Top administrators of the Inter-American Division Ivelisse Herrera (left) Pastor Elie Henry (center) and Leonard Johnson (right) begin the church’s Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings in Miami, Florida, United States, May 1, 2023.  [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

May 1, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

At the start of the business meetings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) today, executive committee members reaffirmed their mission, vision, and value statements as a prelude to a larger commitment to expand the gospel around the world.  Coined as Mission Refocus, the initiative was brought about months ago by the General Conference to encourage divisions, attached unions and institutions to consider what they can do to help high-priority mission areas that may be greater than their own.

“’Mission Refocus’ is not something that is so new nor something we are coming up with to talk about mission again but it’s about trying to see what we can do going outside of our comfort zones, out of our territory to reach other people groups or urban areas,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the IAD. As Pastor Henry addressed the more than 175 leaders who are gathered at the church headquarters in Miami, Florida, United States, he appealed to administrators of the 24 unions and institutions to advance the gospel and to assist three specific countries for a mission commitment of five years.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry speaks during to the more than 175 committee members on the Mission Refocus initiative from the General Conference that Inter-America will be participating in through the coming months. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Committee members voted to adopt the city of Bangkok in Thailand, Uzbekistan—a Central Asian nation, and Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa.

“We want to be engaged intentionally and work with the local divisions to partner in what their pressing needs are to advance the work of the gospel,” said Pastor Henry. The list of countries under the world church’s Mission Refocus Adopt-a-Territory/People Group initiative was presented to the church’s annual council leaders back in October, 2022, said Pastor Henry.

The Puerto Rican Union administration was the first to identify two budgets to use to assist in the three chosen options for support.  Pastor Luis Rivera, president of the Puerto Rican Union, said he had been motivated to commit to partnering right away. “Ever since I was a little boy, the songs and stories of missionaries left an impression and motivated me to serve,” said Rivera. “As I’ve grown up in denominational service and seen close up the enormous challenges in the mission field, I have felt inspired to collaborate, so when this call from the General Conference came about this plan it was the opportunity to join in.”

Church leaders from the IAD’s 24 unions listen in during the devotional service at the start of the meetings on May 1, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

The idea now is for one and later two missionaries supported by the Puerto Rican Union to serve in the specific place that God will reveal, said Rivera. “The plan is to have a five-year cycle where we can have local people supporting this global mission, and we know that this will benefit many.”

During his devotional message, Pastor Gerson Santos, associate secretary of the General Conference, encouraged church leaders to refocus the idea of mission, ensuring that there are funds that are “redirected to send to frontline missionaries to assist in the planting of churches,” said Santos. “We need to see how we can join forces and partner with different entities [of the church] in different places.”

Bangkok is a large city of 17 million people, has 120 Adventist congregations and plenty of great challenges, said Santos. There are about 14,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the city which averages one Adventist per 5,000 persons. Uzbekistan also has mission challenges, with most people closed to the gospel, explained Santos. “God is inviting us to commit to the mission of the church as part of the body of Christ to support in missions,” he said.

Pastor Gerson Santos, associate secretary of the General Conferences, delivers the devotional message at the start of IAD’s Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings on May 1, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

IAD administrators are waiting for specific needs to move forward and invited unions and institutions throughout the territory to partner with the Mission Refocus initiative.

Montemorelos University Board

President of Montemorelos University Ismael Castillo shared with board members and executive committee leaders that for years the Adventist institution in northern Mexico has supported workers in the mission field, especially recently in the 10/40 Window– the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The area is approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s population lives in this area.

Castillo said Montemorelos University recently received visits from five evaluating committees and the university received glowing marks.

The university, which has been celebrating its 50th anniversary since the institution received university status in May of 1973, is the “only Adventist university in the world that has the highest rank in academic offers including institutions in the United States,” said Castillo.

University President Dr. Ismael Castillo reports during Montemorelos University Board meetings while Pastor Elie Henry, (left) IAD president and chair of the board looks on.[Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Montemorelos University, an institution overseen by the IAD, offers 58 undergraduate programs, 8 specialty programs, 25 master programs, and 6 doctorate programs.

“We praise God because all of these programs are authorized by the government, they are valid and we pleased to offer so many,” said Castillo.

The university is recovering slowly from the pandemic years. In 2022 there were 1,768 students, and this year a total of 1,876, an increase of 6.10 percent said Castillo.

University leaders reported stable finances for the 2022 school year and the most recent auditing report.

Borad members raise their hands to vote the financial report presented during Montemorelos University board meetings. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Board members also voted in Alejandro Garcia, director of the School of Engineering and Information Systems, as the new Academic Vice President. He replaces Raquel Korniejczuk, who will retire at the end of the month.  In addition, Daniel Gutierrez was voted in as director of the School of Engineering and Technology; Ruben Hernandez as coordinator of the architecture career, and Lucio Olmedo as the coordinator of the School of Psychology postgraduate program. Also, Milton Jara of the Colombia Adventist University was invited to lead as director of the School of Education.

Board members took a vote of gratitude for the school sessions from 2021 to 2023.

“We want to ensure that the next generation of professors and faculty adhere to the philosophical framework of Adventist education,” Castillo said.

Church leaders also voted on a recent Consensus Statement from the General Conference, Division and Attached Union Officers on the Reaffirmation of the Biblical Criteria for Pastoral Ministry and the Biblical Teaching on Human Sexuality Statement.

Pastor Luis Rivera, President of the Puerto Rican Union leads in prayer during a session during day one of the Mid-Year Meetings on May, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

A task force commission on Human Sexuality in the IAD has been voted for the dissemination of information and recommendations from the General Conference’s Task Force.  The commission will include department and ministries leaders from the IAD Office.

IADPA Board

The Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA) which provides resources to 19 of the 24 unions in the IAD, saw administrators briefing board members on sale trends during 2022, the cost-and-expense sales average and how it profited the publishing association.

There was an increase of six percent in sales from 2021 to 2022, reported Ana L. Rodriguez, vice president of sales and marketing at IADPA. “Every single one of the categories had considerable increases and slowly what happened through the pandemic is more in the past,” said Rodriguez. Schools, literature evangelists and churches are making good use of the printed materials, she added.

IADPA President Saul Ortiz begin his report to the board in the afternoon session on May 1, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

In addition, the 88 IADPA bookstores saw an increase of 70 percent in total sales for 2022, with the Caribbean Union reporting the greatest percentage of 13 percent compared to the rest of the unions.

Already in the first quarter of 2023, there has been an increase of 53 percent in sales compared to the first quarter of 2022.

“We consider this so significant. We see our schools returning to normalcy and we thank God for His blessings,” Rodriguez said.

Textbook sales in 2022 saw its best year ever, topping the peak of the year 2019.

New books on health, spiritual growth, recipe books, and books for literature evangelists to sell, among others, were introduced during the board meeting.

Anita Rodriguez, vice president of sales and marketing for IADPA reports that sales have increased significantly since 2021. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Committee members were updated on the Global Disciple-Making Evangelism program for total member involvement, which has resulted in 16 unions applying it and five more on its way to implement it in their territory.  In addition, leaders were updated on the General Conference’s “Back to the Altar: An Inside-Out Revolution” initiative to engage members and their families in in-depth study of the bible, personal devotion and prayer.

To learn more about decisions made during Inter-American Division’s Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings this week, visit us at interamerica.org

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