By Dawne Forbes
With the dawn of the New Year, the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) will join its 23 sister unions in the Inter-American Division (IAD) in observing 2018 as the Year of the Child and Adolescent. Under the theme The Talking Backpack, Adventist children and their friends in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands will learn about and practice 12 values that will help to strengthen their spiritual and moral development.
“For twelve months, our leaders will use strategies to instill in our children values for eternity (VE), such as truthfulness, courtesy, respect, thankfulness, and punctuality among others,” said Dr. Cheryl Rolle, children’s and adolescent ministries director of ATCU. “Children will then be encouraged to practice the values and share what they have learned with their friends. Once a child satisfactorily completes the given assignments each month, he or she would earn the corresponding pin. The child would then attach the earned pin to a backpack, indicating to everyone his or her accomplishment.”
The exciting monthly activities are also designed to nurture the child’s and adolescent’s desire and ability for effective witnessing.
“The Talking Backpack is a program of missionary impact that will provide the opportunity for each child and young person involved to use the most effective means of evangelization based on personal, spiritual, and moral growth as a safe means of testifying,” explained Mrs. M. Dinorah Rivera, IAD children’s and adolescent ministries director and program organizer.
To ensure that your child or adolescent is a part of this amazing opportunity for spiritual growth and witnessing, you may contact the local conference/mission children’s and adolescent ministries director in the Cayman Islands at 345-949-2647; in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas at 242-374-2051; in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas at 242-341-4021; or in the Turks and Caicos Islands at 649-941-8735.
By Dawne Forbes
During the week of Sunday, December 10 through Saturday, December 16, 2017, the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) will conduct evangelism and leadership training sessions for pastors and lay members of the South Bahamas Conference (SBC). While the seminars are primarily for pastors, the joint plenary and worship sessions that will be held at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10; at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 11, through Friday, December 15; and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 16 will be open to all members. You may view a complete schedule here.
Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU and the organizer of the event, explained that this training will take place in all fields (Cayman Islands Conference, North Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission) within the union by the end of summer 2018 to ensure that the members are properly prepared for the Lord Transform Me (LTM) reaping campaigns set to take place in ATCU in 2019.
Since 2015, the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD) has spearheaded an evangelistic endeavor known as “Lord Transform Me,” an initiative that calls for the membership of the 24 unions of the IAD to be involved in witnessing activities and major evangelistic campaigns annually. Each year, the IAD selects a union to be the site where evangelists from around the division would converge to conduct one-week reaping campaigns culminating in a grand baptismal service at the end of the week. In 2019, ATCU will be the host site for the LTM reaping campaigns.
“The goal of this training session,” said Dr. Johnson, “is to equip pastors and lay members with the necessary training, knowledge, and tools for evangelism; for in 2019, the ATCU will host the Lord Transform Me celebration when various speakers and translators from around the division will be proclaiming the gospel at 60 sites throughout the union for one week. On the final day of this week, it is our hope that one thousand baptisms would take place in the union.”
According to Dr. Johnson, pastors and members who participate will gain an understanding of their roles, calling, and God-given gifts and come to realize that God equips each one differently for His service. Dr. Johnson also indicated that by attending the open evening sessions, elders would be able to receive certification in Church Administration, thus fulfilling a mandate by the IAD that church elders should undergo 20 hours of training each year.
Among the presenters for the 7-day training event are Pastor John Bradshaw, speaker/director of “It Is Written,” who will focus on Media Evangelism; Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director, IAD, who will discuss Small Group Evangelism and Involving Youth in Evangelism for Millennials; Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director, IAD, speaking on The Need for Prayer in the Life of the Believer and Member Conservation; and Pastor Maxwell Berkel of the Dutch Union in Curacao, addressing Leadership Skills and Relationships between Pastors.
Local presenters will be Dr. Leonard A. Johnson, Pastor Peter Kerr, Elder Roderick Sands, Pastor Kent Price, Pastor Paul A. Scavella, Pastor Peter Joseph, Pastor C. Melvin Lewis, Pastor Leonardo Rahming, Pastor T. Basil Sturrup, and Pastor Lynden Williams who will be presenting on topics from Preparing Biblical Sermons to Financial Management.
If you require further information about the upcoming seminars, you may contact Dr. Leonard A. Johnson or Pastor Peter Kerr of ATCU at 242-341-5153 or Pastors Paul Scavella, Peter Joseph, or T. Basil Sturrup of SBC at 242-341-4021.
Under the theme “Faithfulness to His Word,” the executive committee of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), the principal governing and policy-making body of the Adventist church in the Atlantic Caribbean region, conducted its year-end meetings on November 9, 2017 (held via video conference) and November 14, 2017 (convened at the union office in Nassau, Bahamas).
The thirty-member committee is made up of representatives from the four fields of ATCU (Cayman Islands Conference, North Bahamas Conference, South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission (TCIM)) as well as the union’s university, Northern Caribbean University. Representing the Inter-American Division (IAD) was Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the president for evangelism and field secretary. Agenda items focused on implementing key strategies for evangelism, leadership development, and education among others.
Assistance for TCIM
During the meeting on November 14, members praised God for His mercies during the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria which barreled through the Turks and Caicos Islands in early September 2017. Pastor Smith, president of the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission, reported that while all of the buildings sustained major damage, residents and members were thankful that no lives were lost as a direct result of the hurricanes.
In a demonstration of solidarity and support, the officers of the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, and the South Bahamas Conference presented checks to the officers of the TCIM to assist with the recovery efforts. The Cayman Islands Conference indicated that they would also be sending a 20ft container with relief items and supplies. Pastor Smith expressed heartfelt appreciation for the assistance.
In addition to the fields reaffirming their baptismal goals for 2018, the committee voted to support the IAD’s Lord Transform Me calendar of activities for next year. Pastor Kerr, ATCU executive secretary and assistant to the president for evangelism, also gave an update on the plans for the reaping campaigns that will take place in the ATCU territory in 2019.
