ACS Convention Finds Its Center in Jesus

September 13, 2016

“Community service brings us together because of one key ingredient — Jesus. He must be at the center of everything thing we do.”

Those words from Dan Jackson, North American Division president, echoed a common theme at this year’s Adventist Community Services (ACS) Convention, held in Gladstone, Ore., Sept. 7–10.

More than 200 community outreach leaders from throughout the nation and beyond gathered for the event hosted by the North American Division ACS and co-sponsored by the North Pacific Union Conference. They enjoyed inspirational messages interwoven with training workshops and informational tours.

Sung Kwon, Adventist Community Services executive director, provided the initial keynote message on the first evening of the convention. Other presenters throughout the event included Bill Knott, Adventist Review editor; Zack Plantak, Loma Linda (Calif.) University professor of religion and ethics; and May-Ellen and Gaspar Colon, co-authors of the third quarter Sabbath School lessons.

Jackson continued his Christ-centered theme throughout his Friday evening keynote and during the Sabbath morning sermon. “Peaceful co-existence within the body of Christ is not our calling,” he noted. “Fellowship that is just social interaction with one another is not enough. Only when we embrace our calling to a common mission of service with the mind and spirit of Jesus will we grow into what He intended for His church.”

Those who came attended for various reasons. Heidi Baumgartner, Washington Conference communication director, felt the session would help enhance her ability to actively provide support for outreach efforts within her conference. Paul Cole, Portland (Ore.) Adventist Community Services (PACS) director, found additional ideas for creative endeavors from other participants. He also helped coordinate eight separate tour groups of the PACS facilities during two days of the convention.

Dedication to the active ministry of outreach in Jesus’ name is a common characteristic of Adventist Community Services personnel throughout North America. Those who have returned to their local posts of responsibility from this convention have received a very important reminder: We all serve our communities best when we follow Jesus first.