Executive Committee Votes Strategic Motto for 2024–2026
Story by V. Michelle Bernard
Members of the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee met today to hear reports from ministries and entities across the union. In his report, Dave Weigley (pictured with Jose Esposito), Columbia Union president, emphasized the purpose of the church: to serve our community and carry the gospel to the world.
He noted the plans for two upcoming evangelistic initiatives—one in Cincinnati, supported by the Allegheny West and Ohio conferences, and one in Baltimore, supported by the Allegheny East and Chesapeake conferences.
During the meeting, committee members also voted to adopt an updated strategic motto for the Columbia Union in 2024–2026: Experience the Mission: Equip, Empower, Engage. They also set 2024 as the year of community engagement for evangelism with collaboration.
Here are other highlights from the meeting:
--In his report, Emmanuel Asiedu, union treasurer, said, “Every dollar that we see, every expense has a connection to soul winning. That is what we’ve done and continue to do.”
Reporting on the last quarter, Asiedu reported that unionwide tithe is up 10.7 percent, world mission giving is up, and tithe in all eight conferences within the Columbia Union also increased. “God continues to bless in every direction,” he said.
--Celeste Ryan Blyden, union executive secretary, shared that, in the last quarter, membership is up .38 percent, totaling 148,952 members. She noted the age demographic of 34–59 comprised the largest part of the new membership.
She also noted the successful Columbia Union ASI chapter meeting last weekend that included a Friday business bootcamp with sessions to help attendees grow their businesses and use their businesses to help others find Christ.
--During the meeting, the committee also voted to change the status of Hartland Institute from "dissident" to "supporting" ministry. Over recent years, Hartland's leadership has stopped accepting tithe and worked to build a more positive relationship with local churches in their area and the church at large, noted Weigley who added that the local conferences who have been negatively impacted previously—Allegheny East, Chesapeake, Potomac, as well as the North American Division—support this action.
--The Executive Committee also heard several reports, including one from Marcellus T. Robinson, Allegheny East Conference president, on the conference’s 2022 constituency session, where he was elected as president.
-- In his report, Rubén A. Ramos, the union vice president of Multilingual Ministries, shared encouraging news, including his department recently helped to disseminate 15,680 Bibles, 36,000 Bible studies. They also distributed 110,000 Steps to Christ to local conferences and churches.
Ramos also shared a striking statistic concerning Ohio Conference’s Hispanic Ministries Department. He reported that Hispanic members welcomed 409 new converts last year, averaging a 5.7 member-to-new convert ratio, in comparison to the union’s overall ratio of 30.6.
--Celeste Ryan Blyden, chair of the Kettering Health board, also provided a report from Kettering Health, which included an update about the search for the incoming CEO, Mike Gentry and she noted that the health system now has 14 medical centers, 120-plus outpatient facilities and $2.56 billion in revenue.
-- Terry Forde, Adventist HealthCare president and CEO, shared a report, noting that the health system’s Public Relations and Marketing team recently won the Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter’s 2022 Best in Maryland award for its COVID-19 “Stick it to COVID” vaccination campaign.
-- Weymouth Spence, Washington Adventist University president, said the university recently celebrated its spring graduation and is preparing for its 120th anniversary next year.