Since 2015, the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD) has spearheaded an evangelistic endeavor known as “Lord Transform Me (LTM),” an initiative that calls for the membership of the 24 unions of the IAD to be involved in witnessing activities and major evangelistic campaigns annually. Each year, the IAD selects a union to be the site where evangelists from around the division would converge to conduct one-week reaping campaigns culminating in a grand baptismal service at the end of the week. In 2019, ATCU will be the host site for the LTM reaping campaigns.
For this huge outreach event, there will be 60 evangelistic sites throughout the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands assigned to over 50 preachers, Bible workers, and leaders who will be coming from all over the IAD. At the end of the week-long reaping campaigns, the union leaders expect that 1000 persons would be baptized in ATCU on the grand baptismal day.
Pastor Peter Kerr, ATCU LTM coordinator, revealed that leading up to the event, a number of training sessions in small group ministries and evangelism strategies will take place across the union to empower the many volunteers who are needed to make this massive outreach a success. Additionally, the focus of the union’s 2018 prayer initiative will be the 2019 LTM reaping campaigns.
In the education arena, committee members voted to adopt the certification program for elementary and secondary school principals and vice principals proposed by the Education Department of the IAD. According to Dr. Cheryl Rolle, ATCU education director, the program aims to increase administrator efficiency and is also open to area coordinators and conference directors of education. Once the participants would have completed the required courses, they would receive a five-year certification. Upon expiration, recipients will have to renew by completing additional courses.
There are four schools within the union: Bahamas Academy in New Providence, The Bahamas; Grand Bahama Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas; Maranatha Academy in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands; and Cayman Academy in George Town, Grand Cayman.
With regard to leadership empowerment, the committee voted to support the IAD’s second segment of the leadership development program scheduled for July 9 – 11, 2018. The programs objectives are (1) to guide organizational leaders in developing their leadership capacity; (2) to expose organizational leaders to trends, issues, and best practices in organizational leadership; and (3) to provide leaders with a forum for networking and cross-cultural leadership exposure. Pastor Balvin Braham, IAD leadership development coordinator, explained that the event is open to union and field officers and directors, institutional leaders and administrators, pastors, and elders. As space will be limited for each seminar, proposed attendees must pre-register by January 20, 2018, on the designated website.
Newly Elected Directors
Pastor Johnson, president of ATCU, welcomed Pastor Kent Price, newly elected ATCU director of the Personal Ministries, Stewardship, and Youth Departments, to his first committee meeting since being voted to the position on August 31, 2017. Pastor Price replaces Pastor Eric Clarke who was asked to serve as president of the North Bahamas Conference earlier this year.
Also, during the year-end meetings, the committee voted to ask Pastor Kenny Deveaux to serve as the director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and as coordinator of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) for ATCU. As this is a part-time position, Pastor Deveaux will continue as a full-time pastor of the South Bahamas Conference.
ATCU 2018 Calendar of Events
The 2018 Calendar of Events was voted and can be found here.
One of the scheduled meetings during the year-end activities was the Administrators’ Summit where leaders from the four fields of ATCU met under the theme “Faithfulness to the Mission” to strategize on such issues as “Prioritizing Evangelism,” “Remaining Committed to the Ideals of SDA Education,” and “Nurture and Retention.” Presenters included the officers and directors of the union.
Resolution of Gratitude
At the conclusion of the year-end meetings, committee members supported the Resolution of Gratitude to God for his blessings, guidance, and protection during 2017. They then asked Him to bless the decisions and plans that were made and left inspired to continue God’s business in the Atlantic Caribbean territory.
ATCU Communication Department
The executive committee of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, at its annual year-end meetings, which were held in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico from Friday, October 20 to Sunday, October 22, 2017, elected Dr. Leonard A. Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists, with headquarters in Nassau, Bahamas, to the position of associate ministerial secretary for the 24 unions of the division.
Dr. Johnson becomes the second Bahamian national to be elected to lead a department of this division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The first was Dr. Leslie V. McMillan who served as ministerial and communication director.
We congratulate Dr. Johnson on his election to this important leadership position and wish to assure him of our prayers for God to continue to bless his ministry with good success.
“God has brought you to the right place where you can surrender, renew, rejuvenate, and recommit your whole being to a God who is anxiously waiting to meet you where you are!” said Mrs. Jacqueline Gibson, women’s ministries director of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in her welcome to the ladies from across the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) territory attending the union’s Women’s Ministries Retreat held during the weekend of October 20-22, 2017, at the Melia Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. This year’s retreat, hosted by the South Bahamas Conference, was under the theme “Fulfilling my Purpose.” Among the almost 300 attendees were ladies from other denominations as well as from the Adventist conferences and mission in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Mrs. Denise Johnson, women’s ministries director of ATCU, in her welcome message invited attendees to use the weekend to focus on God and His purpose for their lives as noted in the theme text for the retreat, Jeremiah 29:11. “Are you aware of the plans God has for you? And, if you are, have you accepted them and are walking according to His purpose?” she asked.
Bringing greetings on the opening night were Pastor Paul Scavella, president of the South Bahamas Conference, and Dr. Cheryl Rolle, associate secretary of ATCU, who spoke on behalf of the president of ATCU, Pastor Leonard Johnson.
The speaker for this power-packed weekend was Ms. Linda Anderson, dean of women at Oakwood University. At the commencement of the retreat, she spoke to the attendees on the topic “Peculiar Women of Purpose,” showcasing women who by the world’s standards were not considered suitable, but for whom God had a purpose.
Throughout the weekend, the women in attendance were reminded of the biblical principles that point them toward discovering and fulfilling their purpose in God. On Sabbath afternoon, time was carved out specifically for the GEMS (Girls Empowered for Ministry and Service) in attendance where they openly discussed issues and were given guidance on how to find and fulfill their purpose as young women.
