Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the Inter-American Division share his Secretariat report to church leaders during day two of the Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings in Miami, Florida, United States, May 2, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

May 3, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

In his report during Inter-American Division’s Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings, Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the IAD, reminded leaders that the sole purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to advance the mission.  More than 175 committee members got a closer look at membership growth, were briefed on recent secretarial trainings and evaluations as well as service employees and volunteers throughout the territory and outside of the IAD, on May 2. 2o23.

“From 1863 to 1901 the secretary’s role was essentially one of recording, collating, and presenting information and then communicating it to conference and mission leaders, and neither was it especially closely identified with mission,” said Johnson. Then it moved to one of joint chief planner for mission expansion and chief executive of the foreign mission program, he explained. By 1970, secretariat was concerned with procedural correctness, and it began to lose some focus on mission and was more focused on policies and getting things right, added Johnson.

Executive Committee members listen in during the Secretary’s report on May 2, 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

“Most recently, we seem to be entering a fourth phase, with Secretariat and its associated denominational entities at world headquarters shifting to a renewed focus on strategic planning for outreach and unreached people groups and on supporting and developing cross cultural mission and missionaries,” said Johnson.  A mission refocus is what will assist in realigning Secretariat teams to strengthen, service and fulfill the mission throughout the territory-wide region in the IAD, he said.

As of May 1, 2023, membership figures total 3,688,632 with 15,856 churches and 8,543 companies. For the year 2022, figures showed that there was one Seventh-day Adventist to every 81 people in the IAD territory population.

The pastor-to-member ratio averaged 1,155 with pastors leading an average of 4.9 churches. The pastor-to-member ratio saw the biggest number in the Belize Union with one pastor to an average of 3,142 members, followed by the El Salvador Union with one pastor per 1,930 members, and one pastor per 1,862 members in the Haitian Union.

The top three largest memberships include the Haitian Union with over 496,000, the Jamaica Union with over 336,000, and the Dominican Republic with 321,725, followed by the Chiapas Mexican Union with over 292,000 members.

Total membership added in 2022 totaled more than 194,000, including 142,626 baptisms, 15,875 former member’s baptisms, as well as others who joined the church through profession of faith, and transfers, reported Johnson.  Attritions or member subtractions for 2022 included 176,026 throughout 23 unions, including 60,890 dropped members in the books, as well additional figures registered as deaths, missing and letters granted registered.

[Image: IAD Screenshot]

“If we look at these two total numbers we see a net gain of 18,512 members, we praise God for that,” said Johnson. “Why do we compare these figures time and time again? Well it helps us advance in mission,” he said. To strengthen the mission,  Secretariat training must be on-going, he added.

Administrators of the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union were praised for their excellence in training and equipping secretariat teams in their local fields.

Pastor Gerson Santos, associate secretary of the General Conference, congratulated administrators of the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union and mentioned that outstanding performance in a new extensive development evaluation that is done every five years across world divisions.

Pastor Gerson Santons, associate secretary of the General Conference reads a special certificate of excellence after a thorough evaluation showed high marks for the work of the secretariat team at the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union. The three Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union administrators stand on stage for the award on May 2, 2023. (  [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

The secretary’s report also included updates of membership in the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS) across the unions, 30 IAD employees serving around the world, 15 IAD volunteers in service around the world, and 397 Vivid Friends or volunteers who served during the recent Pathfinder Camporee in Jamaica last month.

Pastor Johnson closed his report by reading statements by world church leaders and IAD leaders or former leaders to press on with pursuing the mission with excellence in the work that the Office of Secretariat must do.

Committee members voted to accept the secretary’s report for this year’s mid-year business meetings.

Dr. Efrain Velazquez, president of IATS takes a photo during IAD Executive Secretary Pastor Leonard Johnson during his report. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

To learn more about plans and actions taken during the IAD Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings, visit us at interamerica.org

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