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The following is a summary of G. Alexander Bryant's report to the 2016 North American Division Year-End Meeting.
Executive secretary G. Alexander Bryant followed president Daniel R. Jackson in giving his annual report during the first day of the North American Division Year-End Meeting (NAD YEM) on Oct. 28, 2016.
Bryant opened with figures indicating that growth in the NAD has been “fairly steady” during the past 10 years. Bryant remarked on the up swing in growth in 2009, the designated year of evangelism, as well as the slight growth experience in the NAD during 2015. He said, “In 2015, the church was distracted . . . But NAD still continued to stay focused on mission.”
|G. Alexander Bryant gives the secretary's report during the NAD's Year-End Meeting on Oct. 27.
Photo by Pieter Damsteegt
The report was divided into five sections: membership, accessions, missionaries, adjustments, and interests. As of Sept. 30, 2016, overall membership and church numbers for Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America were reported as 1,231,006 members; 5,493 churches; and 858 companies.
According to the report, Southwestern Union Conference leads in membership growth during the past five years.
Accession rate (members who joined by baptism and profession of faith) for 2015 was 3.07 percent; and during the past six years 227,782 individuals joined the church in North America. Baptisms and professions of faith in 2015 numbered 37,607; which is a daily average of 103.
After recognizing the various streams of evangelism helping to increase membership, Bryant invited Elden Ramirez, director of the Office of Volunteer Ministries, to report on missionaries. Ramirez shared how both long-term and short-term mission workers and volunteers has risen.
“As of Oct. 10, our 2016 NAD long-term volunteers total 548,” said Ramirez. “These are 38 more long-term AVS [Adventist Volunteer Service] missionary volunteers than the previous year. And we are very excited to report that our GMM [Guam Micronesia Mission] territory, even though it is a small mission in membership, sent 30 long-term AVS missionaries.”
Ramirez added: “There were 11,415 more short term missionary volunteers (service projects two weeks or less) last year. The total in 2015 was 58,950.”
Ramirez also reported that the total AVS volunteers as of Oct. 10, 2016, was 59,499, “which clearly indicates that with the rest of the AVS missionaries to be voted throughout the end of the year, we will surpass 60,000 missionary volunteers in 2016. In comparison with last year, that’s a grand total of 11,964 additional missionary volunteers.”
In conclusion, Ramirez asked delegates to “keep our volunteer missionaries in prayer. A lot have given their life in service, and are all alone around the world. If you know any of them, reach out and let them know you love them and are praying for them.”
|Ethnic statistics in the North American Division
Bryant gave some sobering statistics in the next segment of his report on member adjustments. Explaining that adjustments occur because of letter transfers, deaths, dropped members, and missing members, he shared more statistics gathered from members in North American by eAdventist, church membership software for the NAD.
Noting that “for every two we brought in we lost one,” Bryant called the loses “significant.” He also shared that when former members were polled, 24 percent thought highly of the church but felt they could not live up to its standards.
Based on survey results, Bryant deduced that “Many of our churches would be overflowing if we could just find a way to find those who we have lost.
“These people are saying, ‘I had no issues with the church,’” added Bryant. “That is what we call low-hanging fruit. Those people can easily be won back to the church.”
And 40 percent stated that when they left no one contacted them. “The answer is modeling the life of Jesus Christ. Being the shepherd,” said Bryant.
Bryant concluded his report sharing facts and statistics on trends in Adventism and other denominations, including member demographics, spiritual practices (i.e., Bible study, attending Sabbath school), and programming offered in churches. He also gave an impassioned plea for programs to help retain young adults, citing that the lowest church participation came from members age 13-34.
|Statistics on total accessions after adjustments, for the period of 2009-2015
“I still believe this is the Lord’s church; and God has called this church for such a time as this. Gather all His children home, even our young adults,” said Bryant. "Those figures represent our children, our friends and family. [Let’s] bring a special revival and awakening to the Adventist Church. I believe God is calling us to this today.”
Bryant’s final words garnered spoken “amens” and applause: “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the church whose head is Jesus; a church whose help is the Holy Spirit;, and a church whose focus is the great gospel commission.”
— Click here to find a downloadable report with findings and statistics presented in the secretary's report.