The weekend concluded with a moving pinning ceremony where women were encouraged to continue to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.
On the afternoon of Sabbath, October 14, the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), hosted by the South Bahamas Conference (SBC), held its Bible Connection (formerly Bible Boom) competition finals under the theme “Study to Satisfy; Memorize to Maximize.”
Visitors and church members attended the event at the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church where Kianna Rankin of the Cayman Islands Conference; Stephon Forbes of the North Bahamas Conference (NBC); Charles Greene of SBC; and Adrian Reader of the Turks & Caicos Island Mission (TCIM) showcased their Bible knowledge. This competition among the four territories of ATCU was held to determine who would represent the union in the wider competition with the other semi-finalists from the 23 union fields within the Inter-American Division (IAD).
Pastor Kent Price, youth ministries director of ATCU, stated that the competition, organized by the Youth Ministries Department of the IAD, was more than just memorizing the Bible. He explained that it was about connecting with the word of God and developing a relationship with Him. He congratulated each of the finalists and admonished them to continue to draw nearer to Christ.
Pastor Paul A. Scavella, president of the SBC, brought remarks and congratulated the Youth Ministries Department of ATCU for helping young individuals to stay connected to God’s word.
Dr. Leonard A. Johnson, president of ATCU, also greeted the participants and their well-wishers. He observed, “The fact that the Youth Ministries Department is sponsoring such a program underscores the importance of being reconnected to God.”
Moderated by Ms. Takara Lewis and Elder Curtis Bryan of SBC, the competition was conducted via a software designed by the IAD where participants sit at computers to answer 50 questions with a maximum value of 450 points. The response time of the participant is also recorded. If there is a tie in points, response time would be the tie-breaker.
Once the competition had ended, Mr. Adrian Reader of TCIM was declared the victor with a score of 385 points. He would now go on to represent ATCU in the IAD’s finals that will be held in Cancun, Mexico during December 1 – 3, 2017.
In commenting after the victory, Judith Robinson, youth ministries director of TCIM, praised God for His faithfulness and His protection during Hurricane Irma. Ms. Robinson stated that while more than half of the Turks and Caicos Islands was still without electricity, Mr. Reader had not allowed the absence of light to deter him from his mission to delve deeper into the Scriptures.
In 2011, Waylon Johnson from NBC won the IAD’s finals and then captured the winning trophy in 2015 during the IAD’s contest among the quinquennium’s four champions (Super Bible Boom), earning the privilege of attending the 2015 General Conference Session as a youth delegate. This year, ATCU is hopeful of earning yet another championship at the 2017 IAD Bible Connection finals.
From Left to right:
Stephon Forbes of The North Bahamas Conference, 315 points in 7min 37sec; Kianna Rankin of the Cayman Islands Conference, 315 points in 6min 16sec; Adrian Reader of the Turks and Caicos Islands, 385 points in 10min 12sec; Charles Greene of the South Bahamas Conference, 320 points in 10min 35sec.
In Seventh-day Adventist churches around the world, the annual Ingathering Campaign is an endeavour in which Adventist members ask for a financial contribution from friends, family members, neighbours, and businesses to assist others in need. Consequently, under the theme Service from the Heart, the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) has designated October as Ingathering Month.
According to Pastor Johnson, president of the ATCU, “This drive appeals to the public for financial assistance in order to maintain a necessary service of love and kindness to humanity.”
The funds received from the Ingathering program will help with several humanitarian efforts such as providing clothes and food, educational and medical assistance, disaster relief, and much more to persons needing help. Within ATCU’s three-island territory of The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, members collect funds during this month in several ways, one of the major means being person-to-person solicitation.
With this being the hurricane season, the monetary donations collected during this campaign will help in assisting those affected by the devastation of a hurricane.
“Contributions to our 2017 Ingathering Campaign will go a long way in once again helping to enrich the lives of many in need,” said Pastor Kent A. Price, ATCU personal ministries director.
For more information about the campaign or to make a donation, you may contact a Seventh-day Adventist church near you.
Atlantic Caribbean Union Continues Training for Sabbath School Teachers
The Advanced Online Certification for Sabbath School Teachers has been an ongoing process spearheaded by the Inter-American Division and coordinated by the Atlantic Caribbean Union within its territory of the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“The purpose of this online certification is to teach new methods, give new ideas, and infuse new life in Sabbath Schools throughout the union,” says Pastor Leonardo Rahming, director of Sabbath School and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
This certification is beneficial not only to those taking the course, but also to the wider church population. With teachers being effectively trained, it empowers them to take a more active approach in facilitating lesson discussions and motivates members to become more engaged in the study of God’s word as they use the Bible study guides.
According to Pastor Rahming, the Atlantic Caribbean Union has approximately 200 persons undergoing basic training and approximately 20 persons currently enrolled in the online certification program since its commencement in the first quarter of 2016. There are four courses with each course running for approximately 6-8 weeks. Graduation is expected to take place on February 24, 2018. Those interested in taking part in the Advanced Online Certification should contact their local conference/mission Sabbath School director.
Dawne Forbes, ATCU Communication Department
The weekend of October 13-15, 2017, promises to be one of ministry and excitement as the youth around the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) participate in the Public Campus Ministries (PCM) Weekend. During this time, activities will highlight the ministry’s aim which is to “transform students on non-Adventist campuses into Seventh-day Adventist ambassadors of Christ in colleges/universities, churches, communities, and the world at large” (www.pcm.adventist.org, 2017).
This weekend is an opportunity for all to get involved in outreach ministries on non-Adventist college campuses with the goal of enriching students’ devotional lives and deepening their relationship with God. According to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Public Campus Ministries Manual, “The absence of parental presence and guidance…causes adolescents to make more decisions on their own; and these youth are frequently influenced by their peers more than anyone else”(p. 3).
