“I’ve never thought of ministry as a job. It has always been a calling,” said Alvin Kibble, vice president of the North American Division for Big Data + Social Media, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty, Literature Ministries, and Executive Coaching, Training & Development.
Kibble started the NAD 2019 Year-End Meeting morning on November 4 with a devotional entitled “Claiming the Promises of a Finished Work.” He read Matthew 24:3-14.
“I want to remind you about claiming the promise of the finished work. None of us were called to be administrators. Not one of us were elected to be administrators,” said Kibble.
“Where are our evangelists?” he continued. “None of us should be so busy that we can’t do a revival every year. Put down your harps, and pick up your trumpets. We have to model to this generation that we are a preaching ministry, a witnessing ministry. If you can’t do it yourself, take the budget and find a small-town preacher and do it with them. Model what we do best. When this gospel of the kingdom has been preached, then we can go home.”
Becoming a Delegate
Karnik Doukmetzian, General Conference (GC) general council, was asked to share, in light of 2020 GC Session approaching, how someone becomes a delegate, and other questions about church governance. He refreshed those gathered on the representative governance of the Adventist Church GC bylaws. The formula, he said, is based on membership percentage, “NAD has 6 percent of worldwide church membership. And that delegation is entitled a certain percentage on the nominating committee.” Doukmetzian explained that with the 6 percent plus a few other church leaders already designated as delegates, the number from the NAD is about 208 of 2,700-2,800 delegates.
“About 21 from the NAD out of some 300 will be on the nominating committee. Three officers are elected by the GC Session,” he added. “The NAD caucus will recommend to larger nominating committee the three individuals, which will then bring to the floor of session the recommendation for those positions.”
Christian Record Services
After the treasurer’s report, Diane Thurber, president of Christian Record Services (CRS), began her report with the promise found in Isaiah 42:16. “I believe the Lord works through His church and CRS to fulfill this promise,” she said. “God has preserved Christian Record Services for 120 years; we give God all the glory for any impact or success this ministry has.”
Thurber thanked Daniel R. Jackson, NAD president, for his leadership and support. She talked about the ministry’s finances, blind camps, the new Pathfinder Braille Honor that was unveiled at Oshkosh, and the Discover Bible studies that were translated with a grant from NAD Stewardship and in partnership with Voice of Prophecy. “We want those at our camps, and those using our resources to grow in their relationship with Jesus,” Thurber said.
Carla Baker, director of Women’s Ministries, began her report with the promise from Psalm 37: 23-24. “Jesus holds me by my hand, and he has never let me fall. I know you can all testify the same thing,” she stated.
Baker shared a report that included the recent conference in Florida. Women’s health was focus at the Whole and Holy convention where more than 1,000 gathered to serve the community, run a 5K, attend workshops, and fellowship together.
She explained that when she started in 2006, the department was producing free resources for local church women’s ministries. That shifted in 2009, with the enditnow campaign, to include awareness of abuse. Resources in English, Spanish, and French on abuse awareness and prevention soon followed.
“Anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues come from abuse,” Baker said. “So we created an anxiety and depression booklet in three languages that describe the symptoms, and where to get help.”
Biggest change came to the department four years ago, said Baker, when Erica Jones was promoted to assistant director, and started a ministry to teens and young adult women. Gorgeous2god was started as a blog, and is now on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. With the question and answer section of the G2G website the most popular, this ministry “continues to grow, there is such a need for godly social media,” Baker added.
Baker concluded by sharing the news that, for the first time, all the funds received from the sale of 2020 women’s devotional book, I Am Loved, will go to scholarships for women in the NAD since the devotional book for years has been selling almost exclusively in the NAD.
It was announced that Baker will soon be retiring.
It Is Written
It Is Written (IIW) speaker/director John Bradshaw talked about the new headquarters, which includes offices, meeting places, and large studio space for the NAD media ministry that is almost entirely self-funded. Calling It Is Written the “North American Division’s television voice,” Bradshaw shared how IIW is available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Google Play, and at itiswritten.tv.
