melanesian islands, or in Australia and New Zealand that are so secular and postmodern, there’s a determination to find the right way to do mission according to the local context.”