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Adventist Christian Fellowship Institute Equips Students to "Be the Difference" on Their Campuses

Annual ACF meetings held in Berkeley, California, include "Is This Thing On" dialogue event.

ITTO audience at ACF Institute

On May 22, 2019, Adventist Christian Fellowship Institute attendees participate in the fourth "Is This Thing On?" live broadcast from Berkeley, California. Photo by Pieter Damsteegt

The 2019 Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) Institute was hosted at the University of California, Berkeley, on May 20-25. About 80 students from the U.S. and Canada attended. Some had attended previous years, but most of them were new to the ACF Institute. The theme for this year is “Be the Difference.”

The second annual Public Campus Ministers Conference was also held at the same location. Attendance increased from eight in 2018 to 45 this year from across the NAD.

ACF helped host the North American Division’s fourth installment of the live-streamed dialogue “Is This Thing On?” This provided the opportunity for public college and university campus students to interact with the three NAD officers during the broadcast from the Life Adventist Church of Berkeley.

Below is a summary of the events that took place at the 2019 institute.

Inside the ACF Institute

Each morning during the institute, Ron Pickell, pastor of the Life Adventist Church of Berkeley, chaplain of the Adventist campus ministry group at UC Berkeley, and, since 2005, the NAD Youth and Young Adult Ministries volunteer coordinator of ACF, led a Bible study in which students and campus ministers divided into small groups. The Bible study materials were co-authored by Terry Benson and Pickell specifically for the institute, and are intended to be used by student leaders with their ACF student groups next school year on their public campuses.


Student leaders join in the conversation with the North American Division officers during the 2019 ACF Institute Berkeley ITTO event. Photo by Pieter Damsteegt

The plenary sessions were led by Angelo Grasso from the Gainesville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Florida and Sikhu Daco from the General Conference Sabbath School department.

The ACF Student Association Constitution was reviewed this year with special interest given to the membership process and involvement by the students. It was explained that all students need to do to become members of the ACF Student Association is to register their ACF chapter on the website for the fall of 2019-2020 school year. Registration opens August 1.

Student Association officer elections were held. Out of eight acting officers, four positions were up for election or re-election according to the constitution. The eight student association officers that will serve for the 2019-2020 academic year are as follows:

• President – Lucien Nana Yobo, University of Houston, doctoral student

• Executive Secretary – Juliette Nyamanba, Texas A&M, doctoral student

• VP Logistics – Yolanda Chigiji, Smith College (Boston), Junior

• VP Resources – not filled

• VP Regions – Alex Delaola, Lansing Community College, Senior

• VP Networking – Jonathan Wheeler, Stanford University, doctoral student

• VP Communications – Victoria Lim, Ryerson University (Toronto), Senior

• VP Programming – Oscar Galvis Arce, University of Texas Austin, doctoral student

After ITTO

NAD president Dan Jackson, secretary Alex Bryant, and treasurer, Randy Robinson joined the ACF students and campus ministers for an evening of comradery and dialogue during ITTO. For almost two hours ACF students asked questions related to church administrative systems, educational perspectives, and financial support.

Following the event, the ACF Student Association officers proposed to the NAD the appointment of a full time Public Campus Ministry director at the NAD; additional budget/support for ACF Institute; more resource development for public campus ministry; and the development of mission opportunities for students to serve on public university campuses for one year (similar to programs such as Inter-varsity).

Public Campus Ministers Conference

During ACF Institute the NAD Public Campus Ministers Conference was held. This group grew from eight last year to 45 in 2019, and included pastors, chaplains, and conference youth and young adult directors from across the division. Attendees received practical training in working on public college campuses and with ACF chapters. Presenters included Ty Gibson, Ivan Omana (NAD Chaplaincy Ministries), Dan Curran (Campus Crusade for Christ), Brook Butler (Athletes in Action), Lane Campbell, Ron Pickell, Tracy Wood, Natasha Richards, Vandeon Griffin, Lane Campbell, and others. Plans are already underway for next year’s NAD Public Campus Ministers Conference.

Union Youth & Young Adult Directors Council

Each year during ACF Institute the NAD union youth directors and representatives attend the NAD Union Youth & Young Adult Directors Council. This year the council met for two days for strategic planning and involvement with ACF students. Meals were shared with students and each union director took the students from their union out for dinner. It was a time for ACF students to get to know their union directors and connect about public campus ministry in their union. Union directors in turn get to know the students studying in their territories and develop relationships with those who may serve as a student association senator representing their union.

ACF Institute 2020

ACF Institute 2020 is already being planned at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. Dates and information will be posted on when details are confirmed.