• The Adventist Church in South America experienced a net increase of 1.76% between January and April 2020 compared to the same period last year.
  • By the end of April, the South American Division closed its books with 2,487,669 members.

From ANN – 11 June 2020 | Despite the restrictions imposed by quarantines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, membership in the South American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church grew by 1.76 percent in the first four months of 2020. The division supports church activities in eight nations on the South American continent.

By the end of April, the South American Division closed its books with 2,487,669 members. The 1.76 percent increase over 2019 reflects “real growth,” defined as the difference between the number of baptisms, rebaptisms, and professions of faith and the number of those leaving membership, called apostasy.

Reaction to the pandemic

The reporting period covers part of the time when the global COVID-19 pandemic was announced. Since mid-March, every South American nation has instituted restrictions on public gatherings, as well as social distancing. These restrictions directly impacted the more-than-28,000 churches in the South American Division.

Despite the social and economic difficulties, the division remained focused on its mission of preaching the gospel, especially with a view to resuming face-to-face services. The document called A Voice of Hope was launched to emphasize actions in worship, relationship, and mission. In the area of worship, the emphasis is on promoting the study of the Bible’s prophetic books such as Daniel and Revelation, and encouraging personal devotion and reading the Adventist book The Great Controversy.

Relationships were strengthened by efforts to provide emotional and spiritual counseling to vulnerable individuals, as well as to collect and distribute food parcels accompanied by copies of The Greatest Hope, the division’s 2020 outreach book. Members were also trained for mission in the areas of giving Bible studies to friends and emphasizing Bible classes.

Preparing to Reopen

As the nations of South America prepare to reopen in-person gatherings, the Adventist Church is mindful of three key concepts: visitation, worship, and mobilization.

“At this moment when isolation begins to be relaxed, before waiting for people to come to the Church, we want to take care of them and pray for them personally,” said Pastor Erton Köhler, president of the Adventist Church for eight South American countries.

“For this reason, we are preparing to have a great movement of visitors together with the opening of the temples. We want to leave the virtual setting for a physical, real, face-to-face meeting, taking the necessary steps to promote proper health practices. We want to take care of people and their needs at home first, then receive them [at church].”

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site

Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news agency of the Adventist Church.

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