General Conference Ministerial Association welcomes new director and associate

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

The General Conference Ministerial Association bade a fond farewell to Jerry and Janet Page, Ministerial secretary and associate Ministerial secretary, respectively, in June 2022.

Their 12 years of service at the church’s General Conference were marked by a passion for revival and reformation as well as united (group) prayer. As they retired, church ministerial leaders and administrators around the world expressed profound gratitude through word and writing, both in person and online. At the church’s sixty-first General Conference Session, held in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, the torch of leadership was passed to Ramon and Aurora Canals.

Ramon Canals was elected Ministerial secretary with an emphasis on Total Member Involvement (TMI), an initiative aimed at getting people involved with the community in Christian service and witnessing. Born in the Dominican Republic, Canals grew up in New York, USA. He holds a bachelor of theology degree from Central American Adventist University in Alajuela, Costa Rica, and master of arts and doctor of ministry degrees from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA.

Canals served for years in many capacities, such as a local church pastor, associate ministerial director, and Hispanic ministries coordinator, and full-time evangelist. Canals comes to this position after serving as director of the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Aurora Canals was elected associate Ministerial secretary with an emphasis on pastoral spouses and families. Born in Colombia, Canals grew up in New Jersey, USA. Before acquiring a degree in business administration, she worked with her husband as an assistant evangelist in the Oregon Conference, USA, and helped prepare candidates for baptism. As a ministerial and Hispanic coordinator’s spouse, Canals organized convocations for training church members to fulfill the gospel mission.

With a comprehensive background in accounting and payroll management, Canals highlights to pastoral families the absolute necessity for wise financial and retirement planning. She comes to this position after serving as associate treasurer of the Chesapeake Conference in Maryland, USA.

The Ministerial Association expressed delight at the arrival of such gifted servant leaders. The Ministerial team will be introduced in full in a future issue. [Jeffrey O. Brown, Ministry and Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Saving Ten Thousand Toes

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

On June 5, eight weary but inspired bicyclists (five pastors, two church employees, and a local church elder) arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, completing a 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) self-funded trip from Washington, DC, in celebration of the work of Australian pioneer missionary Philip Reekie. Reekie, in the late nineteenth century, traveled by bicycle to share Christian literature with seeker such as Tom Kent and others in remote locations. More than 20,000 believers have now been won to Christ as a result of this encounter, including Anthony Kent (associate ministerial director of the world church) and Rob Hansforth (an accountant and church elder in Queensland, Australia) both great, great grandsons of Tom Kent.

From the very beginning, the commemorative ride was planned as a way of witnessing to others, as well as a fitness initiative.

Australian Union Conference secretary Michael Worker said, “People would wave, would welcome us, and sharing our story opened the door to witnessing. And as we shared and interacted with other Christians, it happened many times that they wanted to pray for us. We came to give, but we received,” Worker said.

“I have found that there are so many people out there who need something, who appreciate not only the books that we give them but the interaction,” said Torben Bergland, General Conference health ministries associate director and one of the participants.

In addition to distributing copies of The Great Controversy and Your Bible and You along the route, the cycling missionaries also raised awareness for a very special cause in the South Pacific Division (SPD). The profound need led to the creation of a crucial campaign known as Ten Thousand Toes. The cyclists wore special gloves and socks on their journey to raise awareness for the campaign, marked with a logo that features a foot with a missing toe—a sobering reminder of the toll of poor lifestyle choices.

“Every twenty minutes in the South Pacific, someone gets a limb removed,” cyclist and SPD president Glenn Townend stated. “We want every village and every town throughout the South Pacific to have an Adventist presence and kit to help people test for type 2 diabetes—and our dream is becoming a reality.”

Southeast Asia Union Mission publishing and health director Pham Nguyen To Phuong, from Vietnam, was the only female participant in the ride. She took up cycling five years ago and never looked back. “I used to pray, ‘Please, Lord, use my passion for your glory,’ To Phuong shared. “Through this trip, God answered my prayer.”

South Pacific Division senior ministry systems specialist Russ Willcocks added that, though the majority of people they met were not necessarily church attenders, he felt God was ahead of the riders, preparing the way and the hearts of people to interact with them. “It often happened that when we arrived to meet with people, we discovered that Jesus had arrived first,” he said. “They were ready and open to receive us.” [Shawn Boonstra and Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review and Anthony Kent]

In Uruguay, more than 60 Adventist women trained as leaders

Blancarena, Uruguay

A two-day event in late April 2022 in Blancarena, Uruguay, offered training to more than 60 Seventh-day Adventist women who already have leadership roles in their local congregations.

South American Division (SAD) of Seventh-day Adventists president Stanley Arco opened the event and said its goal was to train and prepare women to support their congregations as active members and leaders by promoting women’s evangelism, training other women, and conducting visitation, among other activities.

The training focused on four areas: Sabbath School and small groups, Bible studies, new generations, and seniors.

In Uruguay, 65 percent of church members are women. “Women’s leadership in the church is essential,” Arco said. “We appreciate this move and encourage Uruguay to keep supporting the formation of leaders in all areas.”

At the end of the event, Dagmar Wiebusch, Women’s Ministries director of the Uruguay Union of Churches Mission, commented that leaders feel they reached their stated goals. “The event does not end here because leadership demands an ongoing learning process, and, with the Spirit of God, I believe that we will achieve what God wants.”

Jorge Wiebusch, president of the Uruguay Union of Churches Mission, said, “We are happy to have a more prepared, more committed leadership, and we hope it will become a multiplier and a watershed in the history of the Adventist Church in Uruguay.”

Arco said, “I am happy and grateful to God for the work being done. As leaders, we want to give our maximum support to the goal of the regional church, which is none other than preparing a people for the second coming of Jesus.” [Juan Hilario, South American Division, and Adventist Review]

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