High Growth in North Brazil
Adds Second Union
New church structures in Euro-Asia affect Georgia, Russia
BY ANSEL OLIVER, Assistant Director for News, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
eventh-day Adventist world church leaders cited membership growth and need for flexibility when reorganizing administrative structures recently, including a large region of Brazil experiencing explosive membership growth.
Officials revealed to the church's Executive Committee the changes in Brazil's Amazon region and areas of the church's Euro-Asia Division while meeting October 14 in Manila, Philippines for an annual church business meeting.
BETTER STRUCTURE: New church growth in Brazil will be better supported by a flexible administrative structure, said Erton Kohler, president of the South American Division. [Mark A. Kellner/AR]
The former North Brazil Union Mission encompassed about 45 percent of Brazil's total landmass of 3.28 million square miles. The area, now comprised of two Union Missions, includes about 350,000 Adventists and adds some 45,000 new members each year.
Brazil has the most Adventists of any country with nearly 1.4 million members.
"We see a lot of opportunities there and we want to be able to better support our members," said Erton Kohler, president of the South American Division of the General Conference.
The former territory now comprises the North Brazil Union Mission and the Northwest Brazil Union Mission.
The distinction of a "Union Mission" indicates that the Union receives appropriation for operation, unlike a "Union Conference," which is self-supporting. The parent South American Division, one of the church’s 13 world administrative regions, supplies additional funding for the new Brazilian Union Missions.
Church leaders also asked delegates to authorize changes in structures in the Eastern European Caucasus region. Delegates voted to reorganize the Caucasus Union Mission into two union missions: the Trans-Caucasus Union Mission with headquarters in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Caucasus Union Mission with headquarters in Rostov, Russia.
Associate world church secretary Agustin Galicia pointed out that this change was studied prior to conflict in the region in August.
Church structure in the countries of Belarus and Moldova will become Unions of Churches with Conference status. This structure, typically applied in smaller territories and countries, allows local churches to organize directly under a division (see figure). Moldova currently has nearly 11,500 members worshiping in 153 churches under two conferences.
The Far Eastern Mission in Eastern Russia will become a Union of Churches with Mission status.