In Jamaica there is one Seventh-day Adventist for every 12 citizens. That ratio is a testament to the decades-long work carried out by hundreds of local church elders across the nation.
Dozens of church elders were honored and recognized for their commitment and dedication to the mission of the church across the island, during a Leadership Summit organized by the Jamaica Union in Montego Bay, Jamaica, recently.
“I am the pastor I am, the leader I am, because of the [church] elders who stood with me at my local church and in the churches that I pastored,” said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Jamaica Union during a recent Elders’ Leadership Summit in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The summit served as a powerful reminder of the enduring strength of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica and the profound impact of its church elders, said Pastor Brown. “Through their unwavering faith, compassionate service, and steadfast commitment, these exceptional individuals have enriched the lives of countless members of the church and society at large and continue to be beacons of hope for unfolding generations.”
From the large delegation of over 1,600 church elders gathered at the Seventh-day Adventist Conference Center in Montego Bay, along with those who joined virtually, 111 were specially recognized with certificates and plaques for those who served more than 30 years and 40 years.
“Our church elders and leaders play a central role in evangelism and shepherding the local congregation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church here in Jamaica,” said Pastor Joseph Smith, ministerial secretary of Jamaica Union. “They give of themselves and their resources to ensure that the mission of Christ and the work of ministering to the members and the community are not compromised.” To this end, the union, conferences, and local church pastors are indebted to the elders and leaders for a job well done over the years, Smith said.
Daniel Fider of the Carey Park Adventist Church, was among the group who stands out as the longest serving church elder 55 years of service. Fider considers his early upbringings in the Asia Seventh-day Adventist Church as being instrumental in the formulation of his leadership qualities.
“It’s a privilege to serve the church, not merely as an elder but in any area that is required of me,” said Fider, who also served the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in various leadership capacities including interim president. “It is the leadership at the local church level that has equipped and prepared me for wider and higher service,” said Fider.
Reflecting on his over five decades of experience as an elder, Fider explains that being named an elder is a true honor but the greatest honour is to have the opportunity to serve.In the rural area of Litchfield, Trelawny, 71-year-old Angella Brown, a retiree, has been faithfully serving her local church for the past 35 years, despite the challenges of distance and the demands of a rural lifestyle. Ms. Brown’s journey to her church in Litchfield from her home in Manchester every week is not an easy one, yet for over a decade she has traversed the distance, showcasing her unparalleled dedication, church leaders said.
Commenting on the demanding role of a church elder she said, “You have to be committed in order to be an effective elder.” Though faced with physical challenges at times, she says, “Once you are willing to work for God, He will make a way.”
Keynote speakers during the event included Pastor Pardon Mwansa, former vice president of the General Conference and associate professor in leadership at Andrews University, Pastor Josney Rodriguez, ministerial secretary of the Inter-American Division, and Pastor Adlai Blythe, treasurer of the Jamaica Union.“A good leader is not one that says ‘you are wrong’ or ‘you are right’ but rather ‘how can we co-exist?’” said Mwansa. He further added that despite the adjustments that we must be willing to make to remain effective in mission, we must never do so at the expense of the fundamental beliefs of the church. “The fundamental doctrines of the church are non-negotiable. We do not change the fundamentals because of the passage of time,” Mwansa explained.
Church elders prayed and recommitted their lives to continue serving their communities with greater zeal and dedication.