Efraín Velázquez (right) president of the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary addresses board members during business meeting in Miami, Florida, United States, on May 2, 2023, while Pastor Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division and chair of the board listens and looks through documents. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

May 9, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Two institutional boards overseen by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) recently reported development, financial progress, and plans for the coming years. Board members met for the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary (IATS) and the Board of Higher Education on May 2nd and 3rd, 2023, respectively, during the IAD Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings in Miami, Florida, United States.


Dr. Efrain Velázquez, president of IATS and secretary of the board, began the meetings by stating the mission and vision of the seminary. “IATS specializes in theological education of missional leaders in a creative and scholarly environment for the Church, primarily in the Americas,” he stated. “The Seminary serves a learning community of culturally-ethnically diverse leaders in their own cultural and national contexts. IATS graduates lead a life of witness and service. They minister, proclaim the Hope, and disciple worshiping communities based on Scriptural foundations.”

Abilio Cima, under treasurer of the IAD and vice president of finances of IATS, during his financial report to board members on May 2, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Board members were briefed on visits to seminaries across the territory, biblical resources available, pastoral conferences and programs held in person and online during the year and scheduled for the upcoming months.

IATS, which offers masters and doctoral degrees to ministers throughout the IAD, reported that as of 2023, there are 507 students enrolled. Most students are enrolled at the Montemorelos University, followed by Central American Adventist University and Antillean Adventist University.

IATS leaders reported that they are revising the curriculum to be more based on the mission and vision of the seminary, on graduate profile, and program objectives. In addition, the seminary plans to work on a special project to have a unified database of syllabuses, modify the process of constructing each course, as well as update assessment processes.

Pastor Elie Henry (right) hands the Angel Manuel Rodríguez Excellence Award to Jorge Torreblanca (left) for his commitment and service to IATS during the past 13 years, while Pastor Efraín Velázquez (center) looks on. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

In his report to the IATS board, Abilio Cima, IAD under treasurer and acting vice president of finances for IATS, reported that this year’s finances as of April compared to April 2022 shows a steady improvement. “We praise God for the financial behavior of IATS and the support of the unions and local fields to continue using the resources of the Division towards the mission of the church and revert back to you,” said Cima. In addition, Cima reported that 67 percent of the accumulated budget for the year has been used, “which means we are spending less,” he said.

Board members were also briefed on strategies and upcoming program effectiveness evaluation, their distance learning, and much needed personnel technological improvements for faculty and students.

IATS Board also voted to grant the Angel Manuel Rodriguez Excellence Award to Jorge Torreblanca, who is retiring after serving at IATS for 13 years.  Torreblanca served as theology professor, PhD program coordinator, and editor of TeoBiblica magazine, among other responsibilities.

Faye Patterson (left), education director of the IAD reports board members on the progress of Adventist Educational System across the territory while Pastor Leonard Johnson (right), executive secretary of the IAD and chair of the Board of Education and Higher Education on May 3, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Board of Education and Higher Education

At the start of her on Adventist Education report to the Board, Dr. Fay Patterson, education director of the IAD, began by stating that the church continues to operate 910 pre-, primary and secondary schools with 156,263 students in 2022, a jump from 112,824 students enrolled in 2021. In universities and seminaries, there were 20,119 students enrolled in the 13 universities, a difference from 2021, which had 16,364 students.

The numbers are positive since before the pandemic, said Dr. Patterson. “Even amid challenges, our schools and universities grew.”

Enrollment at Adventist school K-12 grades saw an average 42 percent Adventist students to 58 percent non-Adventists attending the educational system. Universities showed an average of 63 percent of Adventists enrolled.

Statistics on the number of students enrolled in Adventist schools across the IAD from 2019 to 2022. [Image: IAD Screenshot]

Patterson reported that there were 981 baptisms among students across schools. “We have been growing and we have teachers, chaplains, and principals doing their work in fulfilling the mission.

In addition, she said that 66 percent of secondary schools are accredited, and 98 percent of tertiary schools are 98 percent accredited.

Several initiatives in 2022 included a recent leadership symposium for teachers and educators, an international research conference, certification trainings and more.

Nearly 1,000 students were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church throughout the Adventist educational system in the IAD. [Image: IAD Screenshot]

Board members voted to incorporate two schools into the Adventist educational system in the South Central American Union and the North Colombia Union. In addition, board members voted in a schedule of upcoming evaluations of dozens of secondary schools between the years 2024-2028.

Two new programs were approved at two Adventist universities including a Master of Science degree in Nursing at Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica and two Bachelors of Science degrees, one in Nutrition and Dietetics, and another in Nursing at the University of Southern Caribbean University in Trinidad

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