April 6, 2022 | Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti | Jean Carmy Felixon and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
In an effort to help Seventh-day Adventist current and future leaders understand the reality they face as they minister in Haiti, leaders and faculty at the Haitian Adventist University (L’Université Adventiste d’Haïti) held a special bible conference for a group of administrators, district pastors and theology students. The conference was the first in years held across Haiti, Mar. 11-12, on the campus of the Adventist institution in Diquini, Carrefour—a residential commune in Port-au-Prince.
The growing insecurity and conflicts between armed civilians, the closing of places of worship in certain regions, the limited number of church gatherings, frequent kidnappings and socio-political unrest, have driven church leaders to adjust to reaching the membership and retaining current and new members, said Pastor Edgard Etienne, dean of the Theology School at the Haitian Adventist University and main organizer of the conference.“Many of the pastors face insecurity, and that makes their ministry a bit complicated at this level,” said Etienne. “There are many challenges, and this conference was not about targeting all the challenges but we wanted to tackle some challenges related to leadership to start,” he said.
The 79 in attendance heard theologians from the university, union, the Inter-American Division, and the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, speak on pastoral ministry and mission in the 21st century, reaching the marginalized, leading in the midst of crisis, fulfillment of prophecy, technology, modern evangelistic methods, cross-cultural mission and more.
Parts of the bible conference was carried online on the church’s Home Media Haiti channel as well as the church’s L’Esperance radio station.Addressing the subject of the marginalized, Pastor Waitland Francois, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines, challenged leaders on their Christian and civic duty to make houses of worship more accessible and more inclusive to those with special needs. “It is not the marginalized who are unreachable, but it is us who are unreachable,” said Francois. “It is up to us to make ourselves accessible.”
Francois proposed to leaders and district pastors to appoint officers in all ministries to provide accessibility and sign language in congregations.
President of the Church in the Inter-American Division Pastor Elie Henry addressed the leaders online, thanked them for their commitment and dedication to preaching the gospel and reminded them of their mission to prepare a people for the Second Coming of Jesus.Pastor Pierre Caporal, president of the church in Haiti, spoke to pastors and theology students on the structure of the church organization and on the importance of networking together not only among local congregations but through the well-known institutions like the university, the Adventist hospital and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti.
Caporal reminded those attending the conference about understanding the context they live in today, and to better prepare ministers to reach others for the Kingdom of God. “Since the world is changing with new demands, knowledge and new challenges, it is necessary to revisit the formation that these pastors of the future are receiving so they can be more efficient in the service to the church,” said Caporal. Caporal informed leaders that the conference is just the first of many that the church across the nation wants to continue supporting.Mikneja Jahlleel Marcellus, a second-year student at Haitian Adventist University, said he was happy to take part in the conference where he was able to witness the unity of message among the speakers towards a strong and united church. “Our church is separated by geography and cultural differences, but it is not divided,” said Marcellus. “We are a real big family, we preach the same message, have one hope.” It’s about the need to keep the conversation going among many more leaders and pastors across Haiti, he added.
With a membership of nearly 500,000 across more than 1,214 churches and congregations led by more than 200 district pastors throughout Haiti, more and more top local leaders want to get to motivating its members to continue getting involved in the life of the church, even amid the challenges they face each day.
“We want to have future leaders ready to take up, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the challenges facing the church during an ever-changing world and continue in its mission in the proclamation of the Three Angels Messages,” Etienne said.Leaders are already planning to hold a bible conference annually.
Haitian Adventist University has the only theology school among the French-speaking territories in the Inter-American Division territory. Established in 1921, the university offers undergraduate degrees in business, education, engineering and new technologies, paramedical sciences, nursing, and theology.
To learn more about L’Université Adventiste d’Haïti, its programs and activities visit unah.edu.ht