“The ministry started as a television program supporting evangelism in many forms,” said Bradshaw. It was a 28 and a half-minute show, he said, and now “we are doing our best to be inclusive.” Bradshaw shared a video showing several collaborations with other media ministries across the division, local church programs, and much more. A video report was also shared on It Is Written’s Spanish language ministry, Escrito Está.
Bradshaw shared the story of how close to 1,000 people have been baptized, or made the commitment for baptism before the end of 2019, after they watched IIW and went to meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. “Through this evangelism initiative, with the Arizona Conference, IIW TV, Bible teaching, worship services, health evangelism, and other church ministries, we baptized so many,” he said.
From the business session floor, young adult delegates shared their interest in reaching out to collegiate ages with relevant content because they hate to see their peers leaving the church. “We want to collaborate with It Is Written,” was the reoccurring comment.
Kurt Johnson, IIW Bible School director, reported that Bibleinfo.com is shared with one million unique visitors per month from 200 countries. He also introduced a new Bible study website, Bibleschools.com, where church members can give Bible studies to people in their community. “This allows every church member to have their own personal Bible study website, customizable, including language, that they can use on their cell phone, tablet and personal computers.,” Johnson said.
At the end of the IIW presentation, Kevin Ames, SEO evangelist and web designer for Voice of Prophecy, reported how VOP partners with IIW and Discover Bible Study Guides, online, giving a short tutorial on how the website works.
Alignment and Mission Awareness
Paul Brantley, vice president for NAD Strategic Planning & Assessment, opened with asking the executive committee to vote yes/no in answer to this statement: “God wants His church to be the world’s best-run organization.” He said, “I believe, in the context of the Great Controversy, the church is to be a reflection of God to the universe.”
Brantley shared what the qualities are of excellent organizations, and said that the NAD does indeed have examples of organization with these qualities. One example was Castle Medical Center in Hawaii. Another was the Chosen International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A third example was the Oakwood [University] Aeolians. “These three organizations have this in common: alignment, and mission awareness,” said Brantley. He reminded delegates that the current NAD mission statement was unanimously voted at the 2011 YEM, which clearly identifies alignment and awareness of the mission.
“We must continue to be aligned to complete the mission. Students, educators, healthcare representatives, pastors, administrators, and members — everyone,” he said, closing with the promise in Ephesians 3:20-21.
Youth and Young Adult Ministries
The Youth and Young adult Ministries team of Tracy Wood, director, Armando Miranda, associate director, Vandeon Griffin, associate director, were joined by Ron Pickell, coordinator of Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) and pastor of the Life Adventist Church in Berkeley, California, as they gave their department report.
Wood read the promise text of Acts 2:17, 18. “The old men are not the visionaries, don’t miss it — if we believe we are living in the last days,” said Wood. “This intergenerational church, we are all part of it.” Wood shared that the NAD made special provision for two days to spend lunch with young adult delegates in dialogue at this year’s YEM.
Wood explained that in the past few years they’ve listened, and have now developed a young adult advisory that can operate at church, conference, union, and division levels. Griffin then shared that the department partnered with NAD communication and presidential on the live question and answer show “Is This Thing On?” in Berkeley, California, with the Adventist Christian Fellowship secular college and university student group. He mentioned that an ACF member is featured in the November 2019 Adventist Journey magazine. Miranda detailed resources available for young adult ministry.
“Union directors need to embrace young adults, let’s realign our functions. … AIA [Adventist Intercollegiate Association] and ACF contribute to the conversation, we will be bringing in campus ministries students to be part of the advisory to NAD,” said Wood. “We can’t finish the work without young adults. It has to happen this way.”
Another initiative the team shared was the Growing Young cohort , which is an Adventist grassroots movement across the NAD that can impact the church at all levels. Adventist Youth Institute Collaborative, a partnership with Andrews Theological Seminary and Center for Youth Evangelism, will function for training on how young adults can participate more fully in the church.