“There are a number of ways to get involved during this weekend. However, it begins with forming a friendship with those you want to minister to. Bible studies, study groups, inviting students to your local church, and simply praying for those you want to reach, are all good ways to become involved in this outreach ministry,” said Pastor Kent Price, ATCU PCM director.
Just one week after our union’s PCM Weekend, there is a Global Public Campus Ministries Weekend planned for October 20 – 22 when “those who share a passion for campus ministries can be part of the celebration of worship, fellowship and serve” (www.pcm.adventist.org, 2017). There will be over eight speakers with more than fourteen countries represented and twenty-one live broadcasts. For more information on the program and registration, visit www.pcm.adventist.org.
To find out more information on what your church/conference/mission plans may be for Public Campus Ministries Weekend, contact your local Youth Department.
ATCU Communication Department
Between September 6 and 10, 2017, Irma, a category-5 hurricane, passed through the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and the southern Bahamas, two countries within the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) with fury and left many residents displaced.
Before the storm’s passage through the islands, the administration of the ATCU, the organizational body that oversees the work of the Adventist church in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, along with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) were proactive in sourcing supplies and coordinating relief efforts.
After the nerve-wracking ordeal, Pastor Smith, president of the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission (TCIM), and his wife, Lynn, gave thanks to Almighty God. “There was damage to our home, but it was nothing compared to what others had suffered,” said Pastor Smith as he along with several volunteers from the Adventist Church in the Turks and Caicos Islands, many of whom had suffered damage as well, sprang into action to help those affected by Irma.
A delegation comprised of persons from the South Bahamas Conference (SBC) and the ATCU flew in to Providenciales to assess the damage done by Hurricane Irma and to give assistance.
Pastor Leonard Johnson, ATCU president; Pastor Peter Kerr, ATCU executive secretary; Elder Roderick Sands, ATCU treasurer; Pastor Leonardo Rahming, ADRA and Sabbath School director; and Pastor Kent Price, personal ministries, stewardship, and youth director, visited and prayed with persons in TCI. In the few hours that they were able to spend in the battered country, they stopped by a number of homes to assure members that the church had heard of and seen the devastation and would be working on continued assistance until their lives are returned to normalcy.
Elders Anthony Burrows and Winston Ash from SBC presented a donation on behalf of SBC to president Smith, committing to solidarity during these challenging times.
On the way back to the Bahamas, the delegation stopped in Inagua, one of the islands in the southern Bahamas that also experienced damage due to Irma. Even though there was some damage, the delegation observed, as they drove around the island visiting members and non-members alike, that the spirits of the islanders were high.
The team was encouraged by the positive spirit of the community members of both TCI and Inagua who were praising God for being spared and were ready to rebuild.
Residents of TCI as well as the Bahamas are now bracing for another monster hurricane, Maria, heading their way. The entire membership of ATCU joins in prayer, asking God for protection as Maria heads to the islands of the Caribbean.
Jamaican gospel singer and song writer Carey Sayles last Saturday afternoon (22 July, 2017) electrified a capacity audience at the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church as the feature artiste in a three-hour gospel concert.
Mr. Sayles was in Cayman for a free performance in support of the church’s youth ministry.
The packed church clapped, waved, sang and otherwise showed their delight in response to the high-energy style of artiste Sayles. The musical experience as he belted out several medleys and songs over the course of the afternoon’s musical extravaganza was made even more moving by interspersed snippets of his life story.
That story is one of particular determination and deep faith despite often devastating obstacles, rising today as he has to the heights of a musical career and establishing himself as a professional in the Jamaica public service.
Growing up in the Arnett Garden area of Trench Town, he survived to tell the tale of several close death experiences: “I saw men killed and most of my friends turning to guns,” he said, “but because of my mother’s and stepfather’s care and guidance, and the protection of my Heavenly Father, I was able to resist the forces of evil.”
So instead of succumbing to the pressures of an environment that has had such deadly impacts on young lives, today he is a graduate of the Mandeville-headquartered Northern Caribbean University, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is now a supervisor at the Jamaica National Housing Trust.
Praise 87.9 radio station took a moment on Wednesday (19 July) to wish Radio Doctor Andy Shillingford well as he departs Cayman for his next tour of service, this time in the UK where he will join the British National Health Service.
As a token of appreciation, Conference Executive Secretary Pastor Reinaldo Dracket presented a plaque to Dr. Shillinford in recognition of his four years’ service to the Conference’s radio station.
“Your service as radio doctor has enriched lives,” Pastor Dracket said, thanking him on behalf of the Conference and the community at large and wishing him well for the future.
Dr. Shillingford served on the popular once weekly “Doctor’s Orders,” programme since 2013, and departs tomorrow (20 July) for the UK. His wife Mrs. Angeline Shillingford served for several years as the president of Cayman Academy’s Home School Association (HSA). Dr. Shillingford leaves Cayman after eleven years’ service with the Health Services Authority.
“It’s been a good eleven years,” he said. “I have enjoyed the community and the people and I am going to miss Cayman.” Of his role on Doctor’s Orders, he said: “It has been fun,” adding: “I have enjoyed working with Dwayne”, the host for the programme and the station’s manager.
The Cayman Brac community enjoyed its first health fair organised by the Adventist Church’s Community Services Department in collaboration with national and local private and public support.
The large contingent of nearly 50 Grand Cayman volunteers joined forces with the Brac’s volunteers in a three-day community outreach programme during which they launched the health fair. The volunteers arrived on Friday evening, 16 June, and departed on Monday, 19 June.
“It was truly a collaborative effort involving businesses and individuals on the national and local levels and the many hardworking volunteers on both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac,” said Associate Director Angela Hall. Coordinating the Cayman Brac volunteer effort leading up to the visit was Brac Community Services Leader Neila Jones.
