Constituency Session Highlights Growth and Lays Out Priorities Going Forward

Posted on Oct 09 2018

Constituents from the Southeastern California Conference met at La Sierra University church on Sunday morning, October 7, 2018, worshiping God together before conducting the business of the day. The worship included participation from various groups from churches of the conference. These provided music, a skit, and prayer. A homily delivered by Kendra Haloviak-Valentine, religion professor at La Sierra University, highlighted Paul's shift from the zealous persecutor to the messenger of God's grace.


“Sharing God's grace was at the very heart of Paul's ministry,” she said. “His experience had changed his picture of God and his picture of people—one of growing together in Christ.”


With a church full of delegates the business of the day was underway. The officer report focused on various goals and accomplishments of the past five years. They aspired to be more team oriented, healthier, authentic, and spirit-filled.


Since 2013, over 7,800 new members joined this conference putting the membership just shy of 70,000. However, there was an emphasis on more than just numbers, specifically there was time given in the officer report to highlight “A Compass for Our Future.” This strategic initiative was created and launched during the past quinquennium and contains four priorities.


The first is engagement with next the generation. For example, churches were encouraged to submit proposals on how to engage young adults in the church, and in turn, they could receive money from a special grant devoted to this specific priority. Several successive videos portrayed creative ways in which members are already engaging in multi-generational leadership.


The second priority is evangelism. Every member and every church is encouraged to live out their mission in their communities. The goal is to get to know the communities that are under served, and providing needs that may otherwise not be met.


The third one, is about education. Churches are encouraged to pray for and support Adventist education. New curriculum coaches have assisted teachers in developing, implementing, and delivering new techniques to better relay the classroom materials to the students.


The fourth priority focuses on equipping church members with the tools needed for their ministries. Training took place throughout the conference over the past five years, including a comprehensive “Equip 2 Serve” event, a workshop held in Riverside and San Diego earlier this year, where over 900 local church ministry leaders were provided tools to better serve their respective ministries.


Together, these priorities will lead to an ongoing collaboration between the conference and local congregations to continually expand the kingdom of God.


The most anticipated order of business was the election of conference officers. All six, who were recommended by the nominating committee, were confirmed. These included Sandra Roberts, president; Jonathan Park, executive secretary; Verlon Strauss, treasurer; Elizer Sacay, vice president for Asian/Pacific ministries; Robert Edwards, vice president for Black ministries, who replaces George King as he retired; and Yohalmo Saravia, vice president for Hispanic ministries, who replaces Alberto Ingleton because he accepted a position at the Pacific Union.


Following their election, the officers were dedicated with a prayer by Karen Martell, prayer ministry coordinator. She prayed that the officers may have the mind of Christ in their service to others.


An update was also given on Pine Springs Ranch. This summer, the camp was under evacuation orders due to wildfires, a similar situation as five years ago. However, no buildings were lost this time around. It seems like the burnt landscape from five years ago may have stopped the fire from overtaking the camp. There are still projects—such as a new entrance to the camp and new cabins—that have stalled due to issues with the county permits. The hope is that the projects will be underway soon.


Additionally, a few other items were addressed. Over a dozen churches and companies that were formed within the last five years were seated and voted in with overwhelming support. As is common, some wording in the bylaws was changed in for the sake of clarity. Four of the five motions passed.


As the session drew to a close, the congregation returned to the spirit of worship. They were led in song with the words “We are the Body of Christ.”


“As Your body, we leave this place,” prayed Roberts. “We go, oh God, looking forward to how you will be glorified through the work that will be done in every church, every school, and every family. We are committed to growing together in Christ.”

By Mario A. Munoz