Who could forget March of 2020 when one day several church leaders were meeting with Indianapolis officials to plan the upcoming Your Best Pathway to Health event and the 61st General Conference Session, then the next day the mayor announced we were not able to meet in large gatherings because of the coronavirus threat?
Due to the shutdown, our churches and schools were suddenly forced to carry out ministry in new ways. As difficult as that was, our dedicated team rose to the occasion and God provided for our conference beyond our expectations.
As we celebrate God’s blessings, we are again highlighting our five main areas of ministry known as the Big Five+. These provide the mission template with which we operate as a conference.
Here in the Indiana Conference, we take seriously the Great Commission: Go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:18–20). Accordingly, God has led us to focus on the following areas of outreach:
In 2017, we formed a partnership with It is Written and the North American Evangelism Institute to hold training seminars in preparation for evangelistic meetings in over seventy churches in 2020. When the pandemic struck, we switched to a virtual platform with John Bradshaw and the It Is Written team called “Hope Awakens.” Since many were already trained, we were able to provide over 335 virtual Bible workers for the series.
Although we were disappointed that the General Conference voted to move its 2022 session to St. Louis, we were excited about the decision to keep the Your Best Pathway to Health event in Indianapolis. The city provided Lucas Oil Stadium for this event in April of 2022—a $300,000 gift! Praise God, we were still able to meet the needs of many through free medical and dental services. Following this health event, many churches in Indianapolis are conducting evangelistic meetings.
Statewide evangelistic meetings, community health initiatives, church planting opportunities, radio stations and Hope for Life TV continue to promote messages of hope to Hoosiers around the state.
The Apostle Peter emphasizes the importance of the gifts of every member in 1 Peter 4:10: As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Here are some of the ways Indiana members are actively involved in ministry:
Adventist Christian education continues to be a high priority for our conference. We are grateful for the 30 teachers and 12 schools across our state.
Indiana Academy is celebrating its 120th year in operation and continues to remain strong. With an intentional approach to providing service opportunities, students can be strengthened in their faith and inspired for mission.
Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs offer life-changing experiences throughout the year. The spring and fall camporees and family weekends provide opportunities for young people to grow in their faith and meet others their own age.
No doubt many young campers have been impacted for the Kingdom of God by the ministry of Timber Ridge Camp. Camp alumni often recount experiences that serve as pivotal, unforgettable moments in their spiritual journeys.
Our Public Campus Ministries program provides unique ways for our college-aged students to meet and fellowship with one another while attending state institutions of higher learning.
We recognize the importance of our pastors and teachers receiving ongoing training and support. Both virtual and in-person workshops/seminars are provided so our team members can continue to enhance their professional skills.
Our pastors meet on a quarterly basis in districts across the state for prayer and fellowship. Every summer we offer a pastors’ family retreat at Timber Ridge Camp, which has become a welcome tradition.
Teachers are offered training events through our local conference, the Lake Union Conference and North American Division. These topics include ongoing updates to curriculum, record-keeping software and testing platforms, as well as vital issues regarding physical safety and mental health.
This year, we are pleased to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Indiana Conference. While we have faced challenges and blessings throughout these many years, we are encouraged by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1). God has raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church in these days to prepare the world for His soon return. May we be faithful in fulfilling the commission that has been given to us.
Vic Van Shaik is president of the Indiana Conference.