The Associate Director especially noted the contribution of Brac MLAs and Cabinet Ministers, the Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Deputy Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, who jointly funded one night’s accommodation for the Grand Cayman’s contingent’s at the Brac’s Esperanza Guest House. She also thanked Esperanza’s Manager Rochelle Smith for special discount rates.
The officers and directors of the Atlantic Caribbean Union congratulate Pastor Eric D. Clarke on his election as president and Pastor Andrew Burrows and Mrs. Tonia Palmer on their re-election as secretary and treasurer respectively of the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NBC), the administrative body that directs the work of the Adventist church in the North Bahamas territory.
NBC conducted its fifth regular session at the Freeport Church in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas on June 3 and 4. At the session, the delegates to the session also elected departmental directors and the members of the executive committee of the conference who are now responsible for governing the conference and giving oversight to its affairs.
We pray for the continued success of the North Bahamas Conference under its new leadership and express heartfelt gratitude to outgoing president, Pastor Henry R. Moncur, for his dedicated service as an administrator.
ATCU Communication Department
The executive committee of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), the principal governing and policy-making body of the Adventist church in the Atlantic Caribbean region, concluded its series of meetings for the mid-year period of 2017 at the union headquarters in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday, June 1, 2017.
ATCU has changed the way it assembles the executive committee to economize without compromising the efficiency of the meetings. Usually, the meetings would be held over a two-day period with members residing outside of Nassau, Bahamas traveling to Nassau for the meetings. However, since 2014 and with the use of a video conferencing platform, the union administrators have been able to conduct one day of the meetings online. This proved to be financially prudent and decreased the amount of time committee members spent away from their families, offices, and personal responsibilities.
With this new schedule, the committee, which is comprised of almost thirty persons, held its first day of meetings online on May 25, 2017, with the second being conducted at the union headquarters in Nassau on June 1. Agenda items focused on implementing key strategies for evangelism, education, and youth ministries among others.
In 2015, the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD) embarked on an evangelistic endeavor known as “Lord Transform Me (LTM),” an initiative that calls for the membership of the 24 unions of the IAD to be involved in witnessing activities and major evangelistic campaigns annually. Each year, the IAD selects a union to be the site where evangelists from around the division would converge to conduct one-week reaping campaigns culminating in a grand baptismal service at the end of the week. The union chosen to be the host site in the spring of 2019 is ATCU and, consequently, the committee voted the plans for organizing and preparing for this huge event. It is projected that there would be over 60 evangelistic sites throughout ATCU assigned to over 60 preachers, Bible workers, and leaders who will be coming from all over the IAD. At the end of the week-long reaping campaigns, the union leaders expect that 1000 persons would be baptized on the grand baptismal day in ATCU.
Pastor Peter Kerr, ATCU LTM coordinator, revealed that leading up to the event a number of training sessions in small group ministries and evangelism strategies will take place across the union to empower the many volunteers who are needed to make this massive outreach a success.
In education, committee members accepted the union board of education’s recommendation that all schools within ATCU have the same mission statement, vision statement, and value statements and, consequently, voted to adopt the new statements proposed. Union education director, Dr. Cheryl Rolle, explained that this development represented the first step in the move towards the ATCU schools becoming a school system rather than a system of schools.
According to Dr. Rolle, the goal of the school system initiative is for all ATCU schools to engage in the standardized implementation of global best practices in the areas of
governance and leadership, academics and instruction, and finance in providing quality
Adventist education to the students in the Atlantic Caribbean Union territory.
“While each school will maintain its uniqueness and personality, all schools of the ATCU will be working together to ensure that each school has a clear and shared mission and vision; high standards and expectations; effective school leadership; high levels of collaboration and communication; standards-based instruction and assessment; frequent monitoring of teaching and learning; supportive learning environment; and high levels of parent involvement. Achieving this will define us as a school system of excellence.”
There are four schools within the union: Bahamas Academy in New Providence, The Bahamas; Grand Bahama Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas; Maranatha Academy in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands; and Cayman Academy in George Town, Grand Cayman.
Embracing the idea that the young people are the future of the Adventist church, the committee voted to support the IAD initiatives Pass It On and Mission Transform Evangelistic Campaigns, programs designed to encourage youth in becoming actively involved in church leadership and evangelism. Pastor Dannie Clarke, former union youth director, pointed out that these events will help to affirm our youth in the faith through training and the strengthening of their leadership skills.
Children and Adolescents
The IAD has declared 2018 as the Year of the Child and Adolescent. The major activity for this year will be an evangelistic initiative called “The Talking Backpack” which the committee voted to support as throughout the year children and youth participate in activities that teach Christian values and prepare children and adolescents to share the gospel.
Symposium of Praise
A highlight of the mid-year meetings is the symposium of praise where praise reports from the four fields and NCU are shared with the members. At this year’s symposium, five lay leaders were presented with gifts and certificates from the IAD for their outstanding work in lay evangelism: Johnny Taylor (ATCU); Racine Smith (Cayman Islands Conference); Marvin Green (North Bahamas Conference); David Knowles (South Bahamas Conference); and Yanique Henriquez (Turks and Caicos Islands Mission). Additionally, Elder Stanley Major received an award in absentia from the IAD for being the longest serving local elder in the English-speaking region of the IAD.
At the end of the mid-year meetings, committee members asked God to bless the decisions of the committee and left the meeting inspired to continue God’s business in this territory.
The executive committee is comprised of members from the four fields of ATCU (the Cayman Islands Conference; the North Bahamas Conference; the South Bahamas Conference; and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission) as well as representatives from Northern Caribbean University which is jointly owned by ATCU and the Jamaica Union.
The protection of children from dangers lurking on the Internet and ways in which adults and organizations can mitigate potential for abuse of children were key aspects of a special joint meeting of all Adventist churches on Saturday, 13 May, at Kings Church.
