Baptism symbolizes growth, evangelistic effectiveness in northeastern states
BY EDNOR A. P. DAVISON
Atlantic Union Gleaner, writing from South Lancaster, Massachusetts
uring the fourth quarter of 2007, the Atlantic Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists realized a significant milestone in its 106-year history— church membership surpassed 100,000. This was made possible as a result of the combined efforts of the six conferences, or local church areas, that comprise the Atlantic Union—Bermuda, Greater New York, New York, Northeastern, Northern New England, and Southern New England. Conference leaders, church leaders, and church members have taken to heart the gospel commission to “tell the world” and have been sharing the hope of Christ’s soon return resulting in many new members, church leaders say.
In recognition of this important achievement, on September 8, 2007, during a series of evangelistic meetings at the Sharon Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bronx, New York, Donald G. King, Atlantic Union Conference president, baptized Natalie Simms, symbolizing the 100,000th member to be baptized in the Atlantic Union.
MILESTONE REACHED: Donald G. King, Atlantic Union president, baptized Natalie Simms, symbolizing the 100,000th member to be baptized in the Atlantic Union.[Photo: Karlon Cromwell/C-Well Productions Inc.]
The weekend meetings at the Sharon church were part of a series conducted by Courtney Goulding, the church’s pastor. Approximately 300 people were present at the service, which was streamed live to the attendees of the “Brooklyn for Jesus” evangelistic meetings that were being held in another part of New York City.
“This was a memorable and historic occasion for the Adventist Church in the Atlantic Union territory,” King said. “It was a symbolic moment that characterized the growth of the work in the northeast region of the United States. We thank God for His leading and pray for His continued blessings.”
King said local conference administrators are to be commended for their leadership and for implementing programs that help foster growth in their respective fields. The Bermuda Conference, under the leadership of Jeffrey Brown, the recently reelected president, has more than 3,942 members and 10 churches. Greater New York Conference led by Richard A. Marker has a membership of more than 23,554 and 145 churches. In the New York Conference, where Stan Rouse is president, the membership now exceeds 5,045 with 63 churches. Trevor H. C. Baker provides leadership in the Northeastern Conference with its more than 47,303 members and 164 churches. In the Northern New England Conference, President Mike Ortel and the entire office staff are giving God praise for the fact that the conference membership has grown beyond 5,000 members who are worshiping in 59 churches. And the Southern New England Conference, with Frank Tochterman at the helm, is reporting more than 15,000 members and 103 churches.
An added component, beginning in 2006, was the “Students Tell the World” initiative sponsored by the Atlantic Union Conference Office of Education with the support of the principals of the union’s elementary schools and academies. Students were given the opportunity to present evangelistic meetings, which resulted in several baptisms. In fact, it was exciting to hear such students as, Chris Daum, Heidi Munding, Eric Morris, Robert Drexler, Jessica Malcolm, and Rebecca Barcelo give their testimonies about their participation in the “Students Tell the World” meetings at a special worship at the Atlantic Union Conference office in 2007. They, too, expressed their excitement about sharing this message of hope.
By surpassing 100,000 members, the Atlantic Union has just begun to scratch the surface in this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic field with the message of salvation and the hope of a soon-coming King. Union leaders say it is “prime time” for Adventists in the more than 544 churches in the Atlantic Union “to become beacons of light in their surrounding communities.”
This achievement is not just about reporting numbers or meeting goals, leaders report. It is about realizing that more and more people in the history of the Atlantic Union are connecting to Jesus Christ as a wonderful Savior and friend. More than ever before, people are developing relationships with God because of their interactions with Seventh-day Adventists. Many are learning about a wonderful Savior through church services, health fairs, Bible studies, tent meetings, Internet evangelism, Internet television and radio, community events and programs sponsored by the churches, door-to-door witnessing, one-to-one evangelism, and other means, church officials said.