18 January 2023 |
The North American Division (NAD) held their annual Adventist Ministries Convention on January 8–11, 2023, in Greensboro, North Carolina, with the theme of “Replenish.” The aim was to emphasize rest and renewal for Adventist church leaders who have been increasingly dealing with exhaustion and burnout as they navigate post-pandemic changes.
The conference overview acknowledged that “January of 2023 will mark three intense years of leading the churches in each of your conferences with new ways of doing ministry….We know that weariness can set in, so we look to Christ for an example.” Leaders were encouraged to “come away for a few days and allow yourself to be replenished.” Adding, “It is our desire that following the convention you will continue this valuable practice and schedule “come away” time in your ministry life.”
According to NAD News, each general session featured two keynote addresses; two song service blocks with the praise team from the Crosswalk Seventh-day Adventist Church in Redlands, California; a short historical session with Michael W. Campbell, director of NAD Archives, Statistics, and Research; and Matthew J. Lucio, pastor of the Peoria Seventh-day Adventist Church in Illinois and host of the Advent History podcast; along with a presentation of ministry awards; and prayer time.
Additional features included a “Replenish” juice bar, ministry exhibit & booths, seminar tracks and resources, and morning hiking sessions for both early and late risers.
“When we’re tired, something about us changes,” preached Lola Moore Johnston, senior pastor of the Restoration Praise Center in Maryland. “This depletion takes us to a place of finally giving ourselves the truth about who we are and what we believe. This type of fatigue, which we do not know how to remedy on our own, can be used by God…I think that God allows [us to be in] this state so that our off-camera selves might be exposed and healed.”
Speakers addressed topics including the discouragement, burnout, and crises that affect ministry leaders, and how leaders need to take time to replenish spiritually, physically, and emotionally. They pointed out that it differs for different people. For some, solitude is needed — time to study the Word, pray, and reflect and renew their faith and commitment. For others, it is time with family and friends. For still others, it is enjoying music, or engaging in humor and laughter.
Wendy Eberhardt, vice president of ministries for the NAD, coordinated the convention. She felt convicted that this is what the leaders needed. She shared, “We have had to stretch ourselves tremendously during this pandemic to continue to do ministry. Our leaders had to learn how to get beyond the masks and separation and isolation, and I felt the Lord telling me that we needed to ‘come away’ — to replenish through meeting and talking to other ministry leaders, have some time for silence and solitude, and just replenish.”