Make Church Place of Healing,
Renewal, Paulsen Tells Pastors
 G.C. President, Dr. Floyd Flake, Among Speakers at Evangelism Counci
 
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, reporting from Huntsville, Alabama
 
ur churches are meant to be places of healing and renewal – they must be,” General Conference president Dr. Jan Paulsen declared December 9, 2008, during the twenty-ninth Annual Pastoral and Evangelism Council held at church-owned Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. “The church should not be a battlefield, but a city of refuge.”

PLACE OF REFUGE: General Conference President Jan Paulen, as he spoke about the church as a “place of refuge” at the twenty-ninth Annual Pastoral and Evangelism Council held at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama on December 9, 2008. [Photos: Fred A. Pullins]
 
Carrying forward a theme he began at the 2008 Annual Council in Manila, Philippines, Paulsen expressed concern over those who would seek to separate the tares from the wheat in today’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, violating the spirit and letter of Christ’s parable in Matthew 13:24-30. “The church is a very mixed lot,” Paulsen conceded, but it is Jesus’ role to judge its members, not our role.

And while “the church has a right a right to church discipline” in situations where such discipline is called for, “however, it must not skew a day to day relationship” with its members.

Emphasizing that some who might be viewed negatively are in fact wrestling with the demands of God the Holy Spirit, Paulsen said “sinners are meant to be received warmly” by the church.

“I wouldn’t want to be only with those who have it all figured out,” he added, saying such people can become “arrogant, clinical and judgmental.”

Paulsen said, “It is within our reach to shape and create the spiritual atmosphere of our community.” Adventists should “create a good home in our local congregations, [and be] a warm family.”

The world church leader followed his remarks with a 20-minute question-and-answer session moderated by Harold Lee, former president of the Columbia Union Conference.

Asked how students can be armed spiritually to go home to hostile environments, and asked what the world church is doing to help the homeless in America, Paulsen told each questioner, respectively, that the answer started with their personal devotional life and that it was local congregations that were best situated to reach out in community service.
 
To a third questioner who asked about keeping young people in church, Paulsen said Adventists “all live as a family,” and that while retaining youth was important, “not everything” in worship services could be tailored to the taste of teenagers.”
 
He also said the Adventist Church was making progress in including the talents of professionals, but that more needs to happen, adding that the church has “vastly underused” the talents of Adventist women.
 
NO LIMITATIONS: God “appoints us to communities,” declared Dr. Floyd Flake, a New York City pastor and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, in his keynote address.
 
Paulsen’s presentation before the Evangelism Council – his second in the last 10 years – was a featured talk at an event which drew hundreds of regional conference pastors to Oakwood University for three days of preaching, prayer and seminars on evangelism and pastoral ministry. Before Paulsen spoke, former North American Division president Charles E. Bradford delivered a morning devotional that stirred the crowed with a call to “make Jesus Lord [and] lift Him up high.”
 
Noting that “maybe some of us had the wrong emphasis” in earlier years, Bradford emphasized the centrality of Christ in preaching and evangelism: “I believe I have been growing in grace,” he said.
 
Earlier, Dr. Floyd Flake, pastor of the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Jamaica, New York, delivered the opening keynote address. Explaining that he led the urban congregation from a membership of 1,400 to its present roster of 25,000, Flake, declared “the Kingdom of Heaven is not a place of limitation. It is a place of growth.”
 
He added, “God gives the direction, and it is not based on limitations. God will take care of you if you take care of his Kingdom.”
 
Flake, who also served for a decade as member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said “God does not appoint us to churches, He appoints us to communities. … God has called us to kingdom building on Earth.”


 
 


 
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