Emphasis on Breakout Sessions Create Safe Spaces to Discuss Mental Health, Social Unrest; Participate in Division Strategic Planning
A unique component of the 2020 Year-End Meeting of the North American Division was virtual breakout sessions that were curated to prompt specific, productive engagement among the division’s executive committee members via Zoom. From assisting in the strategic planning of the 2020-2025 quinquennium, to grappling with the church’s role in a time of social unrest, considerable time was spent activating leaders to consider hard questions, reimagine mission, and reflect on mental health of themselves and their constituents.
Every five years, department reports are shared at the division year-end meeting, following GC Session. Although the GC Session has been postponed to May 2021, the NAD ministries, services, institutions, and entities shared their reports during the NAD YEM held Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. The reports are organized here in the order they were shown, or scheduled to be shown.
On November 3, Bonita Shields, North American Division vice president for ministries, started the final breakout of the 2020 NAD Year-End Meeting. Shields explained that this mental health segment would include a survey, a video, and small group breakout sessions. She then introduced Angeline Brauer, DrPH, MHS, RDN, NAD Health Ministries director, who coordinated the poll that executive committee delegates answered through a Zoom pop-up.
Following a battle with cancer, Seventh-day Adventist music legend Max Mace passed to his rest November 4, 2020, one day before his 83rd birthday. His family said Mace was home in Placerville, California, United States, when he died.
The final day of the 2020 North American Division Year-End Meeting included the Oakwood University report, presentation by Sterling Volunteers, a “pastors with disabilities” report, NAD policy amendments, church manual and consent agenda items, several quinquennial department reports, and a special presentation and breakout session on mental health.
Before diving into his report, Robinson provided a framework for the financial state of the division against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and political issues. “We started out 2020 very strong financially, with double digit tithe increases through January and February,” he started. “But then in March the COVID-19 crisis arrived."
Executive Committee Members Receive Reports from the General Conference, Including Information on the 2021 GC Session
Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, delivered greetings to the division’s executive committee in-person. Thomas Lemon, GC general vice president, provided an update on GC Session, which was originally scheduled for July 2020 and was rescheduled to take place May 2021 as a result of restrictions set to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the NAD executive committee participated in official business dealings of Christian Record Services for the Blind and the Pacific Press Publishing Association.
YEM Secretary’s Report Centers on Membership, Missionaries, Training, and Effects of the Coronavirus
Kyoshin Ahn, executive secretary of the North American Division, delivered his first report in his newly-elected role on Sunday, November 1. Ahn’s report centered on membership within the NAD territory. As of December 31, 2019, there are more than 1.2 million Seventh-day Adventists in the North American Division worshipping in 5,621 churches and 880 companies.
The evening service highlighted stories of mission within the division’s territory that creatively adapted to the realities presented by the coronavirus disease pandemic. Kenneth Denslow, assistant to the president of the North American Division, and Jose Cortes, Jr., associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association, led virtual attendees through a series of video reports and live video-conferenced interviews that were streamed online.
During the divine worship service on October 31, 2020, G. Alexander Bryant, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD), said we need the Holy Spirit now more than ever. “God's Spirit, God's grace, God's willingness to give — He's more willing to give it to you than a father to give bread to a hungry child, but this gift to you is in accordance to your capacity and ability to receive it.”