Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee Sets Priorities
Story by V. Michelle Bernard
God expects us to think through the path we take, and organizations have crossroads—decisions that will impact us for years to come,” said Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference, at the Union’s Executive Committee Retreat in March.
During the retreat, committee members reviewed the union’s mission and values and voted six priorities that will inform and guide the activities of the union for the remainder of the 2016-2021 quinquennium.
The process for choosing priorities began last September when the committee gathered for its first meeting. “Today we begin to build a framework for moving the mission forward during the next five years. It will be conducted for the purpose of uniting us in our union’s mission, values and priorities and answer three key questions: Who are we, where have we been and where are we going?” said Celeste Ryan Blyden, union vice president for Strategic Communication and Public Relations, who led the process.
Several common themes rose to the top after union leaders surveyed nearly 200 members of the union’s and its eight conference executive committees, including Adventist education, youth and young adults and a call for personal and corporate spiritual revival, Blyden reported at the November meeting.
At the March retreat, committee members discussed these outcomes further and reflected on which ones should become priorities. “Education is the foundation of our church, but if we don’t take care of the household of the church through education, we’re going to be a lost entity. We’ll have no relevance. We’ll be saving the world and losing our children,” declared Cynthia Poole, associate superintendent of education for the Allegheny East Conference.
Wyneshia Foxworth (pictured, opposite page, top), a member from the Allegheny East Conference’s North Philadelphia church, believes that the needs of young adults are intertwined with other stated priorities. “For our church to continuously move forward, young adults need to be excited about the work, education and social relevance. They need to hear that we’re having the conversation,” she said.
Bill Miller, president of the Potomac Conference, says that the union setting these priorities will help the conferences also emphasize the same priorities. “We’ll have a series of church entities all seeing off the same page. We can really emphasize and focus on them.”
During the March 12 Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee meeting in Hershey, Pa., committee members voted to approve the following:
During the 2016-2021 quinquennium, the Columbia Union Conference seeks to further the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by prioritizing the following:
Spiritual Renewal – Promote healthy churches by uniting members through personal and corporate spiritual revival and active engagement in ministry
Evangelism – Support initiatives that impact our communities by revealing the love of Christ, inviting people to accept Christ as their Savior and sharing the distinct Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness
Education – Foster excellence in spiritual and academic development in Adventist schools and support programs that promote affordability and increased enrollment
Leadership Development – Maximize the vitality of the church by supporting leadership development, promoting effectiveness, assuring equality and highlighting best practice
Youth/Young Adults – Engage youth and young adults in mission and provide opportunities for partnerships, ministry development and participation at all levels of the church
Social Relevance – Embracing opportunities to share Christ’s message of hope and wholeness by addressing issues that impact today’s society, encouraging and facilitating dialogue and seeking solutions that promote healing
Here are a few examples of social issues we could address:
- Mental Health
- Sex Trafficking
- Race Relations in the community and the church
- Hunger and Poverty
- Disease Prevention
- Human Trafficking
- Relating to the LGBTQ community
Read more in the May 2017 Visitor.