LEAD On: Annual Council Diary, October 5

Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) is the way that every meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee begins. This year, the office of Global Mission is in charge of the two-day LEAD Conference titled “Into the Cities.”

Thursday began with Global Mission “Toolkits” being distributed. The charming cardboard boxes contained materials from the six Global Mission Centers that focus on sharing the Gospel with specific people groups: Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Urbanites, Muslims, Secular/Postmoderns. Then the directors of these centers shared the keys that they have learned to equip people to reach their neighbors by answering the top three questions asked about each of the groups.

“How Do I Begin” was a universal question that usually was answered, “Make friends.” Before you invite people to church, invite them to your home was one recommendation. Knowing something about people and their worldview was important. For instance, in working with East Asians whose worldview and values are shaped by Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, or Confucianism, it is important to realize that “their focus is not on some far off heaven. They want to ease their suffering now and live a good life. They see no need for forgiveness from sin,” according to the flyer with the Top 3 Questions about working with them.” In his presentation on reaching Jewish people, Richard Elofer said, “We have to adapt ourselves to the people that we want to reach.”

Partnerships are another key that Global Mission is using to accomplish its goals, partnerships with Divisions and partnerships with General Conference Departments. The directors of Education, Women’s Ministries, Religious Liberty, and Technology all described working with Global Mission projects. Early childhood education can be a great way to engage people In urban settings and the Education Department has guidelines on how to establish early childhood programs. They also told about the Adventist Education Theme Park in Sao Paulo called Zion World which has an outdoor classroom, theatre, and healthy snack factory where students learn about sustainability and social responsibility, healthy eating, and creationism. Women’s Ministries and the Center for Adventist Muslim Relations worked together on materials to reach Muslim families. They have learned that prayer groups scheduled at regular Muslim prayer times are one way to bring people together. Nancy Lameroux described how the IT department at the GC was working with the people in India to engage the large number of IT workers there in a special program.

The practical nature of the presentations and the care for the various people groups was inspiring. It made me proud to see the love being demonstrated throughout the world by my church. It was a good day in many ways. The toolkits were just the beginning of the giveaways. I also came home with eight new books, a new interactive Bible board game called “The Mission,” plus numerous flyers, cards, and magazines. Actually, “The Mission” wasn’t a give-away. I purchased it from the Center for Secular/Postmoderns. It is a beautiful board game “where knowledge and action meet!” “The Most Interactive Bible Game of All Time.” It has cards, dice, fake money, and trivia questions. Players build churches and send missionaries. The first player to send one missionary to every continent wins the game. I can’t wait to play.

Watching the distribution of all these materials to the audience is like watching a ballet.

The materials are stacked across a long u-shaped table in the back of the room. A team of twenty people each take a stack to a designated section of the auditorium to pass out. It is done quickly and efficiently. Willie Oliver, director of the Family Ministries Department, orchestrates the effort, recruits the participants, writes the reminder e-mails and the thank-you notes. “We’re here to help,” he says, “we’re all servants, part of the body of Christ.”

There were many “standing committees” throughout the day. These casual conversations, usually took place in the back of the room, when someone saw a friend or wanted to connect with an associate. At one point, the chair requested for those not to happen, because it was making it hard to hear the presentations. But people coming together once a year for this meeting always have much to share with each other, news to pass along on that ubiquitous Adventist grapevine. But that’s another story for another day.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image Credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8283

Thank you Ms. Dwyer for starting in a clear and concise way the historical record of this 2017 Annual Council. The narrative of these meetings needs to be told understood. So what makes an Annual Council meeting effective? This really boils down to three things:

  1. They achieve the meeting’s objective.
  2. They take up a minimum amount of time.
  3. They leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed.
    All the planning, preparation, execution, and follow up around these three basic criteria, can be the basis for evaluating the success or failure of yet another Annual Council meeting of the church.

I find it rather odd to see a mission experience described as a theme park. Very odd. The last word, however, brought back a memory I thought I’d share. Creationism. In my younger days, when I worked closely with my all-time favorite pastor at a small church, I thought it would be a good idea to give an EGW book to a stranded motorist we were helping out. My pastor smiled when I shared the idea with him, and enthusiastically supported it. The book was a compilation of the last five or so chapters of The Great Controversy, a book I admire to this day.

The motorist devoured the reading in a single afternoon. He loved it. He told me he could accept all of it “except for the 6,000 years” of the planet’s existence, which was stated a handful of times in the chapters. Because of that, he declared, he was going to reject all of it. One small–but in his mind, very big–hangup.

I do not know with certainty the age of the earth and life on it, and I don’t see why speculation about the ages should get in the way of anyone’s personal relationship with Jesus or quest for truth. I am saddened when we erect–consciously or unconsciously–unnecessary boundaries for what it means to become a Seventh-day Adventist. Ellen White, of course, can’t be blamed for failing to anticipate how people would think more than a century later. However, there is a new mindset in our midst that one has to subscribe to very strict interpretations of scripture and earth history to be a faithful member of the Church. And if you think differently, you’re a dangerous heretic. I wonder how many people we are shutting out.

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Bonnie,
Thank you for your vibrant reporting of these meetings.
You always give a balanced interpretation of the proceedings.

I was deeply saddened to see that that the global mission packet was labeled
INTO THE CITIES.

As I near my eighty second year, I recall my excitement, decades ago, as I passed through London, a naive, wide-eyed, unjaded boy, emigrating from Africa to the United States.

How proud I was that “the brethren “. had seen fit to purchase/lease a cinema/movie house, on prestigious REGENT STREET, mere blocks from PICCADILLY CIRCUS, the vibrant heart of London. This venue was in socially acceptable MAYFAIR, a high end hub of private clubs, royal academies and ultra rich mansions. This auditoriums was to be an evangelistic center.

