Independent Adventist Church-planting Missions Discuss Possible Merger
by Adventist Today News Team
Two independent ministries that specialize in planting new congregations participated in a meeting April 22 to "pray and talk about possibly working together," Pastor Ron Gladden, directional leader of Mission Catalyst, has told supporters in a letter. His organization has been planting Adventist churches independent of denominational control since the fall of 2004 and recently he discovered that Seventh Day International (SDI) has begun to do the same kind of work.
Mission Catalyst (MC) has worked primarily with new congregations in the English language that reach out to the majority culture in America, while SDI has planted Spanish-speaking congregations in immigrant communities. "Might God be honored if MC and SDI merged? Both parties are leaning in that direction," Gladden wrote in a letter clearly designed to test the reaction of donors.
Neither organization has any differences with Adventist doctrines. They agree that "the churches we plant are not officially affiliated with any denomination … the local church is God's Plan A to reach people … the primary customer is the person who will not go to heaven unless something changes before the end of his life [and] those who pay the bills, who are already convinced, and who already attend are the secondary customers."
Gladden stated that they also agree that congregations "must be self-determining when it comes to the things that cause health and growth" such as "staffing, money and governance," and "any conference or network exists only resource and assist the local church in reaching its maximum redemptive potential." But, "those who are persuaded of our theological perspective are not spiritually superior to those who attend any other Christian church."
Pastor Richard Garcia, president of SDI, and Gladden both also agree that "leaders don't wait for permission to obey God's prompting." Although he is clearly a mainstream Adventist in his beliefs and preaching, Gladden left denominational employment when the two union conferences he had been managing church planting projects for over several years decided that he was too innovative and fired him.
"In just a few months" SDI has planted "six churches in four states," Gladden wrote. "They hope to start churches in every ethnic and language group." Mission Catalyst is mostly centered in the West and SDI is in the South and Eastern part of the United States.