The Lake Union administrative team was re-elected to serve for an additional four years. Left to right: President Ken Denslow, with wife Patricia; Executive Secretary Elden Ramirez, with wife Jenny; Treasurer Glynn Scott, with wife Donna Mae; and General Vice President Carmelo Mercado, with wife Rosanne. Please continue to pray for them as they support our 88,000 members in the Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Lake Region and Wisconsin conferences. | Photos by Katie Fellows
On Sunday, May 15, delegates to the 23rd Lake Union Quinquennial Session voted by an overwhelming margin to re-elect the current slate of officers to a term to last four years.
President Kenneth Denslow was first elected to this role on June 9, 2021. Prior to his presidency he held several roles in the Lake Union, including president of Illinois Conference, and was assistant to the president of the North American Division.
“Thank you,” said Denslow, to the more than 300 delegates gathered at Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan. “We’ll work hard to fulfill the obligation and responsibilities you’ve voted today,” he said, referencing an earlier report which listed his three top priorities which are: growth in Adventist Education, mission to the four largest cities in the union, and leadership development. “We’re glad to be here and look forward to getting acquainted even more than we have already.”
Elden Ramirez was re-elected as executive secretary, a position held since Sept. 14, 2021. He joined the Lake Union from the North American Division where he served as undersecretary and previously was president of the Montana Conference.
“Thank you for the vote of confidence,” Ramirez said. “This is the beginning of a partnership. We ask that you keep our family in prayer as we serve you. If there’s anything we can do, please feel free to reach out and we’ll be more than glad to reach your territory.”
Glynn Scott who has served as Lake Union treasurer for more than 20 years, thanked the constituents for their faith in his treasury team. “It’s an honor to serve this union, hence my tenure,” he said. “I don’t think I need to convince you that we’re living in unusual times that requires wisdom, beyond human wisdom. I solicit your prayer on behalf of my treasury team that we will be in tune for whatever God wants to do, recognizing his soon return.”
Carmelo Mercado will continue to serve as vice president multicultural ministry. Mercado has served at the union since 2004 and said that it’s been an honor and privilege. “When I first took this job, I didn’t think I’d last this long. Praise God, it’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey working with different people groups and working with everybody.”
In addition to the administrative team, delegates voted to continue the leadership of the directors and associate directors. Additionally, they voted to promote Vicki Thompson from assistant to associate human resources director.
With the imminent retirement of Education director, Linda Fuchs, a new Education director was elected. Ruth Horton, Ed.D. has served as associate director since 2015 and will fill the director’s role effective July 1. Sue Tidwell, the union’s certification registrar and Early Childhood Education coordinator, was elected to fill the role of associate director. Nicole Mattson, Arizona superintendent and former Indiana superintendent, will serve as an associate.
The Constitution and Bylaws Committee presented the following item, which was voted down:
The members of the Organizing Committee shall be appointed by their respective conference’s executive committee not less than sixty (60 days) prior to the constituency session. The organizing committee shall meet not less than thirty (30) days prior to the constituency session.
After a robust discussion, delegates voted to keep the current rule of selecting members of the organizing committee on the same day as the constituency session.
The following 39 executive committee members were elected to serve from 2022 until 2026. The list is comprised of 11 who are appointed by virtue of their office (union administrators and the presidents of Andrews University and AdventHealth Great Lakes), leaving 28 seats, of which 14 are employees (indicated by 'E') and 14 lay persons (indicated with ‘L’).
In his president's report, Ken Denslow challenged the delegates, a group comprised of pastors, teachers and lay leaders to "keep stirring the pot of evangelism."
He said this pot has been stirring despite the challenges. For instances, Wisconsin had the highest number of baptisms in 2021, than ever before. "There's a searching going on in our field that's creating opportunities we haven't seen in the past."
The innovative Youth Evangelism Congress was showcased in a video.
Other ministries highlighted were Conectate, the every other year bilingual Hispanic youth congress, Pathway to Health clinic in Indianapolis, and the various evangelism meetings in Indianapolis; as well, as Andrews University's community outreach day.
Adventist Community Health Initiative had a tremendous impact but because of the coronavirus was paused. Denslow announced that the clinics will be back but scaled down because of the rigorous schedules for the leaders, Randy Griffin and Kathy Griffin. The Griffins are now running the Three Angels Bookstore (formerly Indiana ABC).
We celebrate diversity in the Lake Union. "We don't always get it right but we have room to grow." Denslow said that oftentimes we talk about diversity as a black, white thing but diversity also includes ethnicity. He shared a video highlighting how a Lake Region Rwandan congregation made of two groups in conflict, the Hutus and Tutsis, have managed to bridge the cultural divide.
The colporteur ministry was also spotlighted through Michigan Youth Rush literature evangelists who are spreading the gospel message far and wide.
We covet your prayers for the team as the leadership team seeks God's will for the Lake Union.
Debbie Michel, Lake Union Communication director