Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the Inter-American Division presents his report at the start of the church’s Mid-year Executive Committee business meetings, in Miami, Florida, United States, May 6, 2024. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Mid-year business meetings highlight church growth and impact today.

May 9, 2024 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders from throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) met for the church’s territory-wide annual mid-year business meetings in Miami, Florida, United States, May 6-7, 2024.  During the meetings, the more than 160 union administrators, institution presidents, church leaders and lay representatives from the 24 major church regions reflected on church growth, examined finances, and reviewed on-going mission initiatives that have dominated the territory recently.

IAD Executive Secretary Pastor Leonard Johnson, began the meetings with his report highlighting the 150th anniversary of the Adventist Worldwide Mission and reflected on how the Seventh-day Adventist Church was encouraged to go beyond its immediate borders sending in John N. Andrews as the first missionary who set sail in 1874 for England.

IAD Secretary Pastor Leonard Johnson introduces his report pointing dozens of union and institution administrators as well as department directors and laypersons to reflect on “Recapturing the Spirit of Mission” that grew the territory, as Ivelisse Herrera, IAD treasurer and Pastor Elie Henry (right) IAD president look on. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“As we commemorate ‘Mission 150’ I look at Inter-America and seek to parallel and show how that initial missionary act impacted not only the work of Adventism around the world but throughout our division territory,” said Johnson.

Five years after 1874, John C. N. Loughborough sent a box of books to Haiti, marking the entrance of the Adventist message there. Missionaries were sent to Panama which grew the church there and throughout the Central American countries, he said. In 1887, colporteurs George A. King and William Arnold traveled to British Guyana where soon after a church was established. It was the first Adventist Church organized in the IAD territory. The spread of tracts and publications through the work of colporteurs continued growing the church throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, French Antilles and beyond, reported Johnson.

Leaders from throughout the Inter-American Division territory listen in during the IAD’s secretary’s report on day one of the executive committee meetings on May 6, 2024. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Against the backdrop of the mission-driven pioneers, Pastor Johnson encouraged executive committee members to join the “Recapturing the Spirit of Mission” theme, setting the tone throughout their respective territories to look on heritage of the past and rekindle that same spirit.  “Our Division was born out of mission and as a result significant growth has followed,” he added.

Looking at church growth

“Statistics tell a story of what we have accomplished and what we need to do to move forward,” said Johnson.

At the end of 2023, the total membership was 3,705,040, with a total of 24,682 churches and companies spread out in 156 local fields, in 24 unions. As of April 30, 2024, membership shows 3,716,700, and climbing, he said.

Associate Secretary of the General Conference Pastor Gerson Santos (second left) congratulates Pastor Teófilo Silvestre, president of the Dominican Union for completing Adventist Church Management Service training recently while administrators Luis Daniel Polanco, union secretary and Winston Hiciano (right), treasurer  look on.[Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

There were 421 new congregations were established in 2023, an average of 35 congregations each month. Fifty-six companies were also formed last year. Leading with the most membership is the Haitian Union with more than 502,000 members, followed by the Jamaica Union with more than 342,000, and Dominican Union with more than 324,000. The unions with the most churches and companies are the Chiapas Mexican Union with 3,480, then the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union with 3,464, and the North Colombia Union with 1,689.

Figures show that on average a pastor has 1,145 members and leads roughly 7.6 churches in IAD. As of 2023, compiled figures show that there is one Seventh-day Adventist to 81 persons in the territory.

There were 137,689 baptisms in 2023, adding former members, professions of faith, letters received and adjusted, the total additions resulted in 191,905, said Johnson. By comparison, a total of 166,803 attritions included dropped, deaths, missing, letters granted and adjustments showed in the church books.

Committee members are shown how the Adventist Church Management Service can identify areas in their regions for church planting by Othman González of the IAD.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“We look to strengthening the mission as a team [in secretariat], committed to changing the picture step by step, union by union, changing to a more positive one through trainings to keep accurate church memberships,” said Johnson.

Church planting feature

The Adventist Church Management Service (ACMS), where membership is recorded, is not only about keeping records of active members but also as a tool for church planting, identifying areas to expand the territory, said Johnson.

Committee members were shown ways in which they can use software to view population clusters, the Adventist presence in areas and regions to evangelize in their territory.

Committee members from the Belize Union look on during the church’s business meetings on May 6, 2024. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

During his report, Johnson pointed that there are 26 IAD volunteers in service around the world through Vivid Faith (formerly Adventist Volunteer Service), as well as 19 IAD International Service Employees (ISEs) serving around the world, and 12 ISEs from other world divisions serving in the IAD territory.

“We want to recapture that spirit of mission that drives that passion, that enthusiasm to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Johnson.

All of the 24 unions are participating in mission refocus either by sending missionaries around the world, or sending financial support throughout the 10/40 window, Johnson said.

IAD department directors present ongoing mission initiatives throughout the territory since 2023. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Pastor Johnson also paid tribute to Pastor George W. Brown, former president of the IAD (1980-1993) who turned 100  in January. During his tenure as president, the IAD experienced rapid growth in membership and initiatives from 600,000 to over one million members, Johnson said.

IADPA’s 40th anniversary

Committee members were briefed on the growth of the Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA) since it was established in 1984. Saul Ortíz, president of IADPA, thanked division, union and institution administrators for their support and collaboration in growing the publishing house and quality publications.

Inter-American Division Publishing Association President Saúl Ortíz presents how the publishing house will keep expanding during a special celebration presentation to executive committee members.  [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

“It’s been arduous work publishing so many publications, but we praise God for His blessings,” said Ortiz. IADPA manages 92 bookstores in 30 countries as well as 165 employees.

“We are committed to using digital technology as we continue upgrading this publishing work,” said Ortiz. The publishing house will be moving into a new building with an innovation center and larger operations area, he said. In addition, IADPA has a vision to expand to more stores and translating the new international bible commentary in 16 volumes. “We will continue to be committed to academic excellence.”

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry, congratulated IADPA’s leadership and staff and praised their work and dedication. IADPA is one of two publishing houses in the IAD. GEMA Editors is the second publishing house that serves the church in Mexico.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry congratulates IADPA leaders and staff for their publishing ministry throughout the last four decades. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“You see the secretary’s report began with the impact of publications in our territory, showing the importance of publications to introduce the eternal gospel message and we see that blessing grow through the extraordinary work of publications in IADPA for 40 years now,” said Pastor Henry.

Pray for North Korea 

Pastor Paul Oh, director of the North Korea Mission, briefed committee members on the ongoing prayer initiatives for the mission overseen by the Northern Asia-Pacific Division. Pastor Oh shared the current challenges, and ongoing evangelistic efforts and plans for the mission and thanked the contribution of the Cuba Union to assist plans to reach new believers who are getting baptized and joining churches across the border. “There were 108 churches and I believe that these churches will one day re-open,” Pastor Oh said.

Committee members surrounded Pastor Oh on stage to pray for the people in North Korea.

Union administrators stand on stage with IAD administrators to pray for North Korea and the leadership and plans of Pastor Paul Oh, director of the North Korea Mission and his team. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

To learn more about decisions taken during Inter-American Division ‘s Mid-year Executive Committee Meetings, visit us at interamerica.org

To view a photo gallery, click HERE

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