Thousands of local church elders across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America celebrated their completion of a special certification during an online program held at the Inter-American Division (IAD) Headquarters in Miami, Florida, on Feb. 17, 2018.
The event was part of a comprehensive certification training strategy aimed at equipping church elders to better nurture and disciple members throughout the more than 22,000 churches and congregations in the IAD.
Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, reminded church elders of their important role as spiritual leaders and discipleship responsibilities in the congregations they lead.
“We want for every leader and member to understand that the role of the church elder and the pastor is similar,” said Pastor Leito. “The elder is the spiritual leader elected by the church board and the pastor is the spiritual leader sent by the world church.”
“You must understand God’s Word, defend it and let your disciples learn that you can take your Bible from Genesis to Revelation speaking the truth,” said Pastor Leito. “God expects us to be truthful in presenting the church’s doctrines wherever we are as well.”
The membership in the IAD stands at 3.7 million and growing, but there are only 3,200 pastors. That means the work of the more than 30,000 church elders is vital in discipling members and reaching more people with the Bible truths of salvation, said Pastor Josney A. Rodríguez, ministerial secretary for the church in Inter-American and main organizar of the event.
“The only way for the Adventist Church to continue as an organization at all levels is for the team of extraordinary pastors and church elders to be committed and trained to shepherd and guide the flock day by day in the life of the church,” said Rodríguez.
That’s been the goal: To get church elders having a clear vision of their task of motivating, empowering and nurturing the future generation of leaders alongside pastors, he added.
Coined as Every Elder Involved, the comprehensive certification program is on its second of three levels of training and development skills. This level was focused on empowering and training elders to accompany the district pastor in caring individually for the sheep of the flock while keeping follow-up records of church members, explained Rodríguez.
The training program will conclude in 2019 and will constitute a total of 60 hours of training in doctrine, unity of the church, family, music, and post-modernism, among other topics.
Pastor Rodríguez, who has been visiting training sessions across the 24 unions, reported that more than 20,000 church elders have registered for the training program since last year and more are expected to complete the certification by the end of year.