The usual Executive Committee for the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church took place at Freudenstadt. From May 22 to 23, the presidents met together, representing the various unions that make up the EUD (Central, South and part of Eastern Europe).
With the motto 'It starts with clear vision', the EUD president, Mario Brito, called the attention of the 40 participants, among which were union presidents, institution directors, department directors and lay members, to the vision the administration should have: All things we are doing here is about people.
“Our focus is the church, the members of the church, and equipping them to be able to accomplish the mission that Jesus entrusted us, a mission that is part of a clear vision. We have to help our members to discover the power of this mission,” enforced Brito.
The job of the executive committee is, for the most part, administrative but, often, the president directed attention to the principal goal of the committee, which is to take into account the important role that an individual member plays in the internal structure of the Church.
One of the fundamental points that was treated during the meeting was the discussion surrounding the strategic framework – a document that was thought out by the EUD executive committee at the end of 2015, in Bucharest.
Barna Magyarosi, the General Secretary, presented this strategic plan for the next 5 years. “The philosophy behind it is that if a Christian is blessed by the Lord then his world should receive the same blessings,” commented Jackie Ngalula, Belgian lay member of the Executive Committee.
The document is entitled ‘Reach the World’ and is subdivided into 7 chapters. The strategic focus and objective that comprises this document is concentrated on three axes long proposed by the General Conference: Reach up, Reach in and Reach out.
These directions are a way of suggesting to the Church that it is important to pay particular attention to the way in which it is in contact with God (Reach up), the way in which it is in contact with the outside world (under the evangelization aspect – Reach out), and the way in which its relationships occur inside the church, or the interpersonal relationships of the various members (Reach in).
“We can ask ourselves ‘How will this plan efficiently reach each member?’” asks Jackie Ngalula. “Every one of us has to think about how they share the mission with their world. We often do plans and programs to reach people. What if we try to be Christians and let the Holy Spirit do,” commented Ngalula.
The document is directed at the churches, therefore at the church members, and it suggests a sufficiently dynamic strategy that permits the church to be more visible in terms of identity but, above all, in terms of service.
Among other votes on the agenda, we find one on supporting women’s ministry. The vote states: Recommended to find in compliance with existing policies multiple ways to train and empower women for ministry and to encourage them to act in all possible areas and levels of church life and service.
Denise Hochstrasser, Women’s Ministries Director, pointed out that there is a huge gap between the number of men and women working in leading positions within our church. She urged that there may be a change, as there are so many gifted women in the church who are willing to serve God also in leadership positions. We need more women serving and shaping our church, in order to spread the gospel.
The goal of this vote is to continue to invite our sisters and women to study in order to become ministers of the church.
A separate article will be published with a more detailed explanation.
During the executive’s work, particular attention was given to the programs that will be taking place next year, 2017, internationally considered as the year of Reform.
The Adventist church in Germany has long taken into consideration a program that includes conferences on the topic of the Reform – the presentation of some works linked to the relationship between the Reform and the Adventist Church, a study tour program around the communal locations of the Reform in Germany and other particular attentions to enrich the year with events that remind us of who we are, where we come from and the foundation of our faith.
Other Unions and European countries are also organizing programs and projects to highlight this year of Reform – included are Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy.
Valerie Dufour, Director of Health Ministries, talked about the challenges they are facing today, including the increasing number of mental disorders such as depression. Our church could support people already suffering from depression or those who tend to develop it. Moreover, our church can help in making these kinds of medical conditions more accepted in society by offering preventive measures and useful information.
Stephan Sigg, Youth Director, gave information about various events like the upcoming European Youth Congress in Valencia, taking place from August 1st – 6th, 2017. In general, events and gatherings like this are very helpful for the youth to discover and strengthen their faith so that they may stick closer to the church and find their place within the church. This is essential for their spiritual and moral growth – the efforts are definitely worth it.
Sigg emphasized the need to propose a new study on the youth, a second Valuegenesis, this time internally in our Division. This survey will take place in 2017 and will examine in part questions that were proposed in the first European Valuegenesis. The goal is to understand what development has taken place in these recent years, from the point of view of the solution to determined problems that appeared in the first Valuegenesis. It will also examine the growth of our youth in relation to their knowledge of the church and, most of all, its mission.
Corrado Cozzi presented a report on the congress of the deaf and the deaf-and-blind that took place in Seville last May, from the 13th to the 16th.
This congress hosted around 250 participants, a majority being deaf, with their families. This congress is the confirmation that the church takes into account this strip of members and non-members who are considered part of the special needs group.
Already, in the last year, the EUD organized a training course for interpretation for the deaf, all this in light of the fact that the church is equipping itself to come into contact with whomever has a different method of comprehension.