The Executive Committee was opened with prayer by David Rawls, then Ken Denslow, our new Lake Union President was introduced and presented our morning devotional.
President Denslow shared a story illustrating the importance of immersing ourselves in the Bible. Not only to get the facts right, or to satisfy a thirst for knowledge, but to know the Living Word, Jesus Christ. He emphasized that we must study the Bible as a means of learning to abide in Him, so He can help us witness for Him through tough situations.
President Denslow then shared a bit of his perspective and vision for our Lake Union “This is a historic Union,” he said. “This is where our Adventist Church began.” He then shared some staggering numbers of churches in the North American Division that have plateaued, or are dying. “We have to address this,” said Denslow. “God has called us to grow the church, not watch it die”
He shared that half of the population in our Union live in four metropolitan areas. “That’s where the people are, and we need to address that,” continued Denslow. “Not to abandon the smaller towns, but we have to step up our mission for where the masses are.”
Denslow reminded us that our job as a church is not to grow congregations – they are a byproduct. We are called to take our unique message to every man, woman, and child in our territories. “Have we covered the territory God has given us,” asked Denslow? “ We have a special message and need to make meaningful contact in reaching all in our territories.”
In conclusion he told us our Union has adopted the North American Division theme of, “Together in Mission / I Will Go.”
Next, Wisconsin Conference President, Titus Naftanaila, shared some of the activities and responsibilities of his first year as president. “You may dream of being a conference president,” Titus shared, “But if you become one, it is a humbling experience.” Titus self identifies as a “pastor president.” He enjoys receiving and giving support among mentors and colleagues, and feels strongly that team matters. He has shared 36 Sabbath morning sermons in congregations across Wisconsin this year, and highly values the time spent connecting with members.
He then reminded us of our conference mission, vision, core values and goals:
Mission: To grow passionate disciples of Jesus, prepared for Christ’s soon coming
Vision: Reflecting Christ: Transforming Communities
Core Values: God’s Word, His people, and His charge to share the gospel
Goals: Church, Education, Cross and Community Connect
Recent conference and church activities and baptisms were highlighted by President Naftanaila, as were some challenges and goals such as the need for church revitalization and spiritual growth, how to help the new generation become leaders now, and how to increase our employee retention.
Voted several membership transfers in. There have been several baptisms and joining by profession of faith in our Hispanic Companies.
Voted 32 names of individuals to be delegates at the Lake Union Constituency Session happening in May of 2022.
Executive Secretary/Treasurer Brian Stephen, shared the October statement. We have a 9% tithe increase from this month last year, and a year to date increase of 6.63%. The Wisconsin Budget is enjoying a 7% increase this year over last, and our expenses are down a bit this year. Bottom line is we are well within budget, and if this holds through the end of the year we can put a little more money in our needy reserve funds.
Brian said we are hoping to get our conference salaries back up to the pay scale. Right now we are 1 ½% behind the church’s recommendation. If we match other conferences, this could help retention of employees.
Voted to accept October financial report.
Ministerial Director Adam Case reported we currently have seven lay pastors serving in our conference. While lay pastors take direct pastor leadership in the churches where they serve, they are working under the direction of a district pastor employee. “I don’t think these lay pastors realize what a blessing they are,“ said Adam. “It is a blessing to work with them and provide support for them.” Current lay pastors and their churches are:
Eric Anderson, Wautoma Company
Dan Anderson, Hudson Company
George Andrews, Kenosha Company
Thom Foll, Watertown Church
Jim Lynaugh, Oakland Church
David Radlinger, Neillsville Company
Jeff Veldman, Oxford Church
Adam shared briefly regarding the current and possible future impact of COVID in our churches, and that on December 6 the Lake Union is holding a meeting to discuss the current issues and possible impact. He also shared some preliminary evangelism plans for 2022 as well as continuing education opportunities for pastors.
Adam reported that baptisms are up: 173 new members have joined the church in Wisconsin so far for this year. If the average continues through December we will have the highest baptism rate in Wisconsin since 2016.
Youth Director Zack Payne shared his vision to update and consolidate the various Wisconsin youth ministries under one heading, bringing them together as one focus on evangelism.
He also introduced some changes to bring more mission and focus to both summer camp and camp meeting.
Public Campus Ministries now has a new coordinator, Joshua Guerrero.
There will be a Lake Union Youth Congress February 18-20 in Shipshewana, Indiana. Zack is looking to bring 100 young people from Wisconsin to this congress.
Zack also told us we now have a state Pathfinder Master Guide Club at Wisconsin Academy. The initial meeting brought 12-15 interested young people plus several adults. The name is the WA YACHT Club. YACHT is an acronym for Young Adults Can Handle This!
Plans are also underway for the 2024 Pathfinder Camporee, “Believe the Promise.”
Wisconsin Academy Principal Rosalee Rasmussen shared pictures of Senior Dedication, where several seniors preached short sermonettes for church. Each gave insights into the meaning of the class text: Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” These messages were the highlight of a great Senior Dedication weekend.
God has blessed the academy with good students. There are of course discipline issues that come up and have to be dealt with, and the school asks for your prayers for wisdom as they address them. They praise the Lord for no reports of COVID outbreaks from Alumni weekend.
Juanita Ege, Communication Director
Pictures by Laurella Case, Admin. Assist. for Communications