The new North England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists administration had their first workers' meeting virtually on Wednesday 29 September.
In his opening address to the Pastors, Directors & Sponsors, the NEC President Pastor George Kumi reminded them that they are their own managers. He assured them that they would be supported in every way possible to deliver the responsibilities they have been called for. In his introduction and welcome of Pastor Emanuel Bran, the Executive Secretary and Michael Agyei-Asare the NEC Treasurer, they were given a moment to address the workforce.
Pastor Bran said It’s such a privilege for him to be asked to return to the NEC and is looking forward to the fellowship. He saw his role as someone who is there to serve, equip and empower the workforce to fulfil their roles and grow the church in the NEC. He expressed his excitement for the journey ahead.
The Treasurer, Michael Agyei-Asare, reminded the team that there will be decisions that will be made that are popular and some which will be unpopular. He said there will be things that come up that are expected and unexpected but he hopes that they will work through everything together. He also assured the NEC workers that he is here to serve and equip. He highlighted that he has a passion for evangelism and is looking forward to sitting with the team and hearing their ideas.
In his devotional presentation Pastor Kumi said, “We are fellow servants in Christ. John the Revelator was ready to worship the angel in Revelation but the latter said Rev: 22:9 ‘No don’t worship me. I am a fellow servant with you with your fellow prophets… There’s no hierarchical approach, we are all fellow servants and at end of our days we would expect to hear the resounding accolade ever bestowed on any man or woman, well done thou good and faithful servant.”
The President alluded his awareness of the issues and divisions within the NEC and that there has to be building of unity, healing, hope and restoration through fellowship in the church as we return after several episodes of furlough and reduced hours. He also cautioned that “We must guide the use of our tongue and let God build us up. If we subject ourselves to men and women to make us they equally can break us. Only the saviour can make us, break us and mend us again for His glory.” He said “The Command is still to go and make disciples for the kingdom of God. We have nothing to fear because God is still recruiting people for His courts above. Our church is in a fighting mode, every church is a military outpost. We can't turn the guns on ourselves. In spite of the turbulence, storms, and hurricanes our God is still the captain of the old ship of Zion. He will bring us safely to the shore if we remain on the ship. We must show by example and witness that our God is in control.”
The Directors, Sponsors and Pastors were given the opportunity to express their expectations with the new administration. The was a very productive and positive discourse amongst the workers and administrators. Pastor Andrew Rashford-Hewitt expressed that “Moving forward it would be good for us to work collaboratively, to avoid the transactional parent child, top-down approach to ministry. It would be extremely beneficial to establish a more equal tone of ministerial inter-relationships where there can be positive affirmation, validation and approval for pastors and all workers in a mutually recursive process. There needs to be a new and intentional process of engagement, where mistrust, suspicion and fear can be eliminated and motivation, trust and appreciation can be nurtured thus leading to a truly empowered work force that will be enthused to spread the three angels message to our post-modern post covid society. Also, to recognise the various gifts of each worker and to encourage growth in those gifted areas and to validate the senior ministers and their experience which can be a rich resource to further the achievement of conference strategic goals and emphasises.
There also needs to be a new way of conducting ministerial audits/reviews and a move to developing something that is truly pastorally ministry contextualised and seeks to provide a form of supervision for what is a caring profession. A ministerial review that will focus on maximising strengths and working through growth areas that focuses on building positive relationships, with the worker, the congregations and administration and that has validation at its core. One that takes training and development seriously. Something that is focused on the giftedness of the Holy spirit.”
Pastor Rashford-Hewitt’s sentiments were echoed by Pastor Jonathan Holder who said, “I would expect that the NEC grows even more into a place of collaboration and openness, where we work together supporting each other in ministry.”
Pastor Patricia Douglas shared a four-point plan 1: Professionalism: this is essential and must permeate all areas of the NEC. 2: A recognition and affirmation of best practice, so that becomes pervasive throughout the conference and becomes the ‘norm’. 3: A re-evaluation of the Pastoral audit process. 4.The creation of a process, a safe space, where the Minister/employee is developed (coached), exploring areas of strengths, weakness and potential growth, with short term, intermediate and long-term goals. Such a process, has the potential of increasing job satisfaction.
It was a great meeting as many of the attendees later expressed. There is optimism in the NEC workforce and a hope that if there is continuance based on the first meeting then the conference should be on a good footing.
Pastor Kumi ended the meeting by reminding the Pastors to reacquaint themselves with the policies of the church and the church manual so as to alleviate contentious issues in their churches.
Please continue to pray for the North England Conference workers as they embark on this important work of Christ. Shalom.