The meeting with local and international speakers from business and child services sectors was convened as part of the church’s observance of Child Month.
The main presenters at the meeting were Ms Daisy Montes de Oca, an account executive with responsibility for risk management from the world headquarters of the Adventist Church in Washington, DC, and Mr. Rudy Myles, Flow Caribbean Regional Fraud Manager based in the Cayman Islands. Ms Montes de Oca was invited to Cayman by the President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, Pastor Shian O’Connor.
Other speakers at the afternoon’s Child Month observance were Mrs. Felicia Robinson, Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and Mrs. Cereta McDonald, Director of the Adventist Conference’s Children & Adolescents’ Ministries, under whose umbrella a full slate of Child Month activities has been organized.
Commenting after the meeting, Ms Montes de Oca said, “This has been a very timely meeting,” and added: “The churches need to be involved in child safety, and I am impressed that the Cayman Islands Conference takes child safety and risk management seriously and is taking steps to ensure that the proper procedures are in place.”
Today, I share with you an interesting article by Pastor Barrington Brennen. I welcome your feedback. Additionally, I take this opportunity to request prayers on behalf of the new prime minister of the Bahamas and his team. I will send him an official letter of congratulations later today.
I am amazed how we are adopting so many Pentecostal and Charismatic phrases, terms, and practices. We must be careful. We hear other people do it and since is sounds good and Biblical we use it. "Prayer warrior," “I plead the blood," "Pray my strength in the Lord," "I claim it . . .," “I cover you” etc.
Here is one concept of "I plead the blood" phrase. (By the way, I refuse to use this phrase any where in my language, and I believe no Adventist pastor should. Pleading the Blood of Jesus is not biblical. No where in the Bible does Jesus tell you to plead His Blood over yourself. No where in the Bible does anyone plead the Blood of Jesus over themselves or others. Is this true?)
HERE'S WHAT I FOUND
Question: "Is pleading the blood of Jesus biblical?"
Answer: “Pleading the blood of Jesus” in prayer is a teaching common in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. When people speak of “pleading the blood of Jesus in prayer,” they are referring to the practice of claiming the power of Christ over any and every problem by using the phrase “I plead the blood of Jesus over _______.” People fill in the blank with whatever they want: “I plead the blood of Jesus over my family/job/thoughts/illness.” “Pleading the blood of Jesus” has no clear basis in Scripture. No one in the Bible ever “pleads the blood” of Christ. Those who “plead the blood” often do so as if there were something magical in those words or as if by using them their prayer is somehow more powerful. This teaching is born from a misguided view of prayer that prayer is a way of manipulating God to get what we want rather than praying for His will to be done. The whole Word of Faith movement, which teaches pleading the blood, is founded on the false teaching that faith is a force and that, if we pray with enough faith, God guarantees us health, wealth, and happiness. Those who teach the value of pleading the blood of Jesus usually point to the Passover as support of their practice. (It is quite common for Pentecostalism to base its doctrines on Old Testament examples.) Just as the blood of the Paschal lamb protected the Israelites from the angel of death and led to their deliverance from slavery, so the blood of Jesus can protect and deliver Christians today, if they apply, or “plead,” it. Those who plead the blood of Jesus often do so in the context of seeking victory over demons. Pleading the blood of Jesus is a way of taking up the authority of Christ over the spirit world and announcing to the forces of darkness that they are powerless. Some base this aspect of pleading the blood on Revelation 12:11: “They triumphed over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Again, there is no example in the Bible of anyone “pleading the blood,” so in that sense it is not expressly biblical. The phrase the blood of Christ in the New Testament is often used as a metonymy meaning “the death of Christ.” The blood/death of Christ forgives our sin, reconciles us with God, guarantees our inheritance in heaven, etc. Should a Christian be aware of all that the blood/death of Christ has accomplished for us? Absolutely. Should a believer be thankful for the blood/death of Christ? Of course, and expressing that thanks is good. Does a believer need to remind God of the blood/death of Christ every time he prays? Not according to the Bible. Do the words “I plead the blood of Jesus” give our prayers an extra kick? No, that’s more superstition than biblical prayer. Pleading the blood of Christ is not needed to defeat Satan. He has already been defeated, and, if we are born again, Satan has no power over us- other than what God allows for His purpose and glory. We have already been “delivered” (past tense) from the power of darkness and “translated” (past tense) into the kingdom of God’s Son (Colossians 1:13). No need to continually plead the blood. Rather than “pleading the blood” of Christ for protection or power, Christians should obey the command in James 4:7, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The Bible gives us numerous instructions in victorious living in Christ, and pleading the blood of Jesus is not one of them. We have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, and now He is our High Priest and mediator who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). As His sheep, we are already under His protection; we simply need to live day by day trusting in Him for what He has already promised and provided.
What do you think? I have been in the pastoral ministry for almost forty years and I’ve watched the adaptation of these Charismatic and Pentecostal practices that are not right. I am also concerned about asking people to stand for the scripture reading. I’ve heard some persons make a statement like this when introducing the scripture: “In respect of the Holy Scripture would you kindly stand for the scripture reading?” Unfortunately, this statement suggests that sitting is disrespectful when reading the scripture. Ironically, a few minutes later the congregation would be sitting while reading many scripture texts as requested by the speaker. By the way, this is not an official practice by the Adventist Church. These are findings that I have come across from my research.
Aall Foundation Contributes to Manna Centre
The Aall Foundation has contributed US$15,000 to support the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre, a community medical, social welfare and legal advisory agency expected to open later this year in the Savannah area. The agency will also administer a depot for storage and distribution of dry goods, clothing and medication.
“I have seen the Aall Foundation change and save lives on a global basis,” said Mrs. Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris law firm and a ten-year director of the foundation. Mrs. Harris said that the contribution is being made with the hope that the Manna Centre would “thrive and flourish.”
