1.13 million are Adventist Church Members, NAD Secretary Says
Year-end meeting encouraged to instill values that make young people want to stay

BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, Adventist Review
total of 1,130,584 people are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States, Canada and Bermuda, Pastor G. Alexander Bryant, executive secretary of the North American Division, reported on October 28, 2011. His report came on the the opening morning of the division's year-end meetings held in Silver Spring, Maryland.

NAD Secretary G. Alexander Bryant
PHOTOS: Rich Herard
Those Adventists, who represent one out of every 306 people living in these three countries, meet for worship in 5,306 churches and 778 companies, he added. Forty percent of those churches have fewer than 50 people meeting for worship weekly, while three percent have more than 500 in their congregations each Sabbath, or Saturday.

Of the unions represented in the North American Division, the Southwestern Union is the fastest growing, followed by the Southern Union. Of the membership, only about half resides in or near urban areas, versus larger percentages -- 60 to 70 percent -- of the population as a whole. The Adventist Church is planning an increased emphasis on urban evangelism beginning in 2013 in New York City.

The church and its institutions face other demographic changes, Bryant said. One is the high percentage of people who have been members of the church for more than 20 years. If more people were joining the movement, Bryant said, the percentage would be lower, signifying growth. Another challenge: only 26 percent of Adventist families have young children at home, which means a lower supply of students for church-owned schools. And, he added, 69 percent of Adventist families earn less than U.S. $50,000 a year, making it more challenging for those parents to send their children to Adventist schools.

NAD President Dan Jackson
In his remarks welcoming delegates on the morning of October 28, Pastor Dan Jackson, NAD President, said the region faces many challenges in the coming months. Among these are mobilization of lay members; the involvement of young people in church life; the creation of "champions" of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; the effective use of mass media and the strengthening of "legacy" media outreaches.

Also speaking the first morning of the five-day event, Prof. Bailey Gillespie of La Sierra University, a church-owned school in Riverside, California, reported on the third decennial survey of young Adventists, known as Valuegenesis. Among the results of the survey, nearly a third of those young people who may leave active fellowship in the first 10 years after leaving an academy return to the movement. He said that building "a warm and thinking place in the home, church and school" is a key to retaining young members.

The annual meetings bring together union and conference presidents, secretaries and treasurers, as well as local pastors and lay members. During this time, delegates will consider various policy and procedural matters, as well as receive reports on activity throughout the territory.

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