Church Leadership Meetings Open With Evangelism Focus
A concentration on evangelism and mission highlighted the start of the Adventist Church's 2016 Spring Meeting on April 12.
Executive committee members of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists assembled with a focus on evangelism even before the official start of the world church’s 2016 Spring Meetings Tuesday, April 12, in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
During the morning’s devotional period, Italo Osorio, an enterprise system architect at the world headquarters spoke about the evangelistic potential found in today's information technologies. He said that technical staff in the church's divisions, unions and conferences should not be viewed as merely sitting around waiting for a computer to break so it can be repaired. Rather, IT professionals are aware of web and streaming technologies that can help carry the message to a lost world, as well as today's generation of mobile tech-savvy Seventh-day Adventists. He said recent research reveals 64 percent of church members are using mobile devices.
Osorio noted the world church's plan to launch "Vivid Faith," a web portal aimed at bringing church resources to Adventists, a compliment to applications that allow members to share books by Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the movement, with others. With "Vivid Faith," he added, "the plan is to show members they can go to some place" for help in their spiritual walk.
Pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference president, endorsed Osorio's comments about technology professionals who serve the church: "These are not 'techie' people in a corner," he declared. "They are filled with mission."
The evangelistic focus continued into the morning session, when Wilson noted outreach efforts undertaken through the world church. In October of this year, he said, members of the church leadership will spend an hour in neighborhoods near the suburban Maryland headquarters building offering church literature and a smoke alarm battery to homes in the neighborhood.
Combining practical service, the battery, with an offer of Bible literature, he said the hope is to generate interest in the Adventist message.
A far larger evangelistic outreach will take place in the East African nation of Rwanda at the end of May, according to Pastor Blasious Ruguri, president of the church's East-Central Africa Division. Virtually every town in Rwanda, which was stricken by inter-tribal genocide in 1994 and 1995, will host outreach campaigns by lay members and pastors. Nancy Wilson, wife of the General Conference president, will present a campaign in Gisenyi in Rwanda's western province, it was announced.Several dozen headquarters employees, including Adventist Review news editor Andy McChesney and associate editor Lael Caesar, will also preach at evangelistic series in Rwanda during the last half of May.
Pastor Wilson said that "by God's grace, we will baptize 100,000 people" on May 28, the concluding day of the campaign. Such a membership jump would bring the Rwandan Seventh-day Adventist Church membership to over more than 600,000, he noted.
WOMEN’S EVANGELISTIC FOCUS
In reporting on the world church’s ministries to women -- a group general vice president Ella Smith Simmons referred to as “the majority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church membership” -- Heather-Dawn Small, director of women’s ministries said the general theme of “Total Member Involvement” translated into to “Total Women’s Involvement” during the current quinquennium.
Small said the goal was to reach as many of the estimated 10 million Adventist women as possible, and to view ministry as holistic: “We believe the whole person is involved in ministry, and if there is one area that is defective, their ministry is not going to be effective,” she said.
She noted the activities of Adventist women worldwide. In Spain, young women hold small group Bible studies that involve neighbors. In Madagascar, 6,000 Adventist “Homes of Healing” promote health ministry and Bible studies, while in Angola, similar programs have already led to 83 baptisms.
Adventist women in Moscow offer a “Bread and Cereal” service that distributes foodstuffs to the needy, in turn leading to interest in spiritual matters. “When a person is fed and given a kind word, it might attract attention to the Bible; we hear it all the time,” Small noted.
Small said the recent advisory session of women’s ministry leaders issued calls to church leadership for more funding and equity for women’s ministry workers, some of whom serve without pay or expense reimbursement; for the church to reaffirm its stand against abuse; and to oppose Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, which is seeping into Western nations along with a rising tide of refugees from nations where it is practiced.
Pastor Wilson endorsed all three resolutions from the women’s ministry team, noting, “we need to protect the health, not just physical but also the psychological health of women.”
Other Tuesday morning presentations and actions centered on administrative matters as well as reports from the church’s Health Ministries and its Public Affairs and Religious Liberty arms.
On the administrative front, political exigencies have led to designating the Trans-Caucasus Union Mission as a “union of churches with mission status” within the Euro-Asia Division. The area includes Azerbaijan, Armenia and Khazakstan.
Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries Director, highlighted a myriad of outreach programs including a retooled smoking-cessation effort, that attract public attention to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its spiritual message. He noted that the church’s 2014/2015 “sharing book” titled “Health & Wellness” was so popular that it has become the most-translated outreach book other than those from the writings of church co-founder Ellen G. White.