Adventist Singer Junior Kelly Marchena leads in a music performance with a group of singers during the Adventist Church’s 25th anniversary celebration hosted by the Southeast Dominican Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug. 26, 2023. More than 6,000 church leaders and members gathered to celebrate the exponential growth of the church in the region since the local field was organized in 1998 and letter became a conference in 2011. [Photo: Southeast Dominican Conference]

September 14, 2023 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Repulic | Yoel Lizardo and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, celebrated the growth of the gospel across the eastern and northern parts of the capital city during the past 25 years.

“Everything that has happened during all these years in this conference has been because of the direct intervention of the Lord,” said Pastor Gabriel Paulino, president of the Southeast Dominican Conference. “We praise God, for He has been good to His church and we have seen so many blessings poured out in this conference.” Paulino thanked pastors for their commitment to the mission, as well as church leaders and the entire membership who have been tirelessly involved in advancing the kingdom of God in the region.

Pastor Gabriel Paulino, president of the Southeast Dominican Conference speaks to thousands of members during the celebration while Teofilo Silvestre (right), president of the Dominican Union and Winston Hiciano (center back) treasurer of the Dominican Union stand behind. [Photo: Southeast Dominican Conference]

“As part of the 25th anniversary of the growth of the conference, we have had a vision to dedicate 25 new churches, and we have reached and superseded that amount with over 50 new church temples which will be completed, thanks to the support of Maranatha Volunteers International,” said Paulino. Many of the newly completed temples have been inaugurated and will become centers of hope and salvation for church members and the surrounding communities.

Church members from the national district, provinces of Boca Chia, Guerra and Monte Plata and other areas gathered for the celebration on the premises of the Southeast Dominican Conference, in Santo Domingo, Aug. 26, 2023.

Thousands of church members from the Southeast Dominican Conference located in Santo Domingo gathered to celebrate on Aug. 26, 2023. [Photo: Southeast Dominican Conference]

Maranatha Volunteers International has been building churches in the Dominican Republic since 1992 and continues to commit to expanding the growing church on the island, said Paulino. “Out of the 216 or more churches built by Maranatha here in this country, about 50 percent have been built here in this conference region,” he said. “We thank Maranatha and their commitment of support as we grow in this region.”  Paulino pointed out that, since 2022, Maranatha has completed 32 new churches and will be building 25 more, among them seven two-story church buildings.

Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International, spoke to the more than 6,000 gathered, that in the next two years teams will be building dozens more churches. “We just dedicated two new churches today and we are so excited because we see a church dedicated to the glory of God here, and we know that means souls for the Kingdom,” said Noble.

Don Noble (right), president of Maranatha Volunteers International, shares with the congregation the continued commitment of the the teams to finish building dozens of new churches during the next couple of years in the Southeast Dominican Conference region. Kenneth Weiss (left), vice president of Maranatha Volunteers International translates to Spanish. [Photo: Courtesy of Marcos Paseggi]

“What has happened here during the past 25 years, it’s not simply hard work and planning, nor the product of great churches, but it’s completely based on the miracle that comes from the gifts of God,” added Noble. “We get excited about building in this country for this one reason: You are so friendly, and loving and caring for others.”  Noble said he has traveled to the Dominican Republic more than 75 times during the 40 years Maranatha has been impacting the island, and will continue to do so. Maranatha is working also on starting the campus of a K-12 school, church, and evangelism center in Santo Domingo.

Leading up to the 25th anniversary celebration in the conference, more than 40 evangelistic campaigns were held. Campaigns featured national and international evangelists and preachers, including Pastor Robert Costa, associate ministerial director of the General Conference, Pastor Andres Peralta, Pathfinder director of the General Conference, Pastor Elias Zabala, administrator of the Atlantic Union, Pastor Henry Beras, vice president of the Atlantic Union, and Pastor Wes Peppers of It is Written Ministries, among others.

More than 5,000 gathered at the Pabellon de Arteofilia in the East Park in Santo Domingo, during evangelistic campaign Aug. 17-20, 2023, led by Pastor Robert Costa, associate ministerial director of the General Conference [Photo: Courtesy of Robert Costa]

More than 1,500 new members joined the church as part of the evangelistic campaigns held Aug. 17-20, 2023.

“Soul-winning in this country is a lifestyle in the lives of members and churches,” said Pastor Robert Costa, who preached at Pabellon de Arteofilia in the East Park in Santo Domingo. Nearly 5,000 people filled the arena, hallways, stairways, and adjacent rooms to hear the Word of God, said Costa. “The fervor and commitment of pastors and lay people toward the fulfillment of the mission is very contagious,” said Costa, who said he had to preach six times during one Sabbath.

A young person is baptized during the Aug. 26, 2023, celebration of the growth of the church in the Southeast Dominican Conference, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. More than 1,500 were baptized during the more than 40 evangelistic campaigns that took please leading up to the recent anniversary celebration program.  [Photo: Southeast Dominican Conference]

In addition to music, prayer, and congregational singing, 25 of the most outstanding lay leaders were recognized for their notable contribution to evangelism, education and local church leadership.

Former presidents of the conference who were instrumental in the growth of the local field were honored on stage. They included Pastors Cesareo Acevedo, Paulino Puello, Joel Fernández, Victor Leger and Manuel Paulino.

Former Southeast Dominican Conference administrators are honored for their contribution to expanding the church in the region during the past 25 years. [Photo: Southeast Dominican Conferene]

Established as the Southeast Mission in 1998, the local field advanced and grew to be reorganized as a conference in 2011. The mission went from 100 congregations in 1998 to 384 today and has become the conference with the most congregations among the six local conferences in the country. There were 17 pastoral districts then to 59 today with more than 58,000 church members and went from 20 Pathfinder Clubs to 180.

To watch the 25th anniversary of the Southeast Dominican Conference on Aug. 26, 2023, click HERE



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