Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Saud Elias, Hispanic Ministries coordinator; his wife, Yolanda; Gary Gibbs, president; Pablo Perez, pastor of the Kennett Square Hispanic church; and his wife, Maria, attend the organization service for Kennett Square’s church plant.

A Quinquennium in Review

Story by Gary Gibbs, Pennsylvania Conference President

God has moved powerfully over the last five years. Lives have been impacted and churches transformed. More than 2,500 people have committed their lives to Christ and have joined a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Pennsylvania Conference since 2018— an average of 500 per year. We set a goal of 13,000 in membership during this quinquennium and, with God’s blessings, we have more than 13,600 members. He continued to bless by providing our new Mission and Evangelism Center debt free that has enabled us to better resource our pastors, teachers, churches and members. Here is a glimpse of some of the other amazing ways He is working.

The Impact of Evangelism

We have intentionally created a strong culture of evangelism in our conference through training, communication, practicing evangelism in all its facets, and much prayer under the leadership of Yves Monnier, Ministerial and Evangelism director, and Lillian Torres, Evangelism assistant director. Nearly 1,000 members participated in our Winsome Witnessing training this spring. Members across the conference are now engaged in following up with hundreds of Bible study leads.

Since 2021, we are consistently conducting more than 100 evangelistic meetings each year.

Our Camp Meeting Evangelism Offering has tremendously grown over the years. In 2023, more than $430,000—an all-time high—was contributed and pledged toward evangelism. Imagine the lives that will be impacted by this incredible giving! Something special is happening in Pennsylvania.

Reaching and Connecting

In 2022, we created a Media Ministries Department that will enable us to reach the little towns and villages where churches don’t exist—and partner with churches and pastors in metro areas to connect more effectively with their communities. Social media allows us to choose specific areas and intentionally reach communities.

Media Ministries Director Matt Stroup’s first production was Winsome Witnessing, a series of 10 videos designed to equip people to become effective witnesses. More than 70 churches used the series to train members in sharing the gospel and giving Bible studies.

The new Prophecies of Hope with Gary Gibbs videos, available through YouTube, offers 27 videos that enable members to share Bible studies with others simply by watching the lesson together and then completing the corresponding worksheet.

Churches Are Regenerated

In 2021, we launched the Regeneration Department, an exciting initiative designed to provide resources, training and mentoring to equip and enable churches to grow and share the gospel. Stewart Lozensky, director of Regeneration, is partnering with 33 churches who are learning to refocus on their mission, create a vision for ministry and believe that God will grow their church. 

Education Is Working Together for Our Kids

Blue Mountain Academy students celebrate with  João Marques (in baptismal pool), one of seven  students who were baptized last school year.“Our most important goal is to partner with God and parents to offer young people a safe place to grow spiritually, academically and socially,” shares Burney Culpepper, Blue Mountain Academy (BMA) principal. “We are intentional about creating opportunities for students to live out their ever-growing faith. We are excited to watch God transform the lives of students and prepare them, not only for the future, but for eternity.”

BMA’s enrollment has grown during this quinquennium. More importantly, lives are being impacted. Seven young people chose to be baptized during the 2022–23 academic year alone. Graduates are choosing to pursue degrees in theology and education— to live a life of mission-focused service.

This commitment to quality academics and spiritual growth is also an intentional focus of our nine day academies. “We are working together with pastors and educators to create a school environment that is a center for evangelism,” shares Leona Bange, education superintendent. Eighteen students were baptized in the 2022–23 academic year, thanks in part to Bible studies, week of prayer events and chapels.

Young People Are Chosen and Called

As a result of our commitment to disciple young people to love and serve God, we invited Todd Casey to serve as youth director in 2020. This year, we added Johnathan Ryan as associate director as we continue to invest in impacting young people.

More than 450 children participate in Pathfinders and Adventurers each year. Young people are growing deeper in their walk with God and committing to baptism at Laurel Lake Summer Camp. More than 35 high school- and college-age teens have knocked on 110,000-plus doors, sharing the gospel and literature through our Impact Ministries literature evangelism program.

Each year since 2019, young adults have grown in their relationship with God, discovered a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist, and are equipped to share the gospel through Bible studies, Health Ministries, evangelistic series and more through our CORE School of Evangelism. Under the leadership of Dee Casper, director, CORE has also launched an online course, The Three Angels’ Messages.

Gary GibbsPrayer

Join me in praising God for the ways He has blessed and led us through this past quinquennium, praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we continue to seek His will and impact lives. 

The Pennsylvania Conference is hosting their 17th Quinquennial Constituency Session, October 22, 2023.

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