NPUC Executive Committee Embraces Evangelistic Vision
Evangelism was a featured highlight of the recent North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee meeting held March 13, 2019, in Ridgefield, Wash.
Committee members witnessed stirring testimonies on a collaborative evangelistic effort conducted recently in Idaho Conference. The Cloverdale Church in Boise hosted NPUC evangelist Brian McMahon for a series of meetings that were also livestreamed to additional churches throughout the conference. Several churches had multiple baptisms and rebaptisms.
Michael Gee, Idaho Conference Bible study trainer, recounted how the Heyburn Church in eastern Idaho was impacted by these efforts. This small church, which had eight members attending on a good Sabbath, saw more than 20 guests attend the first night of the meetings. At the culmination of the meetings, the church found its membership doubled in size, with more interested people still studying. And the once-struggling congregation, while still very small, is now excited about the future.
These reports were the catalyst for a serious committee discussion of an appropriate way forward to raise mission and evangelism involvement throughout the Northwest. Bill McClendon, NPUC evangelism director, shared a plan and process called Vision 2020 that partners with Voice of Prophecy resources to provide a new cycle of church revitalization, community connections and evangelistic outreach.
McClendon pointed out a dramatic change is needed within Adventist churches to reverse years of declining growth, which dropped to half a percent in 2018. More than 200 of the churches within the NPUC — about 40 percent — had zero baptisms in 2018.
This is what the NPUC executive committee defines as an opportunity for change. Rather than simply acknowledging the problem and moving on, McClendon reminded the group this is a reason to prayerfully turn the tide. “Let’s not be driven by what we’ve done,” he said, “but rather by what we can do because of what God can do.”
Opportunity for Change
Given that only one-third of North American churches are showing any growth, committee members broke into smaller groups during a portion of the afternoon to discuss additional ideas on how to change the culture of local churches into outward-focused, mission-driven, evangelistically focused channels for the Lord.
Many churches will be joining the Vision 2020 plan this year, hoping for dynamic changes that center each member in the unique Adventist mission. More on the plan is described in the March/April Gleaner feature and online at npuc.org/vision2020.
Moving Beyond Debt
In financial reporting, Mark Remboldt, NPUC treasurer, introduced a blockbuster proposal that committee members approved wholeheartedly. Last year, $500,000 from NPUC reserves were allocated to pay down part of the loan used to purchase the NPUC building in 2007. This time, Remboldt demonstrated that NPUC resources were now sufficient to pay off the remainder of that loan — now just under $619,000. With the loan paid off, the NPUC days of cash available and working capital will temporarily fall below ideal recommended levels. Yet, with the debt eliminated — saving $15,000 in monthly payments — those benchmarks would be rapidly recovered, likely within two years. Beyond this important decision, committee members also reviewed and approved the final 2019 budget figures.
Alex Bryan and Joyce Newmyer, Adventist Health representatives, began the day’s agenda with worship thoughts showing how Jesus’ ministry is an example of the organization’s commitment to health, wholeness and hope.
Newmyer shared news of corporate growth and follow-up information on how some funds from the sale of Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH) may eventually be used. Recently, Walla Walla University formed and empowered the Center for Humanitarian Engagement (CHE). Led by David Lopez, who came to WWU with extensive experience from Maranatha International, this effort is seeking to practically demonstrate one of the core themes of the university: "Generosity in Service." John McVay, WWU president, says the CHE hopes to develop several important partnerships, including a vision to shape the Walla Walla community as a new “Blue Zone” known for health and wellness. Following significant closing costs from the WWGH sale, Adventist Health funds of approximately $6.5 million reserved to benefit the Walla Walla Valley remain. Although nothing has been finalized at this point, discussions are ongoing that may engage these funds as one of the partnerships with this WWU project, once a clearly viable plan is outlined.
A Final Wrapup
In other actions, the committee approved the ordination request of the Washington Conference for Victor Rodriguez, who is currently pastor of the Olympia Spanish Church and Chehalis Spanish Company. They filled out a survey that measured their evaluation of NPUC leadership in 10 critical areas of mission and strategy. And, as the association board, they accepted the financial report of the revolving fund.
John Freedman closed the day with a summary of union’s leadership development strategy to encourage fresh, young leaders for the Adventist mission. It is one of the top NPUC priorities that may help shape the vision of mission and ministry here in the Pacific Northwest for years to come. More details on that will be forthcoming in the months ahead.