Reports at the Spring Lake Union Executive Committee Show Continued Growth
Tithe and baptisms up; meeting the teacher shortage crisis head-on; time to “get back to the basics”
Lake Union President Ken Denslow gave the following update:
The union has identified three areas of focus for the next three years. They are leadership development, school enrollment, and mission to the cities of Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.
Regarding our schools:
There’s a mental health crisis on all campuses and it’s truly a time for messages of hope.
We’re trying to increase our enrollment, but it’s no use trying to increase it when we don’t have enough teachers. Developing multiple avenues to address the teacher shortage, including working with the seminary to adjust the requirements for the MA in Bible Teaching such that students when they graduate are certified to teach. Also, we are close to signing a memorandum of understanding with Andrews University to provide classes toward certification, as well as offering a master’s degree and/or PhD classes in education-related programs at a fixed or reduced cost.
Vice President Report by Carmelo Mercado
ASI will have its first in-person gathering since 2019 in the Chicago area, April 28-29. Neil Nedley, president of Weimar Institute is featured speaker for the spring fellowship, and he’ll talk about thriving in a post-pandemic world.
Bilingual youth congress, Conectate, is June 2-4 on the campus of Andrews University. Speaker Arnando Cruz will promote the idea of digital evangelism.
Mobile dental clinics are coming back and will serve as a springboard to evangelism in the cities of Detroit and Indianapolis.
“Growing Together” was launched in Southwest Union and have invited a presenter to talk to Hispanic pastors about building intergenerational growth.
Praying that 2023 will be a year where we all come together but what we need more than anything else is revival. I recall my time at Andrews University in the early 70s when the campus was experiencing a revival. Young people were going out and sharing the love of God. There was a spirit of unity. My prayer is that we’ll see a revival in prayer, in mission and falling in love with Jesus so we can bring hope to this world. We, as a people, have an opportunity to share that hope.
Conference Presidents’ Reports
Lake Region Report Presented by President Garth Gabriel (online) and Executive Secretary Abraham Henry
We are concentrating on our schools, which we have neglected for so many years. Disbursed $200,000 for capital improvements to renovate two schools, Chicago Christian and Chicago South Suburban.
Held a two-day young adult conference two months ago where 500 people descended on the south side of Chicago. The majority of the attendees were non-Adventists.
Indiana Report Presented by President Vic Van Schaik
Hired full-time director for multicultural ministry, Noel Ojeda. Seen a lot of growth in this area and want to come along with what the Holy Spirit is doing.
Looking at ways to raise endowments to make schools stronger financially.
Theme for the year is “Experiencing the Word” based on Romans 10:17 – faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Encouraging members to spend the year reading the Bible. Distributed bible reading plan. It would be an amazing thing to see a revival coming from reading the word. Statistic said that only 52% of Adventists are doing regular devotionals, and so we are emphasizing spending time with God.
Doing an online academy, similar to Michigan Conference. Vouchers are available for online school here and this information was a game changer. We have 19 students currently signed up and looking forward to more before the fall.
Wisconsin Report Presented by President Titus Naftanaila
Intergenerational discipleship focus. Have had training and more planned at summer camp. Going back to the basics. Almost every church has outreach, but we want to focus on the basics.
Hired pastor in Milwaukee and plan to start an urban center of influence.
Have strong lay pastors’ program and have already hired two of them.
New leadership at Wisconsin Academy and there is a great atmosphere.
Have a challenge at Milwaukee Junior Academy: a waiting list because there’s no space to accommodate them.
Excited about new youth director Josant Barrientos Jr. joining the team. Will have a restructuring and expand the team to include two associates.
Was in the process of preparing the budget and going to be short to the tune of $500,000. On Jan. 31, we received a million-dollar gift from an anonymous donor which more than covers the budget year and gives opportunity to prepare for the following year.
Had an opportunity to visit the Russian Adventist Church. Church changed name to Hope Adventist Church two months after the invasion. They are discovering that as Ukrainians come to the church, if they hear Russian spoken they will turn away. Church has since tripled in attendance since so many refugees have arrived. Looking for funding for at least a part-time pastor. Refugees are in interim housing. One of focal points is to help this group with their basic needs.
Michigan Report Presented by President Jim Micheff
Aspire Academy, the online school, has grown over the last couple of years to the point where we will have a 12th grade academy next year with a projected 90 students.
Grateful for the new office building. Have enjoyed the space but with strong demand for Camp au Sable have started offering one-day trainings at the office building.
September 24 will have constituency session. On heels of that, in October, will have conference-wide evangelistic series with Voice of Prophecy’s Shawn Boonstra.
Hosting a mission trip to Detroit and partnering with Streams of Light from Central California Conference to distribute 600,000 copies of the book, “Great Controversy” by Ellen White.
Brief discussion on the topic of online schools. Denslow says he applauds conferences for trying to bring more students to Christian education. “We can’t sit back. We have to try new things.”
Micheff adds that they wondered what impact online school would have on brick-and-mortar schools and found that a large percentage of online students are coming from non-brick- and-mortar.
Denslow says, “Parents want to have more control over their education and there are other non-Adventist options and I like that they have Adventist options.”
Secretariat Report presented by Lake Union Executive Secretary Elden Ramirez
As of Dec. 2022, Lake Union has:
500 churches and 60 companies
289 teachers; 129 staff, 55 admins
88,972 members, a gain of 297 members
Pastors voted for ordination:
Indiana: Cris Suarez, Cicerco Church associate pastor
Michigan: Jay Clough, based in the upper peninsula; Prescott Khair, Pioneer Memorial Church associate chaplain; Dennis Page, Berrien Springs Village Church associate pastor; Ray Torres, Bunker Hill, Marshall and Jackson churches pastor
Wisconsin: Cristofe Guzman, Sheboygan Hispanic District
Joi McClellan voted to serve as the Lake Union Conference young adult representative to the North American Division Committee (Year-end Meetings). Joi is a student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She has experience in working with cross-cultural context; church and secular settings; and has served in leadership roles among her peers.
Financial Highlights from Lake Union Treasurer Glynn Scott
2022 tithe $86.7 million up 0.31% over 2021 tithe. Tithe for 2021 was historic high of 12.1% over 2020
Operating gain for 2022 was $206,000
2023 operating budget includes special appropriations to the local conferences, to the tune of:
$425,000 prorated to the conference, unrestricted for mission and ministry
$25,000 ($5,000 per conference) for Share Him Youth Evangelism
$80,000 for five dental clinics--one per conference--during 2023