From an IAD Release, May 6, 2015:   Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the Inter-American Division (IAD) told approximately 1,500 non-ordained pastors who oversee congregations in Central America and the Caribbean to continue their ministry efforts. The message was given during a two-hour special program streamed live over the Internet from the IAD headquarters in Miami, Florida, reported the Adventist Review.

The IAD includes countries from Mexico down to Colombia and across to French Guiana. Islands such as Jamaica, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Haiti are also in the IAD. The Seventh-day Adventist church in the region has over 3.6 million members in 12,326 congregations, according to the denomination’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. In the IAD there are some 1,900 ordained pastors in addition to those who are not ordained.

“As pastors, we have this blessed opportunity to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord by preparing a people,” division president Israel Leito said. “You must prepare people to stay on God’s path and work to keep them there.”

Church leaders reminded the non-ordained pastors that their work is critical to expanding the mission of the church and that they do not need to be ordained to share Jesus. However, Leito also stressed that not all current pastors are called to be pastors, and a decision should be made on ordination in the seventh year of service.

“We want you to continue your commitment in shepherding congregations and work toward getting ordained for greater effectiveness in the ministry,” said Hector Sanchez, ministerial secretary for the division.

Ordination allows ministers to perform weddings, baptisms, and organize and dissolve churches. Sanchez said these activities are significant in advancing the gospel in a division where about 180,000 people are being baptized every year. But, he said, in order to be ordained, “there must be clear evidence of his calling and commitment to God and the church.”

The division’s policy calls for four to six years of service before ordination. The process includes seminary training and working for two years under a pastor who serves as a mentor. If pastors demonstrate a commitment to their calling during that period, they are assigned to one or two congregations and receives oversight from church leaders responsible for the area for two to four years. After completing these years of ministry, they may be recommended for ordination.

Because there are a limited number of experienced pastors available to mentor younger pastors, some of the newer pastors may be overlooked for ordination. Additionally, division leadership does not know how many years the 1,500 non-ordained ministers have been serving.