God Still ACTS: 2019 Washington Conference Constituency Session

April 29, 2019 | Church | Steve Vistaunet

Prayer provided the spiritual bookends to the 60th Constituency Session of the Washington Conference. Delegates came from across the conference to participate in the session, held April 28, 2019, at the Auburn Adventist Academy Church in Auburn, Wash.

In his opening devotional, John Freedman, North Pacific Union Conference president, called on delegates to make it a session of prayer. “You can’t do church business unless you worship first,” he said. “We need wisdom that comes from the throne of God.”

And so they did, in music and in prayer circles around the meeting sanctuary — 300 people in small groups, entreating the Holy Spirit to be present. It was, in fact, an invocation of the very theme of the session, "God Still ACTS," even in the midst of a constituency business session.

Welcome to New Churches

As the delegates were officially seated by Craig Carr, vice president for administration, four congregations received official affirmation as new churches: Ethiopian Church in Seattle, Kenmore Spanish Church, Kent Spanish Church and Maple Valley Church. For the first time, these churches had representative delegates at the constituency session.

Reelections

What is typically the main order of business — the nominating committee report — took place early in the day. All officers, administrators and departmental directors were returned to office with a clear mandate by delegates to keep progress going forward. Each of the four administrators — Doug Bing, president; Craig Carr, vice president for administration; Jerry Russell, vice president for finance; and Craig Mattson, vice president for education — was reelected by more than 90 percent of the votes. The full list of elected positions is included at the end of this article, along with the new executive committee and board of education.

President's Report

In his report, Bing reflected on the central role of the Holy Spirit in conference mission. He recalled the aged prophet Elisha’s admonition to be persistent in defeating the enemies of God’s people. “What battles are being fought outside the windows of our homes, our schools and churches that are ravaging the people of our communities?” Bing asked. “Total member involvement means each of us allowing the Holy Spirit to help us look out beyond our own windows, to make us a positive influence in our neighborhoods until Jesus comes.”

He highlighted several examples of churches reaching their communities through creative gospel work — Green Lake Church using poetry to connect with a unique audience, Auburn City Church hosting birthday parties for underprivileged neighborhood children, Tacoma developing a halfway house to assist those in transition back to normal community life, Port Orchard and Everett churches hosting free medical clinics, Puyallup Church beginning a deaf ministry … and the list goes on. They are part of the conference encouragement to join the world church emphasis on Total Member Involvement. Each church is discovering how members can use their gifts to reach the unique mix of people in their neighborhoods. “We don’t have to travel far to reach the mission field,” Bing said. “The mission field has come to us.”

Finance Report

Jerry Russell could have spent a lot of time detailing financial statements, but instead, he too was reflective with specific examples of how God has answered prayers during the past quinquennium. Improved employee health has resulted in $600,000 in health care expense savings. In 2017, the tithe gain surpassed 5 percent. It nearly doubled that in 2018, with a 9.43 percent gain. 

An ongoing prayer for conference finances now includes rebuilding financial reserves depleted during the recession years following 2007. From a low of 23 percent, that reserve has been built back up to nearly 50 percent, but the ultimate goal is 100 percent of working capital.

Russell thanked members for their generosity in funding evangelistic efforts that 1) brought in nearly 2,900 new church family members; 2) supported Sunset Lake evangelism to more than 3,500 campers — 1,062 of whom accepted Jesus for the first time; and 3) Adventist education, with 102 teachers serving 1,284 students in 20 schools.

Projects

A couple projects highlighted the need for renewing facilities and infrastructure for conference schools and other programs. Jay Coon, Auburn Adventist Academy vice principal for growth and development, noted the $1 million goal of Restore Auburn, of which $200,000 has been raised. This fund will eventually help to upgrade sewer lines and other areas of the campus that are beginning to show their age.

[THIS PARAGRAPH PROVIDES INFORMATION REVISED FROM THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE] The other highlighted project, approved in concept by a vote of the delegates, will replace the current Hillside cabins at Sunset Lake Camp with new units once funds have been raised. David Yeagley, camp director, says the total project is currently pegged at just under $2 million, including a 15 percent contingency. Yeagley says increased attendance and price adjustments from summer camp activities have fostered an increasingly healthy financial bottom line, and there is still room to enhance capacity and ministry opportunities. The Church Partnership program highlighted at the session will establish local camp ambassadors and help every child in participating congregations to attend a week of summer camp. The camp currently partners with Angel Tree to provide a unique experience for children who have an incarcerated parent, and leaders are also exploring possibilities to reach other marginalized youth in the greater Puget Sound area, as well as immigrant children.