The stated goal, was to convert the upper class English to Adventism.
Hence the location in London’s “Beverley Hills”.

Decades,later, I now visit London yearly, to see my grandchildren who live there!

Seeking a Sabbath church to attend, I find over one hundred black churches in London with Carribean and Nigerian Adventist congregations. These wonderful black members are “salt of the earth”and SPLENDID Adventists.

But the point I am making is that there are exceedingly few native born British Adventists, to the extent that the British Union church in Stanborough Park, has to hire a team of non-British pastors, and the congregation, racially mixed, has not many English members.

So that expensive evangelistic outreach in the 1960’s in London’s heart, has to be deemed an utter failure. It would be interesting, decades later, to know how much rent was paid for that theater in that prestigious quarter of UK’s capital city! An abject failure of INTO THE CITIES.

Again as a wide eyed, naive new immigrant to USA, I discovered MANHATTAN,
and its alluring charms, including a venue for Adventist evangelism just mere blocks from TIMES SQUARE, the heart of vibrant New York!

Decades later, we see that that expensive evangelistic outreach in
TIMES SQUARE has had minimal impact on converting Manhattan’s multitudes!

So this TALE OF TWO CITIES is not a triumph for Adventism’s outreach to urban centers!

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Biggest question here: where can we buy the “Mission” board game?

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Perhaps Seventh day Adventism HAD NOTHING to offer anyone in that neighborhood.
Perhaps Seventh day Adventism HAS NOTHING still to offer anyone.

UNTIL Seventh day Adventism HAS SOMETHING to OFFER anyone, Seventh day Adventists will CONTINUE TO BE IGNORED.
We FAIL TO ASK – WHY DID Jesus attract crowds of 15 – 20,000 people in his day of difficult travel [and fed them ALL TWICE].
Jesus prophecied his TRUE followers WOULD DO GREATER DEEDS THAN HE DID.

QUESTION—
WHAT IS THAT BOOK ON THE TABLE — Narrative, Meaning & TRUTH.

EDIT-- “Standing Committees” – MEANS NO ONE IS LISTENING TO THE PRESENTER. OR, CARES what is being presented!

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Gary Krause. Director of the Office of Adventist Mission, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:

“91% of all church resources are spent on those already Christian”

If they’re already Christian do you think Christ would want them converted to something different?

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We were told that it is currently only for sale during Annual Council, and when we stopped by the booth they were down to their last 4 copies. More to come, as this important story develops…

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Is it true that the Monday afternoon business meeting, during which the women’s ordination issue is expected to be discussed, will not be live streamed?

Is it a closed executive session, or will you be reporting, Bonnie?

The Mission Bible board game sounds intriguing, probably more from what I don’t know than what I do know. I would like to know more about it, particularly from someone who has played it.

Questions, thoughts and possibilities at this stage include.

  1. Does the game teach how to interact cross culturally. Is it available in multiple languages.
  2. Will the game inspire people to engage, or does it provide the feel good factor without meaningful results.
  3. How interactive is it. Is it online.
  4. If not online, can an online version be created, with multi players, potentially from many cultures and faiths.
  5. Could an online version be expanded to buy someone a meal, give someone a Bible, provide a free health assessment, and will the recipient of such gifts be able to, with traceability, contact the giver and open up a dialogue.
  6. Can this game be more than just a game. Could it be a movement.
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Here is the live stream schedule, from the Executive Committee website: https://executivecommittee.adventist.org/live/

Bonnie and Alisa will both be there reporting and live-tweeting, respectively. As far as we know right now, the session will be open to the press.

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Oh my. Another meeting with more leaders and more banal materials, while the members in the west slowly fade out. Its all distant and far removed from any thing meaningful for the churches and people that I know. And so it has been for a long time.

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Maybe next year the people groups, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Urbanites, Muslims, Secular/Postmoderns., can be joined by LGBTIs - we DO want to reach out to them, too, don’t we?

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Toys. Toys. Toys. Games. Spectator sports. Cheerers on the stands. As if the solution to Millennials’ addiction to entertainment is more of the same.:astonished:

Nah, this is for the Baby Boomers!

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Hi Robin

A few points on the New Gallery London.

The General Conference purchased a 50 year lease from the Crown Estate in 1953. One of the conditions was that it be returned to the Estate in refurbished condition. (Which as a period building with planning restrictions, would be significant)

The British Union along with the South England Conference were effective tenants with responsibility for this cost.

In the late 1980’s the Crown Estate made a multi-million offer to redeem the lease when it had about 10-12 years to run.

The then officers recognized the long term benefit, and used the resources to purchase the freehold of a synagogue complex a couple of blocks from Marble Arch. (Which is no further from Mayfair than Regent Street)

The current worth is around £10-12m

The Division held a reserve for maintenance, some of the proceeds were used in Global Mission projects and infra-structure. ( I was involved in a bid for a property in Cork Ireland, which after a few incarnations now has a city Centre church bursting at the seams.)

The country-life Restaurant group had a tenancy stake, took a cut also. They ran a project across the street from Regent Street for some years.

Overall the initial investment has retained value both in terms of cash and operations.

The Advent Centre was designed as a Nursery for Church plants - Several language based churches were born there before moving on. The Advent Centre Church operates as a revolving door church for multi-cultural students and business people who come to London for a few years. It is also used as an operating base for the London Adventist Chorale who are a well known witness throughout the country.

The New Gallery had 10-12 years of public Evangelism, in the post war years when people attended large meetings, after which it took a lower profile. It then became a hub for the hundreds of immigrants of the Post Windrush era. This was regarded as a mixed blessing from a sociological perspective, but many churches were spawned from this group, including the purchase of a church in upscale Hampstead.

I trust you will find this synopsis helpful.