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Adventist Christian Fellowship Institute 2014

The Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) of the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists® met for its annual 10-day ACF Institute, held at Union College in Lincoln, Neb. this year. ACF is specifically organized to help Adventist students who are attending non-Adventist colleges/universities to launch, grow and sustain Adventist ministry on their campus.

Under the direction of ACF/NAD Volunteer Coordinator Ron Pickell, the ACF Institute attendees received training in the area of ministry philosophy, campus practics such as starting a ministry from scratch and developing an academic year ministry calendar, experiencing on-campus outreach and Christian apologetics to help strengthen their own faith.

Presenters included: Georgia Cumberland Conference Public Campus Ministry Director Michaela Lawrence Jeffrey; Florida Conference Campus Minister at the University of Florida/Gainesville, Angelo Grasso; retired Ohio Conference president, Dr. Raj Attiken; Boulder Co and author of "The Word On Campus" - Pastor Kirk King; General Conference Public Campus Ministry Director, Dr. Jiwan Moon; Adventist Christian Apologist, Dr. Subodh Pandit; and ACF Institute Director/ACF/NAD Volunteer Coordinator Dr. Ron Pickell.

In addition to the training done on the Union College campus, 18 more people attended the apologetics presentation at the University of Nebraska campus to hear a message on "Is Theism Irrational? Is Atheism Rational" presented by Dr. Subodh Pandit an Adventist medical doctor who has made Christian apologetics his own personal field of study.

Pastors in the field were given an introduction to the value and benefit of public campus ministry. Pastors just entering the field who will be near a public college campus were inspired and prepared to see their campus as part of their mission responsibility and student leaders were prepared for a year of ministry on their campus.

Participants reported that they had never received a training like this before that gave them practical training in reaching their campus for Christ and helping them answer some of their important questions on faith, science and the existence of God.

Each of the ACF Mission Year Student Volunteers will continue to receive monthly follow up phone calls to help them achieve success in their campus ministry efforts.

Unprecedented Meeting Examines Church Structure

An historic meeting of administrative leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America met near Dulles Airport outside Washington D.C. on May 13-15, 2014, to discuss the future of the Church and its structure, organization and mission. It is the first time presidents, executive secretaries, and chief financial officers of each of the Church’s administrative units, conferences and unions have met in a joint session.

The conference began with Church leaders, including education and healthcare leaders, expressing a strong willingness to place the needs of the Church’s effectiveness and mission before their own position. When asked, an overwhelming 95 percent of attendees said they would be willing to sacrifice their position if it would help further the mission of the Adventist Church. The delegates welcomed the voted result with strong applause.

“It is so wonderful that this body of North American Church leaders came to this extraordinary meeting with open hearts and open minds,” said Dan Jackson, president of the Adventist Church in North America. “This selfless spirit demonstrates a real desire to honestly examine our current organizational and missional delivery systems and how they need to be adapted to make the Adventist Church more relevant to our communities in the 21st century.”

Titled “Shaping the NAD of Tomorrow,” the conference featured presentations on the changing face of the religious environment in North America, challenges to the Adventist education system, reaching the emergent secular society, and how governance and organizational structure affect the efficiency of the Church and its mission. After each presentation conference attendees separated into small groups to discuss issues in one of three priority areas: mission to contemporary audiences, education, and the Church administrative structure. The points raised by the breakout groups were synthesized and presented to attendees who then prioritized the issues for further action.

The top priorities selected by the delegates were to:
1.   Develop a branding strategy for Adventism tied to a clearer positive sense of our identity, empowering members to mingle with the secular community including opening our churches more hours to be available to local communities;

2.    Make recommendations specifying ways that administration and ministries of the Church can streamline operations and eliminate duplications where unnecessary at every level; and

3.    Assign to a representative commission the challenge of exploring at least three scenarios for the redistribution of financial support from members for furthering the mission of the Church.

A group representative of the Church’s diverse membership will be commissioned by the North American leaders to further study the top priorities and make an initial report at the North American Division Year-end Meeting in November 2014.

Prior to the conference more than 470 church pastors, educators, administrators and retirees throughout the North American territory were surveyed on a variety of topics. The response rate was 72%, which, according to survey analyst Dr. Karl Bailey, was “nearly unheard of” for participation in an anonymous survey. The results of the survey were evaluated and presented by Dr. Bailey and Dr. Duane McBride from the Behavioral Sciences Department of Andrews University. These survey results were used to support the subjects that were presented at the conference.

-- Communication Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America