On May 20th, 2023, the South England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists recently witnessed a remarkable event in South London, led by the Area 6b President of Adventist Community Services, Hewitt Grant. Aptly titled 'Community Services Reloaded', the event hosted at Balham Seventh-day Adventist Church brought together a diverse group of individuals, united by their commitment to serving their community and spreading hope.
One of the programme's key messages resonated deeply with the attendees: attending church on Saturdays differs from actual service. The event shed light on the importance of moving beyond the confines of the church walls and extending a helping hand to those in need.
A brilliant idea emerged during the event: tapping into employers' volunteering policies. Attendees were encouraged to request time off work to volunteer in their local ministry. The Conference created a letter to facilitate this process that individuals could present to their employers, explaining their desire to contribute to their community. By leveraging these policies, church members can actively engage in service without additional strain on their schedules.
The event's impact was evident as more than 30 individuals expressed their desire to get involved and make a difference. A newfound momentum has enveloped the Area 6b community, propelling members to request time off from their employers, innovative pioneer ministries, and embody the compassionate spirit of Jesus.
A clear roadmap for the next two years was outlined during the event, emphasising vital priorities. These priorities included creating a comprehensive disaster relief plan, fostering stronger connections with other departments, exhibiting greater sensitivity to the community's needs, establishing a task force for a residential care home in Area 6b, and developing a directory of services within the local area.
Pastor Vili Costescu, Wimbledon church pastor, delivered an empowering message, reminding attendees that they stand on the shoulders of giants. He challenged them to embrace change and make a difference in the lives of others. Rather than simply attending church to learn what they already know, Costescu encouraged the congregation to become change agents in their communities.
Building upon Costescu's message, Pastor Wentworth Sewell, Bethel and Mitcham Luganda church pastor, reminded the audience of Christ's method, urging them to emulate His example. After caring for people, they were encouraged to invite them to follow Jesus. This approach emphasised the importance of genuine care and compassion, leading to impactful transformations in the lives of those they serve.
One heart-warming event segment recognised long-serving leaders in Area 6b. Sisters Bernard, Walfall, McKenzie, Kavanagh, Simpson, Saul, and Brother Morrison were honoured with plaques, symbolising that the ambitious plans for the future are built upon the solid foundation they and others have laid. Their commitment and dedication inspire the current generation to push further and dream bigger.
The combined Area 6b Youth Choir delivered a stunning performance, aligning their harmonies with the programme's theme. Their uplifting songs, including 'Beautiful Feet', 'Called to Be', and 'Bless Somebody Else', deeply resonated with the audience. The choir's performance left a lasting impression, motivating attendees to embrace their gifts and engage in acts of service, ensuring a brighter future for their communities.
The event highlighted the significance of unity and teamwork. Even if one's home church is geographically distant, supporting the ministries of nearby churches fosters a sense of solidarity and shared purpose. The attendees felt inspired to support the initiatives in their local communities, realising that their collective efforts could create lasting change.
The area leaders have scheduled a roadshow expected to take place in South London, carrying forward the inspirational messages from the event. With the support and dedication of the congregation, the future shines brightly for Area 6b. As the church continues to expand its influence, the transformative power of service and hope will touch the lives of countless individuals, fostering a brighter and more inclusive community for all.