What a convention! Imagine! Really prioritizing pastors. South American Division (SAD) leaders recently conducted a week-long consultation and training process for ministerial secretaries, shepherdess coordinators, and administrators from each of their ; unions and conferences.
This historic session, which dealt with specific pastoral issues, was coordinated by Alejandro Bullon, i SAD ministerial secretary; Jose Viana, associate ministerial secretary; and Vasti Viana, AFAM (Shepherdess | International in SAD) coordinator.
In order to focus right on target, practicing pastors, evangelists, and ministerial-training theologians were ! invited. They provided real-life interaction between administrators, pastoral practitioners, teachers who prepare pastors for ministry, and ministerial secretaries who nurture pastors and their families and coordinate ongoing professional growth.
Division president Ruy Nagel and his wife, Evelyn, hosted the event and demonstrated their personal commitment to prioritizing pastoral issues by attending all the plenary sessions and personally leading several discussion groups.
While specific training focused on the role of ministerial secretaries, the objective remained constant— how to best train, recruit, encourage, • and care for pastoral families.
General topics included: pastoral spouses, homes, and families; field-based continuing education; ministerial internship and supervision; working relationships between ministerial secretaries and administrators; church discipline; theological school curriculums; interaction with clergy of other denominations; training of laity elders; resources for pastors; and job expectations for ministerial secretaries.
Emphasis was on practical application. Following each plenary presentation, working groups were assigned specific issues which grew out of the topic, and these groups were expected to return with specific recommendations for implementation, such as action recommendations on evangelism and assimilating new members. Another topic on church discipline produced concrete recommendations for processes which involve congregations, pastors, and conference leadership.
Theology professors interacted with administrators and pastoral leaders to better integrate practics into the ministerial training program and to develop innovative ways to mentor young pastors with an intentional, rather than accidental, internship process.
Outstanding resources that SAD has produced for pastors to train local church elders will bless the entire world church as the developers share their insights through our own resource center. Bimonthly issues of Ministry, along with quarterly productions of Elder's Digest and Shepherdess Journal, unify the major language and national groups of the division.
The division president encouraged pastoral spouses with accolades, unique gifts, and acknowledgment of their important role for the church and their homes. Conference and union Shepherdess coordinators (AFAM) discussed with Vasti Viana, Margarida Sarli, Evelyn Nagel, and Sharon Cress a variety of opportunities and challenges for ministry families. Sara (Mrs. Alejandro) Bullon presented a seminar on sexuality and the pastor's family.
Aggressive and creative evangelistic plans for the future created an exciting atmosphere as the various conferences and unions reported on God's leading in the past and their objectives for coming months. Specific times allotted for recreation, fellowship at meals, and a special concluding banquet created increasing appreciation for the contributions that various individuals bring to ministry.
Why am I taking the space and time to report this event to the world church? First, because it is encouraging evidence of church leaders placing priority on pastoral ministry. Second, because this is an excellent example for others to follow.
One of the senior union presidents remarked that he had never attended such a remarkable event in his entire ministry. He, along with other conference and union leaders, pledged themselves to more effective ministry with their pastoral colleagues.
Our church will grow and enhance its mission only to the extent that we work together to prioritize pastors.