NPUC Executive Committee Focuses on Growing Young
The Growing Young movement, which trains Northwest church congregations to more effectively embody multigenerational ministry, received priority time during the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee meeting, May 8, 2019, in College Place, Wash. Gathering in Heubach Chapel on the campus of Walla Walla University, committee members heard expansive reports from Rob Lang, NPUC youth and young adult director; Ben Lundquist, Oregon Conference director of young adult ministry; and Dustin Serns, pastor of the Port Orchard Church in Wash.
Lang and Lundquist highlighted a bold vision to grow the total of NPUC-area churches in the Growing Young cohort program to more than 100 by next year, or nearly 25 percent of all Northwest Adventist churches. Outside the NPUC, other union conferences are taking note of the progress made and lessons learned. Lundquist says next year could also bring the addition of another 50 Adventist congregations throughout the North American Division and beyond.
It has been a learning process, but one that has flourished under Lundquist’s energetic and passionate leadership. It is a collaborative effort of local Northwest conferences, one that the Oregon Conference has singularly aided by allowing Lundquist to go beyond his local conference role to also spearhead the Growing Young effort throughout the NPUC.
And, while an effort to reach Northwest communities through gospel evangelism is central to the NPUC purpose, positively engaging youth and young people with the mission of a local congregation is closest to the heart of many current members.
“Our people believe in reaching our communities with the gospel,” says Dan Linrud, Oregon Conference president, “but what they want most of all is for their young people to be embraced and empowered by a local congregation. Our Gospel Commission must start at home, and it must include our youth.”
That takes intentional choices in every local congregation. “I urge each of our experienced church members to really listen to the heartbeat of their youth,” says Lundquist. “Collaborate together on how your church can stay on the growing edge of the Gospel Commission.”
Dustin Serns shared the dynamic journey his church has been on since deciding to engage more actively with young people. His church that was struggling to survive now has more than 30 young adults attending and involved each Sabbath. Eight of them are now serving on the church board, representing the growing influence and importance of multigenerational engagement in church life and mission.
Appropriately, in the context of these reports, the NPUC executive committee included for the first time young adult representatives from the Idaho and Montana conferences. Samantha Schnell from Caldwell, Idaho, is already helping her local conference with social media communication. Lindsey Schumacher is a freshman Walla Walla University student from Bozeman, Mont.
In other important business, the committee affirmed a request from the Montana Conference board of directors regarding the church’s stance on abortion. The NPUC will ask the North American Division executive committee to encourage the General Conference to form a subcommittee to study the issues surrounding abortion and, in light of any findings, reconsider the current guidelines, which were adopted at the October 1992 Annual Council. The Biblical Research Institute has already been working on additional information that may aid in any further sharpening of focus on the issues surrounding abortion and personal freedom of choice. The church has traditionally been careful to encourage individual conscience as applied to these concerns, but some members believe the sanctity of life must be more overtly supported in the church’s position. Any further action by the world church in response will likely take significant study and time.
The committee approved the Oregon Conference request to ordain Samuel Moreno, pastor of the Remix congregation in the Portland, Ore., area. Moreno has pastored five churches during eight years of field service.
The next executive committee meeting is scheduled for Aug. 21 in Ridgefield, Wash.