by Paul Richardson, 27 October 2017       

The second day of the North American Division’s Year-end Meetings has continued with ongoing excitement for the grand opening of the Division’s new headquarters..

The first NAD president, Charles E Bradford and his wife Ethel, were interviewed at the morning meeting. In their inimitable style, they energized the assembled delegation with their wit and wisdom.
 
“Be a Division,” was Brad’s opening pronouncement of the morning. As he went on to exhort the group with his direct words, it was almost as if he was also offering a pep talk, as if to say, “You have left home, you are now on your own, now go ahead and embrace that reality with confidence.”

“Never forget the little church. They gave you this building. They pay your salary. You are here to resource them and the conferences and unions in your care.”

Then as if he had perceived an over-inflated euphoria among the group with the beauty of the building and the independence from the General Conference 12 miles down the road, Brad went on to say, “Never forget the little church. They gave you this building. They pay your salary. You are here to resource them and the conferences and unions in your care.”

 
And then he concluded his remarks with these observations….
 
  • Believe in your place in the house of God. Read Ephesians and discover in a fresh way God’s vision for the church, that we are brought out of darkness into God’s wonderful light
  • You are going through a troubling times with the brethren, and it’s time to stand with the brave and not shrink back from threatening showdowns; be ready
  • But don’t become angry with them, because if you do, you will be controlled by them
His remarks were appreciated for his signature candor, from a leader in his 90s who will be celebrating 70 years married to his wife in 2018.

Tom Evans, NAD Treasurer was quick to point out the headquarters building is paid for, and the NAD still provides 60% of the money (tithe, offerings, and international entities that openly fundraise here) that supports the world church from only 7% of the world-wide membership.

Paul Brantley, NAD VP for Assessment and Strategic Planning, led us through an exercise with his team on identifying a shared vision for the Division. How can greater collaboration be enhanced between Unions, Conferences, Congregations, classrooms, healthcare and more. It was an active learning process with more time on visioning promised for our time next week.
 
Dan Jackson, NAD President, announced that the book Steps to Christ turns 125 years old this year and that he would like for the group to consider making it available to share with work colleagues, neighbors, and friends. He was careful to not follow the General Conference initiative to print Great Controversy by the millions and mail them to zip codes funded by ASI members or to push unions, conferences and congregation to purchase and distribute the books to resistant recipients. We will see what the decision is in the days to come.
 
The church has paid staggering amounts of insurance claims for accidents and lawsuits in recent years. Tim Northrup, president of Adventist Risk Management indicated that multi-million dollar lawsuits have results because $500 repairs have not been done on Adventist-owned vehicles or equipment. The stats on Adventist incidents of liver and lung cancer is lower among Adventist than the general population, but outside of the blue zones, the incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers is just as high among Adventists as it is for all North Americans, and our healthcare costs are staggering. If these trends continue, Adventist Risk Management will be seriously challenged in its ability to provide affordable insurance premiums to institutions and employees in the future.
 
The NAD Ministerial team said that 50 female pastors have been hired since NAD named in 2015 its goal of insentavising conferences to hire 200 new female pastors by 2020. At the current pace, conferences are going to have to reinvigorate their pace to reach the goal by convincing more churches to accept women as their spiritual leaders.
 
Our day ended with an engaging conversation with NAD Children’s through Youth Ministries leaders. They built a solid case that more needs to be done to engage pre-school through youth in Sabbath School, and they seem to be leading to a recommendation that NAD be responsible for creating Sabbath School curriculum for this Division. One wonders (if voted) if this will be another area in which NAD will be out of compliance with the General Conference who wants to have the entire world-wide membership using the same Sabbath School curriculum!
 
What was encouraging in this discussion was how engaged the Adventist college student leaders and public university representatives were in asking questions and offering solutions! They referenced resources already available on www.adventistlearningcommunity.com and mentioned that the online chatter among their peers was strongest on this topic so far. How refreshing!
 
The new NAD headquarters is full of natural light with its glass exterior and large atrium. Its staff are describing the atmosphere here as transparent and trusting. It’s easy to feel a much different spirit at this meeting than General Conference Autumn Council just weeks ago right down the road.

Paul Richardson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Adventist Today Foundation.

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