The final weekend of September 2013 will long be remembered by the elders of the Atlantic Caribbean Union as one when they were accorded permission to baptize those special ones whom they worked with. As a part of the initiatives for the Inter-American Division’s Year of the Laity emphasis, some 50,000 active elders were granted the privilege of baptizing. In ATCU, 23 of our elders took advantage of the offer and baptized a total of 34 persons- according to the initial report. Praise God for these new babes in Christ and the efforts of our elders in preparing their candidates for baptism. One elder remarked, “baptisms will increase if elders are accorded this privilege to baptize from time to time.”
Festival of the Laity
Apart from just being a time for baptizing, Sabbath, September 28, 2013 marked the fulfillment of another initiative planned for this year, throughout the Inter-American Division, to affirm and recognize the laity of the church. Accordingly, the two Bahamas fields, the North and South conferences observed the local festival of the laity. These, like the previous one in the Turks and Caicos Islands, were punctuated with church marching, soul stirring reports; music fit for the occasion and lay preaching. Indeed the laity made their leadership proud. These services underscored the value and need of each member in proclaiming the good news of Christ in the church, community, home or marketplace.
This Sabbath, October 6, marks the culmination of the Festival of Laity celebrations. Meeting in George Town, Grand Cayman, the Union will team up with the Cayman Islands Conference to affirm the lay members there. Additionally, the Union will recognize 4 outstanding laypersons, one from each field in the Union. These are the outstanding laypersons from the four fields. Of course, these awards pale in comparison to many persons sacrificing and serving weekly. Nevertheless, we must make a start; but we are mindful of that ultimate reward when our Lord will say, “Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of thy Lord.”
Work Yet to be Finished
I remind you, my dear brothers and sisters, that there are nearly 500,000 people that make up the Bahamas, Cayman, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Of that number, 30,000 represent our Union’s membership. Given the disparity between the two numbers, it must be clear that our work is cut out for us. With nearly 50 pastors and church administrators making up the full-time leaders of ATCU, we are greatly challenged, but with our hundreds of elders and thousands of church officers coming together, there is much hope of reaching our territory with the gospel message. Additionally, I remind you to pray and prepare for the outpouring of the latter rain that we may do the work of God with power and great glory. Ponder these words: “It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe” (COL 328.1).