Online Event Launches Inter-America 2013 Outreach Efforts
Year of Laity plans emerge at Honduras meeting
By: Libna Stevens, Inter-America Division
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America officially launched its comprehensive initiatives for its 2013 Year of the Laity during a live online program at the Comayaguela Adventist Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 27, 2012. Dozens of executive committee members joined the historic event, while thousands of church board members across the territory connected via the Internet to witness and adopt the initiatives and activities.
LAITY YEAR LAUNCH: Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Inter-America participate in the launch of the church’s 2013 Year of the Laity initiative during a live Webcast held in Comayaguela Adventist Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 27, 2012. The online event connected thousands of local church boards across the territory during the two-hour program.“The church has been enriched by the hard work of our ministers and lay members in spreading the gospel in Inter-America. This is why we have designated 2013 as the Year of the Laity, to let work of the church be felt more throughout the community,” said Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.
“Our online event was about directly involving our church boards in seeing, joining, partnering, and adopting initiatives that will continue to propel our church toward sharing Christ more during 2013,” Leito added.
It was an orchestrated event that set the tone for the two-hour opening of the biannual executive committee meetings in an effort to solicit the support of local church board members to unite in carrying out evangelism efforts throughout their communities while celebrating the work of the laity.
Scheduled events and activities such as spiritual celebrations, virtual councils, gatherings, baptisms, evangelistic efforts, and community-impact events are planned as the church and its various ministries endeavor together for united efforts in 2013, said Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church in Inter-America.
“We are excited to gain full participation from our lay members, which includes professionals, men, women, young people, and children in the preaching of the gospel,” added Ferreyra.
Already nearly 1 million laypeople have been trained during an initiative that the church in Inter-America coined as Vision One Mission. The initiative sought to train 1 million disciples in any of five areas: preaching, Bible instruction, witnessing, small-group leadership, and global mission pioneering.
LEADER SPEAKS: Israel Leito, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America, addresses church leaders and online viewers on 2013 Year of the Laity initiatives.More than 8,000 connections registered to watch the Webcast, and hundreds of comments were logged on the event Web site as it happened.
Division-wide initiatives highlighting the Year of the Laity include revival convocations, a day of fasting and prayer, virtual council for church elders, evangelism deployment throughout the territory, Vision One Million celebration, baptismal ceremony by church elders and community impact through health activities.
Ana Aceituno Ortiz of the Tepeyac Adventist Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was among the members of the 30 church boards gathered at the live event in the Comayaguela Adventist Church. Her church board voted to adopt initiatives presented during the program.
As children’s ministries director in her church, Ortiz was excited to hear about the special activities, especially those that connect with the community.
“This program was such an inspiration because it outlined how all the ministries can work together to have a greater impact,” said Ortiz. “We have to continue working for Christ and share with those who still don’t know a thing about Jesus.”
Ortiz has already organized activities with the 65 children in her church in music festivals, health brigades, and activities in orphanages and nursing homes in her community. “Next year will inspire us to do more and reach more,” Ortiz added.
For Ricardo Barrantes, a church elder and stewardship director at the 250-member Kennedy Adventist Church in Tegucigalpa, watching and listening to news about the eight major events scheduled for 2013 was exciting. “These are wonderful plans and activities, which means we have to work harder and faster to continue serving God and preparing others to meet Jesus,” said Barrantes.
REACHING CHILDREN: Women’s ministries director for the church in Inter-America Cecilia Iglesias (third from left) shares activities planned for women during the coming year during the program. Benjamin Carballo (center) youth ministries director and Dinorah Rivera (right), children’s ministries director wait their turn to share during the online event.Preparing and training others has been taking place in the Chiapas Mexican Union and across Inter-America.
Ignacio Navarro, president for the church in Chiapas, Mexico, stood next to fellow administrators from Inter-America’s church regions in commitment to joining efforts planned for the Year of the Laity.
So far nearly 67,000 laypersons have been trained to witness in the southern part of Mexico, said Navarro. “This online program helped bring about renewed efforts for lay forces in our territory,” he added. The church is planning to hold a massive baptismal ceremony in a 35,000-seat stadium in February as a result of the work of the laity.
It’s about mobilizing laypersons to witness, preach, distribute literature, and do many more activities to reach lost souls during the special Year of the Laity, said Edgar Redondo, president of the church in North Colombia, who added that more than 50,000 passionate lay members have been trained for greater impact.
“These initiatives will only enrich the church, help individual church members to discover their gifts and talents, and focus on sharing about God’s love and grace,” said Redondo.
Already church members in North Colombia have been holding health expos, distributing 200,000 copies of The Great Controversy to authorities, government officials, and entire communities, according to Redondo.
Elsewhere in Inter-America, the church prepares to have a historic Year of the Laity and celebrate victories reached, leaders said.
“Without the laity, the church has no reason for being. So we are certain that God will continue blessing,” said Leito.
For more about the initiatives, and resources for the 2013 Year of the Laity initiatives, visit2013.interamerica.org.