Seventh-day Adventist world church leaders cited membership growth and need for flexibility when reorganizing administrative structures in August, including a large region of Brazil experiencing explosive membership growth.
Officials revealed to the church’s Executive Committee the changes in Brazil’s Amazon region and areas of the church’s Euro-Asia Division, while meeting October 14.
The former North Brazil Union Mission encompassed about 45 percent of Brazil’s land mass, spanning about 3.28 million square miles. The area, now comprised of two union missions, includes about 350,000 Adventists and charts some 45,000 new members each year.
Brazil has the most Adventists of any country, with nearly 1.4 million members.
“We see a lot of opportunities there, and we want to be able to better support our members,” said Erton Köhler, president of the church in South America.
The distinction of a “union mission” indicates that the union receives appropriation for operation, unlike a “union conference,” which is self-supporting. Additional funding for missions is supplied by the parent division, one of the church’s 13 world administrative regions.
The Executive Committee also revealed to delegates changes in structures in the Eastern European Caucasus region. Leaders voted to reorganize the Caucasus Union Mission into two union missions: the Trans-Caucasus Union Mission with headquarters in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Caucasus Union Mission with headquarters in Rostov, Russia.
Associate world church secretary Agustin Galicia pointed out that this change was studied prior to conflict in the region in August.
Church structure in the countries of Belarus and Moldova will become “unions of churches” with conference status. This structure, typically applied in smaller territories and countries, allows local churches to organize directly under a division. Moldova currently has nearly 11,500 members worshipping in 153 churches under two conferences.
The Far Eastern Mission in Eastern Russia will become a union of churches with mission status.