Honest Discussion

Delegates showed a remarkable resiliency throughout the day. When given the choice of “forging ahead” or pausing for a boxed lunch break, they resolutely kept plowing through the agenda. They were honest and forthright while asking good questions, giving helpful feedback and sharing authentic concerns. Several delegates expressed their wish that the conference would be more proactive in seeking diversity in its leadership to better reflect the growing diversity of both membership and the western Washington population. Bing affirmed this goal and reassured delegates that efforts were being made to mentor and encourage young, multicultural pastors toward future leadership.

One by one, the presentations underscored the day’s theme — and, more importantly, the theme of the past five years — "God Still ACTS." ACTS, many conference members know, is an acronym that illustrates the four core ACTS of conference ministry:

  • Adventist Christian education
  • Coaching leaders
  • Total member involvement
  • Spiritual growth

The conference vision, affirmed by delegate decisions on Sunday, is to create an environment that encourages the reflection of Christ in every member and ministering together to reach our communities with the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ and His soon return.

That’s a vision every Northwest member can pray for, in support of their brothers and sisters in Washington Conference.

For a review of the Washington Conference ministry report issued for the constituency session, go online to https://www.washingtonconference.org/constituency.

Elected Conference Positions

  • Doug Bing, president
  • Craig Carr, vice president for administration
  • Jerry Russell, vice president for finance
  • Craig Mattson, vice president for education
  • Michelle Wachter, associate superintendent for education
  • Eric Davis, associate treasurer
  • Pam Scott, associate treasurer
  • Matthew Gilkey, trust services director
  • Rita Gruesbeck, trust services associate director
  • Jose Jerez, trust services associate director
  • Ken Aiolupotea, human resources director
  • Colette Newer, community services director
  • Heidi Baumgartner, communication director
  • Tyler Long, evangelism, church planting & personal ministries director
  • Bill Roberts, ministerial director
  • David Yeagley, Sunset Lake & young adult director
  • David Salazar, youth, Adventurer & Pathfinder director

Executive Committee Members

  • Doug Bing, conference president
  • Craig Carr, conference vice president for administration
  • Jerry Russell, conference vice president for finance
  • John Freedman, North Pacific Union Conference president
  • Craig Mattson, conference vice president for education
  • Carlos Rodriguez, North Cascade Spanish Church lay member
  • Kami Borg, Forest Park Church lay member
  • EuGene Lewis, conference regional coordinator
  • Rolando Fulgencio, Southcenter Church lay member
  • Vitali Oliinik, conference Russian coordinator
  • LeAnn Knipple, Kirkland Church lay member
  • Shirley Palar, Auburn City lay member
  • Wagner Cilio, conference Hispanic coordinator
  • Greg Gratias, Auburn Academy Church lay member
  • Tiffany Odiyar, Enumclaw Church lay member
  • Kelli Robinson, Mt. Tahoma Church lay member
  • Scott Tyman, Tacoma Central Church pastor
  • Dustin Serns, Port Orchard Church pastor
  • Kathy Morgan, Bremerton Church lay member
  • Ira Bartolome, Centralia Church pastor
  • Loren Cooper, Chehalis Church lay member
  • Priciliano Villegas, Olympia Spanish Church lay member

bold = ex officio

Board of Education

  • Doug Bing, conference president
  • Craig Mattson, conference vice president for education
  • Jerry Russell, conference vice president for finance
  • Craig Carr, conference vice president for administration
  • Michelle Wachter, conference associate superintendant
  • Dennis Plubell, North Pacific Union Conference vice president for education
  • Jaimie Kraus, North Cascade
  • Atuanya DuBreuil, Breath of Life
  • Jonathan Clark, Southcenter
  • Bryan Clay, Kirkland
  • Gloria Henry, Renton
  • Jeff Keating, North Hill
  • Ron Jacaban, Kirkland
  • Denise Henry, Enumclaw
  • Stephan Dulan, Kent
  • Lynda Kim, Auburn City
  • Allie Tyman, Tacoma Central
  • Paula Dietirch, Port Orchard
  • Wayne Wentland, Sequim
  • John Mutchler, Chehalis
  • Matthew Enders, Lacey
  • Cecilia Espinoza, Olympia Spanish

bold = ex officio