The Manna Centre will serve needs within its scope to anyone in the Cayman Islands requiring them. Though initiated by the Adventist Conference, it will be independently incorporated and administered as a non-denominational agency serving all residents regardless of religious affiliations.
The donation on behalf of the Aall Foundation was presented to Conference Treasurer John Wesley on Saturday (22 April).
Presenting the gift, Mrs. Harris said that she overcame her initial scepticism about the realism of a project of this scale as she is aware that the Adventist Church leaders are “themselves led by faith and not by sight.” So when she met with the foundation’s board of directors and explained the centre’s aims and objectives, the board moved “without hesitation” to contribute $15,000, Mrs. Harris said.
Expressing appreciation, Conference Executive Secretary Reinaldo Dracket described the cheque presentation as a “proud moment of recognition of the important work of the Manna Centre.” He said it was the second major donation to be made to the project by a Cayman Islands philanthropic organisation.
“We are delighted this afternoon that we are again witnessing the generosity of Cayman’s business and charitable organisations to the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre,” he said.
Giving a status report to the Conference-wide gathering of churches on Saturday, the Conference administrator remarked on the encouraging agreements that had been reached with cadre of doctors, nurses, pharmacist, other registered health practitioners, and legal and social welfare professionals, who have volunteered their services to the operations of the Manna Centre.
Indeed, Administrator Dracket said that the Manna Centre was modelled on the philosophy of the early Christian Church, as described in the biblical book of Acts, that “each man should give freely so that no one lacked anything.”
As such, the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre offered today’s Christians “an opportunity to demonstrate that [they] are disciples of Christ,” he said, in the same way that the Aall benefactors had risen to the challenge to be “true practitioners of the command to be our brother’s keepers.”
The Aall Foundation, which supports charities on a global scale, was established in the Cayman Islands in 1982 on behalf of Norwegian benefactors who had made fortunes in shipping.
Executive Secretary Dracket invited church members to become active participants, also, either through volunteering their services or contributing financially.
Mrs. Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris and a Director of the trustee for the Aall Foundation, presents a cheque to Conference Treasurer John Wesley. At left is Conference Executive Secretary Reinaldo Dracket.
Discipleship Convention Promotes Member Retention
The Adventist church body recently (April 8) met for an internal review of best practices at Kings Church as a way to strengthen retention of members at the conclusion of evangelistic campaigns. The meeting sought to pre-empt attrition rates that are being experienced by churches worldwide.
As a key strategy to strengthen retention, the Cayman Islands Conference announced at this meeting that it had appointed Elder Joshua Lawrence, who is also the Assistant Personal Ministries Director, as its first Retention Director.
While appointing Elder Lawrence to this new leadership role, however, President Shion O’Connor hastened to drive home the message that it was the responsibility of all members to ensure that they create and sustain an environment that is conducive to retention. Pastor O’Connor drew on the parable of the ninety-and-nine sheep which the shepherd left behind in the fold to pursue the one lost sheep.
“The Conference continues to be troubled by the number of persons walking the streets” who are not being reached by focused discipleship strategies, Pastor O’Connor said.
In his introductory remarks, Pastor Jeff Jefferson reminded members that retention or discipleship was complementary to evangelism, and that in the same way that evangelism was everyone’s business, so was retention.
Pastor Jefferson urged continuing emphasis on involving new members in the work of the church: “God has gifted new members with spiritual gifts and these should be brought to bear on the work of the church” as a matter of urgency, the Personal Ministries Director for the Conference said. “We need to step back and allow the new members to show their talents.”
In reviewing statistics gathered by the Adventist church’s headquarters in the US, it was particularly troubling, Pastor Jefferson said, that two-thirds of those who gave up the church were in the category of young adults. When you add to this group those who leave in middle age, then you get a concerning picture of declining interest among younger age groups.
In analysing the reasons that people leave, Pastor Jefferson said that the key issue for many was that they did not find church to be “a kind and loving place;” instead, many reported they often experienced breakdown in relationships in the church or failure in forming meaningful relationships.
Offering hope, however, was the fact that the majority of persons who had lost inspiration reported a willingness to return to church if they were approached properly. And that approach was grounded, he said, in members’ ability to communicate “that we care about them,” adding, “It is not programmes that keep people; it is people who keep people.”
Pastor Jefferson identified factors conducive to sustained membership such as strong relationship capacities among members, conflict management skills, visitation and support programmes, new member involvement, and an emphasis on Adventist education.
“The foundation years, rooted in Adventism,” were among some of the most influential in determining whether members are retained or not, Pastor Jefferson said. Another key factor was the building of strong relationships, especially with persons who appear to be avoiding relationships.
Part of the the Sabbath afternoon’s programme was a panel discussion among two separate groups – Personnel Ministries and Retention leaders on the one hand and new members on the other.
Among highlights of strategies now being practised, the Personnel Ministries leader at the Maranatha Church reported that all church members were divided into teams and that the teams operated on the basis that “Jesus brought me in, but love keeps me here.” The Bodden Town church has regular fellowship lunches, prayer groups and visitation teams who frequently check up on new members.
The West Bay church reported that they have an active singles’ ministry and that they had adopted the philosophy that it was their duty to love members “twice as much” as anyone might have expected. They also emphasised that “Christ-like” behaviour of members was critical. Once a month, the Filadelfia Church does a 5K walk that reaches out to the community to join them. The Creek Church’s Personal Ministries leader said that that church was working towards a cohesive atmosphere, adding that communicating a sense of “protection” was a strong connective force, and that he was “willing to be the hedge of protection” for other members.
Meanwhile, the new members, some of whom demonstrated their musical and other talents earlier in the programme, described a family atmosphere at one church, where hugs are regularly dispensed. Another reported generous dollops of fellowship, including opportunities to share problems and challenges in a quiet room where members sometimes cry together.
