Adventist Church Leaders Renew Commitment to Spiritual Revival
At Holy Convocation, year of lay action celebrated (Posted February 28, 3013)

BY LIBNA STEVENS, assistant director of communication, Inter-American Division, reporting from Miami, Florida

Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders overseeing the fast-growing membership throughout the church in Inter-America gathered to pray, review strategies, and renew their commitment to spiritual revival and reformation during a program called Holy Convocation, which took place January 21-23, 2013, at the Miami, Florida, headquarters of the Inter-American Division (IAD). The meetings set in motion a year dedicated to celebrating the work of thousands of laypeople throughout the region.

Standing in Commitment: Israel Leito, president of the IAD, stands with union and regional leaders as Inter-America’s Holy Convocation begins, January 21, 2013.
“This is not a new gathering, nor another meeting full of seminars, nor another picnic,” said Israel Leito, IAD president, as he spoke to the more than 250 church leaders gathered. “We are here to help you help the church, to come together in dedication to the Lord, to recommit our hearts to be led by Him, and serve so the church can progress with greater zeal toward the work of the Lord in readiness for His coming.”

The convocation aimed at furthering spiritual leadership in an atmosphere of revival and reformation, an atmosphere the church has been fostering for the past two years, explained Abner De Los Santos, an IAD vice president in charge of overseeing member retention and spiritual revival and reformation.

“Our goal is to continue maintaining the healthy spiritual leadership we need in studying the Word of God daily, setting aside time for prayer every day and to monitor a good orientation toward God, family, church and community that will help us witness in the best way possible,” said De Los Santos.

Speaking via videoconference, Ted N. C. Wilson, president of General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, thanked IAD leaders for their committed work in revival and reformation and their role in continuing to focus on reaching the cities “leading others to the foot of the cross and the Lord’s soon coming.”

Emphasis on the Word: Mark Finley, assistant to the president of the Adventist world church, stressed the need for leaders to be saturated with the Word of God as they motivate church members to study the Bible daily.
The three-day event reminded regional and local church leaders to continue to nurture a spiritual revival environment among the 3.6 million members through a number of special messages focused on prayer, the study of the Bible, and testifying of the gospel.

Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, former director of the Adventist world church’s Biblical Research Institute, spoke to leaders reflecting on the important lessons found in the book of Samuel:  dependence on God’s guidance through prayer when facing challenges and problems in leading God’s people.

“In order to be an effective leader, prayer has to be a lifestyle,” said Rodríguez. “Your long experience as an administrator will never be enough . . . you will need every moment of your work to be in communion with God.”

Rodríguez reminded leaders that prayer is vital in leadership and as God’s appointed leaders, they must see themselves as empty vessels so the Lord can do the work He wants to do through them and in others.

Evangelist Mark Finley, a special assistant to the General Conference president, spoke about leaders being fed daily with the Holy Scriptures.

“You will find many challenges as an administrator,” said Finley, “but if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, saturate your mind with the Word of God, saturate your mind with the lessons of Christ.”

“The pulpit must be a place that inspires our members to read God’s Word,” added Finley.

Life of Prayer: Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, formerly of the Adventist world church’s Biblical Research Institute, spoke to leaders on the importance of making prayer a lifestyle. PHOTOS: Libna Stevens/IAD
Finley pointed out methods of studying the Bible coupled with prayer to guide laypeople and others to see farther in carrying out the mission of the church.

Top IAD church leaders led several panel discussions on evaluating performance and ways of keeping the spiritual revival and reformation emphasis fresh throughout the territory in the coming months and years.

“We must keep the church focused on spiritual revival and reformation, the vision of a constancy in prayer, that vision of the Word of God, to prepare a people for His coming, because the fields are ripe,” said Leito during a discussion segment.

Attendees were able to see the growth of the church numerically and financially through special reports by the top three executive administrators of the church in the Inter-American Division.

Church leaders from Inter-America’s 22 unions, or regions, reported on the progress and activities surrounding revival and reformation and their impact during the past two years.

The event was highlighted with several daily prayer sessions focusing on the ministry of the family, youth, children, and laypeople, or active members.

For Richard James, president for the church in Guyana, the convocation was the inspiring push he was excited to take home as he headed back to his team of leaders overseeing the church there.

With some 35 district pastors shepherding more than 180 churches and congregations, corporate prayer and study of the Word of God has been key to successful revival and reformation in a membership of more than 58,000 in Guyana, James explained.

Division Delegates: Church leaders packed the Bender Archbold Auditorium at the IAD headquarters in Miami, Florida, during the Holy Convocation. PHOTO: Jamaar Daniel
“It was clear with this event that as leaders, we must model a life of prayer based on faith and confidence in a God who hears and answers prayer,” James said. Modeling Christian spiritual leadership to church members has been a work of setting aside time with church leaders every first Wednesday of the month away from the headquarters office to pray and study the Word of God for three hours since 2011, according to James.

“It has brought us to become better spiritual leaders and has resulted in a visible response to this spiritual revival among our membership,” said James. He is heading a new plan to set aside time to pray for church administrators every Monday, as well as mobilize department and ministry leaders to visit police commissioners, community leaders, schools, and hospital patients to pray with them every month.

For José De Gracia, president of the church in East Panama, the convocation was an opportunity to see the unity among church leaders, departments, and ministries all under joint efforts toward spiritual revival and reformation.

Consecrated by Prayer: Inter-American leaders pray in commitment as the Holy Convocation concluded.
“This was an extraordinary event that tunes us with the world church, moving forward in the same direction,” said De Gracia, who heads a team of 33 pastors ministering to some 35,000 church members in the eastern portion of Panama’s capital, Panama City.

De Gracia explained that the commitment of laypeople involved in spiritual revival has been instrumental in planting some 32 congregations in Panama City in just the last year.

“Our leaders and members are pursuing a closer relationship with the Lord, and that has led them to engage more actively in sharing the gospel in their communities,” De Gracia said.

Previous to Inter-America’s Holy Convocation, church leaders met for a special consecration Communion service for a committed and spiritually revived membership across the territory.

The coming weeks and months will include territory-wide activities geared toward a spiritual revival and reformation during the Year of the Laity celebrations, including a virtual council for thousands of church elders, evangelistic deployment, discipleship celebration, and more.

For additional information on activities during Inter-America’s 2013 Year of the Laity, visit http://2013.interamerica.org.





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