World Leaders Get Firsthand Look at NPUC
For the first time in recent memory, representatives from the leadership teams of the Seventh-day Adventist world church divisions are touring the territory of the North American Division (NAD). They’re tourists with a purpose, seeking to understand how the Adventist mission is being carried forward throughout the NAD.
Executive secretaries (think vice presidents for administration) from 12 of the world church’s 13 divisions are accompanied by spouses as well as a small contingent of General Conference (GC) personnel led by world church executive secretary G.T. Ng on this whirlwind tour — nearly 40 individuals in all. The Trans-European Division was unable to send a representative to join the experience.
NPUC, the First Stop
The Pacific Northwest provided the first stop, over the extended weekend of June 27–30, 2019. After beginning in British Columbia, the group traveled to the Walla Walla University Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory on Friday, June 28, where they received a thorough overview of this unique part of higher education. Several mentioned how impressed they were of the critical blending of scientific and spiritual dimensions. “Studying science within the framework of Scripture centered in the Creator is so needed within our world,” said one. “It’s wonderful to see how scientific research can be effectively done within the environment of faith through the efforts of Walla Walla University.”
North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) officers John Freedman, president, and Bill McClendon, vice president for administration, accompanied the group for the weekend. “This is a great opportunity for all of us to learn from each other,” says Freedman. “We want our brothers and sisters from around the world church to witness firsthand that we are partners with them in the Adventist message and mission. Even with the unique challenges of each world region, we must be aligned in moving forward together on God’s call.”
A High Day of Worship
Sabbath, June 29, brought the entire contingent together for a high day of worship and sharing, beginning on the campus of Auburn Adventist Academy in Auburn, Wash., for the NAD-wide Samoan Camp Meeting. Not only did the worldwide representatives enjoy the unique cultural experience, they were introduced to the entire group and presented with special leis for the occasion. They witnessed a panel discussion of pastors from around the NAD discussing the unique challenges of reaching the extended Samoan population in North American communities.
This unique cultural experience also illustrated the broad differences of each world division. “The wide variety of challenges throughout our world field was starkly evident when our division leaders were brought up front at that event,” says McClendon. “One leader represents a division of more than 4 million members, while standing right next to him is a leader from a world division that has barely 4,000 members — less even than each of our local conferences within the NPUC.”
Affirmation of Evangelistic Mission
Sabbath afternoon wrapped up with a collective meeting of NPUC ministry leaders at the Washington Conference office in Federal Way, Wash. The NAD and GC groups heard welcoming messages and reports from conference leaders: Doug Bing, Washington Conference president; Elden Ramirez, Montana Conference president; and David Schwinghammer, Oregon Conference vice president for administration. Monte Church shared the unique outreach efforts for First Nation people throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The Growing Young project was also highlighted. Several of the worldwide group responded affirmatively to these reports of evangelistic progress and reflected on the common challenge around the world to reach younger generations. “Irrespective to cultural backgrounds, the main reasons for our young people leaving are the same in every single part of the world,” says Barna Magyarosi, Inter-European Division executive secretary.
Kingsley Anonaba, West Central Africa Division executive secretary, noted the positive nature of the Growing Young movement in integrating a variety of generations. “This illustrates how important it is to involve all of our membership, especially the youth, so they can stay in the church,” he says.
Representing the General Conference office of the secretariat, Fylvia Fowler Kline was enthusiastic about the energy of innovation. "To see a church that's willing to take risks, to be led by the Spirit in an attitude of service, was just so inspiring."
Together on a Common Mission
“I come away from our NPUC portion of this NAD tour with a hope that our brothers and sisters from around the world divisions will see firsthand that we together share the same passion to be about our Father’s business,” says McClendon. “Some of them have been here to attend the seminary or committee meetings, but few have had the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the challenges unique to North America. I hope this can help bring us closer together on our common mission.”
Join us in praying for this ongoing experience for our world church leaders as they visit additional locations throughout the NAD in the coming days.