A selection of new members offered their perspective on qualities and actions that make church environments welcoming.
Elder Joshua Lawrence appealed for support of church members following the announcement of his appointment as the Conference's first Retention Director. Conference President Shion O’Connor is at left.
Pastor Jeff Jefferson encouraged the congregation to take the view that member retention is everyone’s business.
Born on the island of New Providence, Bahamas, Dawn Smith received her early education at Bahamas Academy of Seventh-day Adventists as well as Grand Bahama Academy. She pursued higher education at the College of the Bahamas (now University of the Bahamas), graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Banking and Finance. Along with her love for business, Ms. Smith enjoys traveling, culinary experiences, spending time with her family and she loves music. She will be serving in the treasury department as an accountant.
By ATCU Communication Department
As a part of celebrating the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists’ (IAD) Week of Prayer for Pastoral Families under the theme “In His Hand,” the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (ATCU) organized a special program on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 to bring together Seventh-day Adventist pastoral families on the island of New Providence for an evening of fellowship and prayer. The event was organized by the ministerial and family ministries departments of ATCU headed by Pastor Leonard Johnson and Pastor Peter Kerr respectively.
“We go through difficult times as pastoral families. We work hard, and many times people talk about us, and sometimes we may even talk about each other. But, we have come here to talk to each other,” said Johnson as he welcomed the pastoral families to the event.
The group participated in icebreakers where they shared anniversary dates, introduced their spouses and children, and viewed one of the special programs produced by the IAD which included special music, prayer for unions within IAD, and a charge. The charge was presented by Pastor Claudio and Dr. Pamela Consuegra, family ministries directors of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. They encouraged pastoral families to be intentional in caring for their marriage and their children as the hectic schedule of a pastor may cause him to neglect his wife and children.
“Your home itself provides an evangelistic opportunity more powerful than that sermon you may be working on,” admonished Dr. Consuegra as she explained that pastors must care for their spouses and children. She explained that after God, family should come next in their pyramid of priorities. Claudio and Pamela also encouraged pastoral families not to underestimate the power of family worship and prayer. She encouraged spouses to pray for each other out loud as this reaffirms to the spouse that he or she is loved and appreciated.
The evening concluded with testimonies from pastors’ children, spouses, and pastors themselves, talking about the joys and challenges of being a part of a pastoral family.
“As a pastor, I need a praying wife, and I have a praying wife who fears God. I thank God for the wisdom that she brings to our home,” said Pastor Terry Tanis as he testified about his wife, Samantha.
Pastor Peter Kerr thanked the families for coming. “Events like this need to happen more often,” said Kerr. “We need to keep in contact and call each other and pray for each other.”
The families exchanged contact information so that they could pray with each other or just call to converse.
The official Week of Prayer for Pastoral Families was celebrated from January 21 to 28, 2017, and the devotional videos for the week of prayer can be accessed from the IAD’s website banner at www.interamerica.org.
“I now realize how much I have been underestimating the mighty power of prayer”, remarked a member of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SBC) after attending a seminar presented by Jerry and Janet Page, Ministerial Directors of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The seminars were conducted at the Centreville Church in Nassau, The Bahamas on evenings of February 1 and 2 where Jerry and Janet shared how prayer has impacted their lives and ministries.
Jerry lamented on the fact that many within the church have been depending on their own power and abilities for so long when God is only waiting for us to ask Him for His power. “There are so many things that God wants to do through us but we need to as in faith”, said Jerry.
Janet shared several testimonies on what God has done in her personal and professional life as a result of prayer. “My children have found a love for serving the Lord because their mother found Jesus”, said Janet.
Jerry encouraged parents to never get tired of praying for their children as he testified about getting kicked out of school and ending up selling cocaine but the prayers of his parents made him miserable living that life. “Eventually I found Jesus,” said Jerry; “and it was because of the consistent prayers of my parents”.
Every session Jerry and Janet conducted ended with thirty minutes of prayer and praise. Members of the congregation freely participated in prayer sessions where anyone just shouted out praises, petitions, confessions, songs and scripture.
“I feel refreshed after these two evenings of prayer”, said one participant and in a shout of praise another said “I will never be the same after these sessions!”
Jerry and Janet also conducted a special seminar and prayer session for pastors, elders and Bible workers at the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) headquarters and will conduct similar sessions in all the fields within the ATCU.
By ATCU Communication Department
One of the most significant milestones in the development of any Seventh-day Adventist church is the ordination of individuals into pastoral ministry. The North Bahamas Conference (NBC), one of the fields of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (ATCU), celebrated the ordination of two of its ministers, Pastor Fritz Gerald François and Pastor Patrick Tyrill, during a ceremony held at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas on Sabbath, January 14, 2017.
Officiating and bringing the charge at this first-ever pastoral ordination service in the history of NBC was the president of ATCU, Pastor Leonard Johnson. Emphasizing the tremendous responsibility that comes with the call to pastoral ministry, Pastor Johnson presented a sermon entitled “Do Not Abuse the Privilege.”
“The power of the calling is in the person who is called,” said Johnson as he explained that it is the Holy Spirit that calls one to ministry. He expressed that the two major complaints from members reveal that they want pastors to preach the Word of God and to visit members’ homes.
“You want to be effective in ministry? Visit your members,” admonished Johnson. “Members want to know that you care.”
Pastor François has been working as a pastor in fields within ATCU for almost ten years; and during the ceremony, representatives of his congregations recognized him as a caring and dedicated pastor.
Pastor Tyrill was called from the Jamaica Union to pastor in The Bahamas and was commended for being passionate about ministry as well as for his dedication to the churches under his care.
The president of NBC, Pastor Henry R. Moncur, expressed excitement at being a part of this historic ceremony, stating that there would be more ordinations in NBC in the very near future.
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