All Hands on Deck

The above caption is a familiar idiom which can mean many things to many persons. However, for the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), it is a call for the coming together of pastors and members - of clergy and laity- to evangelize the union territory of the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is an appeal that mirrors the focus of the Adventist Church in Inter-America which has dubbed 2013 “The Year of the Laity.” Consequently, given this emphasis of the Inter-American Division (IAD), ATCU restates the call to evangelize, touts the power of unity, and encourages a greater enlisting of members.

The Call to Evangelize
That Christ commanded His church to “teach,” “preach,” “make disciples,” and “baptize” is unquestionable. However, to fulfill that mission requires an authority and power that is akin to the Giver. It comes from heaven, and being the all-knowing and wise God that He is, God made provision for the execution of the mission given to the church. He declared, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth” and therefore the enjoinment “Go.” “Go and teach,” “go and preach,” “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Power of Unity
Given that the power is available, is there anything else likely to affect the fulfillment of the gospel mandate? Yes - it is a reluctance to unite and work together as clergy and laity to reach the world for Christ. It is no secret that there are many more lay members as opposed to trained ministers. Therefore, if the church depended just on the clergy, it is not likely that all people would be reached with the good news of God’s love and power.

Ellen White, an inspired writer understood this fact, for she wrote, “The real workers in this cause are few, yet the work covers much ground; and it is often impossible for the laborers to look after the interest awakened, and they fail to discern that they must enlist the lay members of the church, and teach them to work, that they may hold all that has been gained, and continue to advance. The plan of labor has been such as to lead the people to feel that they could do very little themselves; if anything was to be accomplished, they must have a minister” (Gospel Workers, p. 219).

The Need for Enlisting
Believing in the priesthood of all believers, the Seventh-day Adventist Church detests any exclusivity of clergy to evangelize, but instead embraces the view that, as noted by Pastor Israel Leito, president of the IAD, “it is the duty of pastors and laity to join forces, skills, talents, and resources to bring salvation to the people of countries that are part of our division.” Therefore, the Atlantic Caribbean Union, in tandem with the Inter-American Division, encourages a greater lay involvement throughout its four fields. There is need for the empowering and releasing of our lay brethren so that this gospel with its richness and fullness may be carried in ways that otherwise may not be utilized.

As such, I remind elders of the special baptism for September 28, 2013. While you are to conduct the baptism providing that you have prepared your candidates, permission must be granted by your field president.

Finally, I wish to point to a serious of Festival of the Laity celebrations beginning this weekend in the Turks and Caicos Mission, on September 28 in South Bahamas and in the Cayman Islands Conference October 4-5. Do your part!