After a video on Growing Young, which essentially partners interested young adults with older, more seasoned church members who are leaders, from North Pacific Union Conference Pickell gave a short report on ACF. He said, “80,000 to 100,000 Adventists are on public campuses. ACF currently reaches a small percentage of these students, and nurtures faith of Adventists on public university campus, but they can also reach out to their friends. They can use the Crave kit to start evangelism on campus.”
The report concluded with information about the next public campus ministries effort, ACF Institute in July 2020.
Not a Death Story
Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Steve Hamilton talked about his experience during and after the fire. Hamilton lost his home as well as the church he serves. Close to $10,000 was collected during YEM from delegates to help with recovery.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is still in business in Paradise,” Hamilton said a year after the Camp Fire destroyed Paradise and surrounding communities. “One year of being embedded in a town that burned down: 390 houses of church members burned down; 13,000 homes in total burned down. Not only did homes burn down, but doctors’ offices, grocery stores burned down … most of our friends and family were displaced in places across the country.”
But being embedded in this community means something. Hamilton shared that Chico and Paradise, which have blended, will meet together with Adventist Health in the Paradise Performing Arts Center one year after the fire, “standing in solidarity with each other, remembering the fire, and looking to the future. Resurrection is the theme. This is not a death story for the town of Paradise, it’s resurrection. … that is the story that brings us life. May we live that life story in whatever community we live in.”
Gordon Bietz, associate director for higher education for the NAD, gave a summary of the Chicago summit from August 2018, and the declaration that outlined why colleges and universities should work together in an educational system. He shared reports on a collaboration taskforce that met several times in the past year.
Bietz reported that not only has there been no growth in NAD higher education, there is a steep decline. Fewer students are indicating religious preference and soon that won’t be on the forms that potential college students fill out, he explained. Less children born after the recession is also a factor. Bietz quoted from the Chicago declaration, “We cannot remain in our institutional and organizational silos and merely discuss these challenges any longer. This is not about the survival of one or two of our 13 schools. This is about creating a new form of Adventist higher education that leads the way in North America in providing the highest quality, affordable educational preparation for a life of service and a productive career. … We either fund the future or prop up a soon-to-be-obsolete past.”
Bietz shared the proposed “Innovation Journey,” a timeline toward consensus on collaboration and the strengthening of Adventist Higher education including meetings, website development, curation of data, and a “road show” where the group talks to all the key leaders involved in Adventist education.
Jackson asked the delegates to vote on the taskforce bringing an actionable report back to the 2020 YEM. It was voted 116 yes, 4 no, 1 abstain.
Lilya Wagner, Philanthropic Services for Institutions director, thanks for the division for funding PSI. “There really is no other organization like this,” commented Wagner. “Most of our churches or organizations could not afford this type of consulting help. Most of our organizations need fundraising help.”
“I find it very inspiring to work with people who have a vision and who want to do something good, and do it well.” Wagner told a few stories of how organizations have done well with fundraising, and she invited people to check out PSI’s website, which includes resources such as books, courses for church and school leaders, the new “fundraising fitness test,” and much more.
It was announced that Wagner will retire sometime in 2020.
Indianapolis Prayer Conference
The last presentation of the day is Carmelo Mercado, vice president of the Lake Union Conference, who shared plans the Lake Union and Indiana Conference are coordinating, conducting, and/or assisting with in Indianapolis and the surrounding area, before the GC Session. Some of these include Ignite Indiana, Impact Indiana, an April 2020 Pathway to Health clinic, evangelism initiatives with It Is Written, Escrito Está, Breath of Life, and many more NAD and GC initiatives.
The strategy comes from the Acts church, said Mercado, which was concerned with both “being” and “doing.”
A prayer conference, “Our United Cry,” is being organized for March 6-7, 2020, in the Indianapolis area. “This conference will be multicultural, multigenerational, and multilingual,” said Mercado. The conference will include TED Talk-style messages on prayer with breakouts for adults, youth, Hispanics, and refugees.