By Henry R. Moncur III, ACTU Communication Department
Members of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) executive committee met via Zoom during May 16 and 17, 2023, for the first of two meetings held annually – mid-year (MY) and year-end. The executive committee (comprised of union officers and directors; administrators, church employees, and lay leaders from the four conferences; and leaders from Northern Caribbean University) has the responsibility of directing the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Atlantic Caribbean region.
Peter Kerr, president of ATCU, served as chair of the meetings as the members voted new strategies and plans for the development of the work in ATCU. Among the actions and reports coming out of the two-day meeting are the following:
New Departmental Director
Pastor Terry Tanis was elected as the director for the Youth Ministries, Stewardship Ministries, Family Ministries, and Public Campus Ministries Departments, effective July 1, 2023. The election of Tanis, executive secretary of the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference, came as the result of the retirement of Pastor Michael Smith which begins on July 1, 2023. Pastor Smith has served the Adventist church for forty-one years (41 years) as a pastor, director, and administrator.
Mission Refocus Adopt-a-Territory/People Group
The executive committee voted to adopt Cuba as part of its commitment to the Adventist World Church’s Mission Refocus Adopt-a-Territory/ People Group priority initiative. This mission refocus adoption initiative encourages all divisions, General Conference-attached union, and 10 institutions to prayerfully consider what they can do to help high-priority mission areas beyond their own territories. The exact support to be given by ATCU will be determined after discussion with the Cuba union.
150th Anniversary of Mission
The committee voted to observe November 8-9, 2024, as “mission weekend” when persons from ATCU who have served as missionaries in the union’s territory and outside the territory will be honored and recognized. This special weekend will be done in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Seventh-day Adventist church sending its first missionary overseas in 1874.
To continue to sensitize the communities of ATCU of the need to end all forms of domestic violence now, ATCU will once again join hands in spreading the message to end it now. Enditnow activities will take place August 25-26, 2023. The weekend will culminate with a march and mass rally to be held simultaneously in all fields across ATCU.
Missionary Book of the Year
The Great Controversy by Ellen White was adopted as the book of the year for 2024. March 16 of that year will be the day for the distribution of the book across ATCU. Each field will develop plans for this important initiative. “We want to promote this book and make sure it gets into the hands of our members. We must invite members to read it and see the importance of sharing it so that others can receive the vital message that is in this book,” said Dr. Rolle.
Every Family in Mission
Considering the growing nature of secularization in the church and society that have minimizing effects on spiritual growth in families and the need for greater emphasis in families fulfilling the mission of the Lord, the committee voted to be a part of the collaborative special impact program of the Inter-American Division (IAD) and the regional conferences of the North American Division in executing reaping campaigns. “Families working with families is the prime focus. Each family will identify two persons with whom they will share the gospel in 2024,” said Kerr. The reaping series will take place March 23 – April 6, 2024, culminating with a “Grand Family in Mission Celebration Day” with division-wide baptisms across IAD. “This is a grand time to have our families involved in reaching other families for the kingdom of God,” said Pastor Michael Smith, ATCU Family Ministries director.
Recognizing the importance of developing leaders in the churches and fields in ATCU, committee members voted to support the IAD’s SeLD (Segmented Leadership Development) conference scheduled for July 24-26, 2023. Under the theme “Treasure in Broken Vessels for the Fulfillment of the Mission,” SeLD is designed to inspire and motivate leaders to achieve greater effectiveness in the execution of their responsibilities in fulfilling the mission of the organization they are a part of.
The conference is open to leaders in unions, local fields, institutions, and churches, inclusive of administrators, departmental leaders, Human Resource directors, pastors, and elders, and will be a hybrid program. ATCU has been assigned a quota of 110 spots: 20 spots for in-person attendance and 90 for online. Those planning to attend should notify the executive secretaries of their local fields before registering online.
Executive Secretary’s Report
As of the end of March 2023, there were 183 baptisms for which the committee expressed thanks to God. However, the union experienced a net loss of 1,117 members, bringing the union’s membership to 27,352. “Most of the loss was due to adjustments in membership related to the continued redemptive membership review being carried out by the conferences,” noted Dr. Cheryl Rolle, ATCU executive secretary. “This process is important in ensuring that our statistical reports are a true reflection of our membership and that we will have accurate information on which to base future planning,” Rolle said.
While there were areas for continued strategic planning in soul winning and membership growth, the report noted the increase in the number of churches and companies in ATCU.
Roderick Sands, ATCU treasurer, noted that for the period January to April 2023, tithe was up by 23% and offering by 40%, in comparison to the same period for 2022. “We continue to see the dedication and commitment of the members in their giving, and we give all praise to God. We appreciate their faithfulness and will ensure that we do our best to continue to utilize the funds effectively to carry out the mission of spreading the gospel,” said Sands.
The two days of meetings were covered in prayer, and members left the meeting inspired to continue to press forward with spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in their territories.
With a membership of 27,352, ATCU, which is headquartered in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas, comprises four fields, namely, the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference. In addition, Northern Caribbean University, which is in Mandeville, Jamaica, is jointly owned and operated by ATCU and the Jamaica Union.