Inter-American Division local church elders honored as ‘gifts of God’
“You are called by God and you are a gift from God to our church, to continue to help the church grow and mature,” Inter-American Division (IAD) President Elie Henry said as he recently commended thousands of local church elders for their dedication and committed service in guiding members through the IAD year after year.
Henry was addressing the more than 43,000 church elders participating in a short online certification session, which aimed to highlight continuing education to equip, strengthen and train them to become effective leaders in their local church. and to compensate for the limited number of ministers. available in the division. There are over 23,000 churches and congregations across the IAD. Pastors could have five, 10 or as many as 24 congregations to oversee, church leaders said.
Importance of church elders
Local church leaders are those who “build up the body of Christ” each week during weekly services, visiting members, teaching the Word of God and ensuring all members are disciplined and growing in Jesus, said Henry. It’s been that way for almost 100 years since the Inter-American Division was established in 1922, he said.
More than 35,000 local church elders completed the certification program last year, said Josney Rodríguez, IAD Ministerial Secretary and lead organizer of the initiative. The online program, held Feb. 19, 2022, represented the close of the annual certification program for church elders across the IAD since 2017, and the start of new certification for 2022, a- he declared.
“Over the past five years, we have trained and worked with thousands of church elders to train them closely, meet their spiritual needs, and motivate them and their families to share the love of Jesus in their lives. communities,” Rodríguez said. It is about preparing leadership that can transform, he added.
Catering and member needs assessment
“The elder of the church is not one who ensures that the Sabbath [Saturday] The program runs smoothly every week, but a program that reaches out to members, assesses their needs, and follows each member to ensure they have a close relationship with Jesus,” Rodríguez said. More than 5,000 churches have registered their members and closely followed each member and their families throughout the territory so far, Rodríguez reported. Leaders hope to ensure that more than 15,000 congregations across the DIA are closely served by 2023, he added.
The certification program was about building a lifestyle of discipleship, a culture within the church to bring members together in full involvement with the leadership of each district pastor overseeing the spiritual growth of the church and its efforts of evangelization.
Recognize the role
So far it has been a great success to see the commitment of church elders, pastors and conference, mission and union administrators working together each year to understand and recognize the vital role of the church elder in each congregation, Rodríguez said.
Adventist Church ministerial secretary Jerry Page challenged church elders to continue serving like never before. “I want to challenge you to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to be the kind of elder who can truly make a difference for eternity in the family, in the church, so that we can see revival in our churches,” Page said.
Eighty percent of Adventist churches worldwide are led largely by church elders each Sabbath, Page said. “We don’t have enough pastors for every church. What responsibility and what influence you have on these churches.
The certification program is important, Page said, “but it’s nothing if we don’t know Jesus and go deeper into our study and get to know Him. Take time with God and ask how you can deal with circumstances in the church and broken relationships in the family or in the church, so that the church can be united in the image of God.
Pray for the spirit of God, Page encouraged the elders. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit to do the work of God.”
Union administrators spoke briefly during the online event to report on church elders who have been certified in their territory, outstanding elders who have achieved the highest number of baptisms in 2021, and exemplary churches who closely nurture and train their members throughout the region.
The event also marked the start of the next level of certification this year, with training under the guidance of the DIA as well as under the guidance of the union, he explained. This year, elders will participate in the certification program with their spouses – an additional element that aims to strengthen the family of the church elder in their dedicated service each week.
“We seek to continue to provide elders and their spouses with new skills so that they can be prepared and equipped to continue to teach, serve, preach and minister alongside pastors as they adjust to the challenges facing the church faces today,” Rodríguez said.