November 3, 2021 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
Inter-America’s Year-End Executive Meetings began earlier today in the spirit of the blessings, dedication, and commitment to soul-winning, education and service that has characterized church members across the territory since it was officially organized as a World Division nearly 100 years ago.
Drawing from the overall theme of the Year-End Meetings, “Celebrating His Providence and Affirming our Values,” Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the church in Inter-America, began his report by highlighting individuals who played a part in overseeing membership and church growth through the work in secretariat since 1922.Leaders like S. E. Kellman who was the very first executive secretary appointed in 1922, to others like W. E. Murray appointed in 1946, to Bender Archbold in 1966, Agustin Galicia in 1990, Elie Henry in 2010, and many more in between those years, were instrumental in serving and building a strong leadership as executive secretaries for the church in Inter-America, said Johnson.
“In 1987, the Inter-American Division (IAD) reached a historic one million mark in membership; 2000 we reached 2.7 million and in 2008, we crossed the 3-million-mark,” said Pastor Johnson.
To see how the church in Inter-America grew from a membership of 8,146 in 1922 to more than 3.6 million members today, is amazing, he said. “We praise God for what He has done and continues to do in the Division and we must never forget our history and on whose shoulders we stand.”Membership in 2021
The membership in Inter-America stands, as of the second quarter of this year, at 3,694,454. There are 23,602 congregations, which is the sum of 15,194 organized churches and 8,408 companies, reported Pastor Johnson. Recorded baptisms as of June total 72,592 and 299 new congregations have been organized which average 24.9 new congregation each month this year, he said. It’s a significant increase from 2020, which saw 94 new congregations organized, which averaged 7.8 new congregations each month.
Among the unions with the highest membership, the Haitian Union remained on top with more than 488,000 members, followed by the Dominican Union with more than 339,000 members. The third highest is the Jamaica Union with more than 329,000.
Pointing to the pastor-to-member ratio and pastor-to-church ratio, Johnson reported that each pastor in Inter-America oversees an average of more than 1,000 members and 4.7 churches. If combined with congregations it goes up to 7 churches each, he said.In a population of more than 300 million throughout the territory, the statistics show that there is one Seventh-day Adventist to every 82 people, said Johnson. “This paints a picture, conveys a message into what we need to focus and do to carry the gospel to the rest of the population,” Johnson said.
Losses in membership audits
Johnson not only pointed to additions to the membership but losses which come to light as 23 of the 24 unions are active in ongoing auditing of its congregations through the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS).
This year, figures show that 80,432 were recorded as losses –which refers to letters granted, deaths, and dropped and missing members. The member losses graph showed the breakdown by union, and how it affected each membership in terms of losses. It’s part of the process of auditing books and is helping to show a clearer picture of what we have, Johnson said. The only missing union to be active in the ACMS is Haiti, which recently enrolled in ACMS.Pastor Erton Kohler, executive secretary of the Adventist World Church, praised Johnson for the detailed and inspiring report to the board which clearly shows God’s blessings across the IAD.
“You as a division have been strong in taking part in the work of ACMS,” said Kohler. “It’s a very challenging work. Adjustments are normal and necessary when we talk about adding members and subtracting members.” These adjustments can translate into strong losses, but “we are a transparent church,” he said. “That’s part of the work but our priority is the mission of the church, in discipling, in sharing the message of the gospel.”
Committee members were informed that there are 27 international service employees throughout the IAD — 32 IAD Adventist volunteers serving in the world church territory, and 15 volunteers serving in the IAD.Zoom meetings and travels
Pastor Johnson also reported on the 26,977 Zoom meetings held through the IAD’s account, including virtual meetings by division headquarters as well as by the 24 unions, from Jan. to Sep 2021. So far in 2021, only 32 traveling reports from IAD leaders have been reported to include local field sessions and meetings, among others.
“We just pause to thank God for all that has been reported and what we have been able to do through the leading of the Spirit of God,” said Johnson. “There is much more work to be done but we go forward, mindful that we have been elected and chosen to serve, to be active and deliberate in fulfilling the mission of this church in this great division.”
The Inter-American Division oversees the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean, French Antilles, Venezuela, and Colombia. The church operates hundreds of schools and universities, hospitals and clinics, ADRA offices, and more.
To learn more about Inter-America’s Annual Year-End Meetings and its voted initiatives and activities, visit us at interamerica.org