North Pacific Union executive committee convened via Zoom on Aug. 16, 2023, for a time of ministry reports and prayers of praise.
The praises began with reflections on the recent “Something Better” educators’ convention presented by North American Division in Phoenix, Arizona, for 5,500 educators and guests.
Carlton Byrd, Southwest Region Conference president, opened the convention with a rallying message about the value and purpose of Adventist education in today’s world and encouraged educators to remember the “why” of their calling to expand God’s kingdom in their classrooms.
G. Alexander Bryant, NAD president, closed the four-day convention with reflections on the impact of Adventist education and reminded educators that God’s plan plus God’s favor equals “Something Better.”
This summer also included DiscipleTrek, a three-week faith-building program for college students. Twenty-three participants from the Pacific Northwest and across North America spent time in deep Bible study, prayer and Christian community.
“I wanted this experience and discovered I needed it,” Joshua Torres, event participant, shared with committee members. “It gave me a mindset to comfortably talk with my friends about the Bible. Twenty-one days is a good amount of time for forming new habits.”
Torres, who is currently from El Paso, Texas, is enrolled at Walla Walla University and is a recipient of the NextGen Scholarship. He is looking forward to seeing how God leads in his journey toward pastoral ministry. John McVay, Walla Walla University president, joined in praying for Torres on his ministry path.
Additionally, McVay shared in the meeting about the university graduating nearly 400 students in June, the ripple effects of students being baptized, the unfolding miracles of reducing a deficit budget and the energy of the campus offering 185 summer classes.
McVay noted how the NextGen Scholarship is offering 17 awards for new theology majors and 11 for new education majors. The interest in these two academic areas is influencing additional students to enroll in theology or education to step up as the next generation of leaders.
The baptism and membership report, presented by Bill McClendon, NPUC vice president for administration, showed the highest numbers since the pandemic. The second quarter of 2023 welcomed 415 new members by baptism and 84 new members by profession of faith. The year-to-date total baptisms and professions with the Pacific Northwest is 800.
“There seems to be renewed interest in our communities [to learn more about the Bible],” McClendon said. “We are seeing significant numbers in baptisms and professions of faith for both smaller and larger conferences.”
One of the evangelism and soul-winning highlights was the Breath of Life campaign in Seattle. EuGene Lewis, Washington Conference regional ministries director and Emerald City Community Church lead pastor, reported 1,077 contacts with 767 contacts from a Christian concert series, 310 contacts from door-to-door ministry by 10 Bible workers, 362 Bible studies to date, 81 completed Bible studies, 46 baptisms and three professions of faith between January and July 2023.
“We made a tremendous impact in our community,” Lewis said. “The crusade may have ended, but the outreach has not. The more interests we have, the more opportunities we have for reaching people for Christ. We have six small groups with dinner and Bible study continuing with each small group praying about adding one or two more families.”
Doug Bing, Washington Conference president, noted how these meetings in an urban Seattle community were delayed three years by the pandemic.
“The delay gave us extra time to pray,” Bing said, adding that Lewis and his team spent a specific 100 days in prayer. This ministry report generated three prayers of praise from executive committee members.
The financial report, presented by Mark Remboldt, NPUC vice president for finance and CFO, also included praises for a 5.14% union-level tithe increase through June. All but one conference had strong tithe numbers for the month of June.
While income was a little below expenses through the month of June, the budget is on track to fulfill a mission to “reach one more” for Jesus. Remboldt is optimistic about quarter three finances and plans to maintain a disciplined approach to managing budgets. Cash on hand is at a solid ratio to ensure the organization’s ability to meet financial obligations.
The Revolving Fund, as presented in the North Pacific Union Association board of trustees’ report, is performing well. Leaders noted how the Fund’s purpose is to provide good interest rates for churches and schools and indicated how funds are currently available at competitive rates.
In worldwide church news, the General Conference session for 2025 will be returning to a 10-day format in late June and early July. In union church news, Idaho Conference and Upper Columbia Conference are preparing for constituency sessions this September.
Additional business in executive committee included ordination approval for four pastors from Oregon Conference, two pastors from Upper Columbia Conference and one chaplain from Washington Conference. For each ordination nominee, the conference president or representative introduced the candidate and shared briefly about their ministries.
With the departure of César and Carolann De León to the North American Division, NPUC is currently seeking a new vice president for Hispanic ministries, family ministries and ministerial. The search process is underway.
NPUC executive committee members also took a moment to recognize and remember legendary leader Alvin Kibble who recently passed away. Kibble invested 51 years of ministry in growing churches, schools and leaders.
Prayers of praise were frequent throughout the approximately two-hour meeting.
“God is doing something special right now,” said John Freedman, NPUC president. “We’re seeing people have a high level of spiritual interest. We’re seeing how God is opening doors.”