Bern, Switzerland [CD-EUDNews, C.Cozzi]. This year's SDA Inter-European Executive Committee spring session took place in Florence, Italy. It was the first time Villa Aurora Adventist University hosted this meeting and it took place from May 25-27, 2014. Members of the committee are all EUD union presidents, department and institution directors.
In his introduction message, EUD President, Bruno Vertallier, said: “By uniting our strengths we can reach important goals in our ministry”.
During the last months, some changes have taken place in the EUD territory after some Union business meetings. In his report, Bruno Vertallier greeted Stefano Paris, Italian Union President, and Marius Munteanu, Romanian Union President, both new in their position. The EUD President also thanked Matthias Müller, the retired director of Stimme der Hoffnung - EUD Media Center, and Guenther Machel, the retired South German Federation President.
Klaus Popa is the new EUD Media Centre Director and Rainar Wanitschek is the new South German Federation President. Pavlik Mikulas was confirmed as Czecho-Slovakian Union president.
Gabriel Maurer, Executive Secretary, presented the EUD membership report. In 2013 there were 3.710 baptisms. Deducting the losses by death, drop-out and missing members, and with the net growth of 325, the division membership increased to 178,199 (as of December 2013).
Maurer highlighted in his report that our church is slightly growing but has much more potential considering the large number of outreach programs in the Union. Maurer also presented a first report, although incomplete, on the percentage of church members attendance, with a general average of about 60%. “We have to seriously consider this trend,” said Maurer “setting up a strategy to help our members to be more consistent in their participation.”
The EUD Treasurer's report by Norbert Zens, was a general overview not only of economy and finances, but also of the spiritual trend of the church considering members' generosity and faithfulness. The presentation included the report of Robert Lemmon, the treasurer of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference (GC). “The general trend around the world is very encouraging as the world-tithe continues to grow due to the generosity and faithfulness of the almost 18 million church members” said Lemmon.
It is good to know that the trend is continuing and contribution of tithe and offerings coming from divisions outside of North America is increasing. By 2013, about 60% of the world-tithe is coming from divisions outside North America.
Norbert Zens reported that the total tithe in EUD remained at 100 million euros, whereas the situation is quite different in the EUD Unions. Especially Portugal and Spain are still suffering under the financial crisis leading to a decrease in tithe income of about 20 percent over the last 5 years. As a result the EUD has been very involved in helping these Unions to better manage their situation. On the other hand “we are very thankful for the steady increase of financial support from our church members” said Zens. For instance in the French-Belgian Union (France, Belgium and Luxembourg) tithe income increased by almost 30% during the last 5 years. What is especially significant is that most of it is due to an increase in tithe given by each church member. “We are thankful to God that He continues to bless our church members in a special way, so that they continue donating in order to spread the good news of the salvation we find in Christ and His soon return. The task is huge but we trust in the grace and power of God to lead us in challenging times” concluded Zens.
One of the guests at this mid-year meeting was Dr. Roger J. Pamplona, medical doctor at Lake Geneva Sanitarium and author of books on health issues. His presentation focused on the Adventist diet compared to the Mediterranean diet and other fashion diets. “Compared to a modern Western diet, consider a simple or even poor diet, like the Mediterranean lifestyle: with their diet, physical activity at open air (walking, agriculture), eating as a source of pleasure and enjoyment and consider meals as a social event eating in group and family.”
Dr. Pamplona informed the Executive that “Seventh-day Adventists are among the most highly educated groups of people in the world. Since the 1950's, researchers have published more than 250 scientific papers using tens of thousands of Seventh-day Adventists as subjects. These were published in the United States, Australia, Norway, Japan, Poland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the Caribbean Islands.” Dr. Pamplona explained that this is the result of the Adventists’ “unique lifestyle" resulting in dramatic increases in life expectancy and reductions in death rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer, the leading killers in North America.”
Evangelism was given special attention with the ongoing plans. David Jennah, French-Italian Swiss Conference President, presented the current 'Big City Geneva' project. A new church, VIVO (www.vivo-geneve.ch) is developing due to the efforts of a team of pastors and volunteers, who have been working since last September. 'Big City Geneva' is following the world wide GC project in establishing a strong impact in major “big cities” in the world.
Among the guests from the General Conference, Delbert Baker, GC Vice President, offered an interesting approach on leadership. As guideline for a ‘strong spiritual leader’ he based his study on the book of James. “In his writings, James gives 15 tests to evaluate the consistency of a real spiritual leader” said Baker, “this is a simple but effective approach to carry out the divine mandate.”
“The presentations and the devotionals pointed to spiritual leadership with competence and setting a good example for all of us," affirmed Maurer.
Klaus Popa, new Director of the Stimme der Hoffnung EUD Media Center, recommended a project commemorating the 500 years' anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther which will take place in 2017. “Because our church comes from this protestant background,” said Popa, “we should consider a contribution to this special celebration, highlighting the message of ‘justification by faith'.”
In his conclusive message, inspired by the biblical story of David and his son Absalom, President Bruno Vertallier invited all the Executive Committee members to reflect on the qualities of a leader, able to recognize his/her mistakes. At the same time we should "know how to respect others in the same way we would want to be respected as leaders." He added: "Let us remember that we must work for the unity of our members. The Lord wants peace for his people. Sometimes, we find reasons to argue about issues such as eating or clothing and apparel. But God is involved in a battle much bigger than our conflicts. It is important to fight for what is really worth the effort: our salvation in Jesus!".
The EUD Mid-Year Meeting was held in the ‘ Florence Life Hope Centre’, the new structure inaugurated on February 1st, 2014 at Villa Aurora Campus, the Italian Adventist University.
The Inter-European Division is based in Bern, Switzerland and consists of 2,525 churches, 580 groups and includes 178,199 baptized members plus several thousands counting children, visitors, and others.
Pictures: 1. The EUD spring meeting; 2. Bruno Vertallier, EUD President; Matthias Mueller, retired EUD Media Center Director; Guenther Machel, retired South German Federation President; 3. Robert Lemmon, GC Treasurer, addressing the audience; 4. Dr. J. Pamplona, medical doctor and author of books on health issues; 5. Delbert Baker, a GC Vice-President; 6. The EUD Officers: Bruno Vertallier, President, Gabriel Maurer, Executive Secretary, Norbert Zens, Treasurer (photos: Corrado Cozzi)