Constituents from the Wisconsin Conference met at Wisconsin Academy Church Sunday morning, October 7, 2018, worshiping God together before conducting the business of the day.
Worship began with congregational hymn singing led by Bruce Rasmussen, Wisconsin Academy music director, and the academy choir performing, “Now Sing We Joyfully Unto God.” Mike Edge, Wisconsin Conference President shared a devotional emphasizing that each of us are called to be the hands of Jesus, connecting people to Christ through our personal touch.
With a church full of about 270 delegates, the business of the day began. President Mike Edge shared a video presentation of who we are as the Wisconsin Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which may be viewed on the Conference website, wi.adventist.org. Then Elder Edge highlighted our constituency which is made up of 63 churches, 13 companies and 24 mission groups & plants. These include 7 Spanish churches, 5 Spanish companies, and a growing number of Spanish mission groups. Recently two Hmong companies and two Karen language groups have also begun. In the past four years 738 people have become a part of the Wisconsin Conference through baptism and profession of faith, bringing our membership number to 7,753.
Our Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Brian Stephan shared that our conference continues to grow through baptisms, professions of faith and transfers in. When other factors, such as deaths, apostasies, and transfers out of the conference, are taken into account, our conference has grown by 228 members during the past four years. Stephan also reported that while the conference continues to be challenged financially, members continue to be faithful in returning tithes and offerings. Over the four years tithe has increased by 9.41% and members have donated $1,224,725 to the Wisconsin budget. Rising expenses have kept pace with increased income, as God continues to provide needed funds to keep our conference solid and growing.
Elder Valentine, Lake Union President, gave a brief introduction to the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and the process of selecting leaders of conferences.He also chaired in the election of our conference leadership. All seven, who were recommended by the nominating committee, were reelected by the delegates in session with strong support. These included Mike Edge, president; Brian Stephan; executive secretary/treasurer; Adam Case, ministerial director; Linda Rosen, education superintendent; Juanita Edge, communication director; Cindy Stephan, planned giving and trust director; and Eric Chavez, youth director.
Other items addressed in the session included: voting two churches that were organized in the past four years, and some wording change in the bylaws for the sake of clarity. The changes were adopted with strong support. Joseph Njau, General Conference auditor, indicated that audits had been done and the conference received a “clean audit” in its policy and financial management.
An update on Wisconsin Academy, was given by Principal Rosalie Rasmussen. Enrollment at the academy is growing and currently is at 72. The school continues its strong spiritual emphasis with four weeks of prayer each year. Also, the student success center offers personalized help for those struggling academically, and is proving quite successful in strengthening student academics. She also shared that the dedicated faculty and staff are committed to Wisconsin Academy’s mission of preparing students to be productive citizens in the near future, and for an eternity with Jesus.
An update on the Lighthouse Thrift Store was given by manager Jim Parish of thrift store becoming a beacon of hope for many in our community, providing much needed food, clothing, and outreach classes
The final report was a look to the future by President Mike Edge. Delegates voted overwhelmingly to adopt the mission and goals for the next four years, entitled Connecting to Serve. Three initiatives were included in the report: Cross-Connect, a focus on training for service cross-generationally; Education-Connect, highlighting our need to lead school-age young people to be trained for service; and Community-Connect, challenging members across the conference to serve their communities, building relationships and leading them to Christ.
The full report can be viewed at wi.adventist.org.
In closing, President Mike Edge challenged us each to not only prepare ourselves to be ready for heaven, but also lead neighbors and friends in our communities to an eternal connection with Jesus.
Juanita Edge, Communication Director