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Lake Union President Maurice Valentine listens to discussions at the executive committee meeting | Photos by Felicia Tonga Taimi     

May 4, 2020

Lake Union approves guidelines on sexuality and gender; tithing and membership numbers up

The Lake Union approved guidelines on sexuality and gender for Church institutions at the March 4, 2020 executive committee meeting.

The guidelines were developed within the context of the Great Commission and the Three Angels’ Messages (Revelation 14:6-12), and follow general principles that have been developed by church leadership, theologians, and medical experts within the Lake Union and its affiliated conferences.  They can serve as a guide and supplement in implementing the General Conference and North American policy statements on issues of gender and sexuality. Conferences are free to adapt the Lake Union statement to their specific needs.

 Full document is available here.

Nicholas Miller, Lake Union legal counsel, presenting the sexuality and gender document

 

Other highlights of the meeting include:

President's Report

A few years ago, executive committee members gave a list of three areas they wanted the Lake Union leadership to focus on: 1) Spiritual Growth of Churches; 2) Discipleship Training; 3) Spiritual Growth of Leaders.

In seeking to deepen the spirituality of the Lake Union leadership, a group of administrators and conference presidents traveled to the Middle East in early January, to walk where Christ lived while on His earthly mission.

President Maurice Valentine said he wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the trip, reporting that it was “life changing.” He said, “To see the same hills that Jesus saw, same sea He stood upon, it encourages you to dig deeper.”

Several of the presidents expressed their gratitude to AdventHealth for sponsoring the trip and said they counted it a blessing to see the Bible come alive. “It was a time of renewal, individually and collectively,” said Jim Micheff, Michigan Conference president.

 

 

 

Secretariat's Report

Executive Secretary, Steven Poenitz shared that the net increase in Lake Union membership for 2019 was 362, representing a 0.41% growth. Membership is now at 88,898.

 

 

Poenitz noted that in analyzing the 10-year growth chart between 2009 and 2019, he noticed a large dip in membership in 2015 and 2018 (see slide below). He plans to investigate why this may have occurred and report back at the next meeting, May 2020.

 

 

Another area of interest was tracking where Lake Union members go when they leave the union (see slide below). “There seems to be a Southeastern movement where folks are transferring to,” he said.

 

Three conferences presented on how they utilized special evangelism funds from the Lake Union:

Lake Region reported on various evangelistic efforts underway, including a creative partnership between Michigan and Indiana conferences called the Michiana Initiative. Five churches are involved Berean Church (LRC), Praise Fellowship (LRC), South Bend First (IN), Grace Place (IN) and Niles Westside (MI). (Watch for more details in the Lake Union Herald.)

In his report, Indiana Conference President Vic Van Schaik said he’s excited to see what’s happening with their Burmese and Mizo refugee groups. “When you go and preach there, they have a lot of young people and they supportive our church schools.” Also, thankful for the Hispanic work. Last year, invested money for small groups and from these 87 groups meeting across the state and they had 40 baptisms. Evangelism funds were also used for their conference evangelist to conduct proclamation evangelism.

LUC Executive committee voted the following 2020 appropriations:  $100,000.00 each to Indiana and Lake Region for GC 2020; $500 to each full-time pastor within the Lake Union to attend GC Session or NAD 2020 Pastors’ Convention and $25,000.00 each to Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin Conference for General Evangelism.

Wisconsin President Mike Edge said they invested in their Hispanic ministries for training and other plans are forthcoming this year.

Other matters voted:

  • Talia Bryant from Lake Region was added to the executive committee
  • Five new pastors were approved for ordination. From Michigan: Sean Brizendine, Josiah Hill and Carlos Sotomayor; and Wisconsin: Alcidiel Leopoldino and Justin Spady

 

 

Lake Union Treasurer, Glynn Scott (far right), with other officers

Treasury Report

At the end of 2019, overall tithe gains in the Lake Union were in the positive territory, up 0.42%.

 

 

Across North America in 2019, tithe was down 0.20% (slide below), so “I praise God for the faithfulness of our people,” said Lake Union Treasurer, Glynn Scott.

 

 

 

Vice President's Report

Vice President Carmelo Mercado in his report gave updates on some of the various initiatives he is spearheading:

  • “Our United Cry” Prayer Rally is at near capacity with 480 registrants coming from across the U.S.

 

  • Your Pathway to Health still looking for volunteers. Urged to talk to dentists and make personal appeal for them to serve.

 

  • General Conference sponsored initiative to distribute material across the city during the Session

 

  • Second-generation immigrant kids are susceptible to leaving the church. As such, a plan in the works to have thousands of small groups across North American come together, Oct. 16-24, to study Bible and conduct service-related projects. More information at www.migps.com