Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders, community thought leaders, and AdventHealth board members, executives, and team members came together in Maitland, Florida, for AdventHealth’s 29th annual Conference on Mission, a three-day event centering around the organization’s mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.” This year, attendees were challenged to turn their attention forward and outward as they explored what makes faith-based health care relevant and distinct in their communities.
The conference’s 2019 theme, “Whatsoever You Do…,” is based on Christ’s words in Matthew 25:35-36 and 40 where He calls on His followers to show concern for the weak and the vulnerable—the “least of these.”
“We had a different kind of mission conference this year,” said Ted Hamilton, M.D., senior vice president and chief mission integration officer for AdventHealth. “We gathered not just to talk about mission, but to demonstrate it and to wrestle with the kinds of questions we may not necessarily have answers to.”
Throughout the three days, guest speakers, panelists, and participants discussed the role that faith-based health care plays in society now and how it will make an impact in the future. The keynote speaker, David Brooks, a widely-known commentator and author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for Moral Life, contrasted the ideas of personal success and being called to a greater purpose, highlighting moral character as the key to mission-driven leadership.
Ron Smith, AdventHealth board chair and president of the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, presented a devotion on modeling Jesus’ ministry, which kickstarted a morning of back-to-back panel discussions. During the “Who Is Our Neighbor? What Do We Owe Our Neighbor?” session, one of the panelists, Reverend Zina Jacque of the Community Church of Barrington in Illinois, posed the idea of a “poof” test—a test that essentially asks whether anyone would notice if one day we were suddenly gone. The sobering thought was accompanied by conversations around what it means to “extend” Christ’s healing ministry, and how it’s not simply about expanding into new markets, but about discovering new frontiers for fulfilling the organization’s missional calling.
In his response to the panel discussions, AdventHealth President/CEO Terry Shaw shared four key takeaways with attendees:
- We are the face of the Church in our community.
- We must think about who we need as partners to address the unmet needs of our community.
- We have to stand in the breach and be present when there appear to be no solutions.
- Something being too hard is not an excuse for not getting it done.
The 2019 Conference on Mission concluded with a Sabbath morning worship service featuring a mission spotlight on AdventHealth’s Global Mission Impact program and its current relief efforts in the Bahamas, followed by a sermon by Jimm Bunch, president/CEO for AdventHealth Hendersonville.
“I’ve been a part of AdventHealth for 30 years and the entire time our mission statement has been ‘Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ,’” Bunch said during his sermon. “It’s an inspired, God-given mission statement. And up until the last two days, I’ve paid the most attention to the words ‘Healing Ministry of Christ.’ This conference made me think of the first word: ‘Extending.’”
— Ingrid Hernández is senior communications specialist for AdventHealth.