The Office for Regional Conference Ministry has begun a study of the dynamics for growing African-American Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the United States. This study began back in the fall of last year when the Executive Director of the Office for Regional Conference Ministry, Elder Dana C. Edmond, asked each of the nine Regional Conference Presidents and the two West Coast Vice Presidents to provide two churches in their respective conferences (in the case of the West Coast Vice Presidents, they were asked to provide two churches in their respective unions) who were growing numerically, financially and impacting their communities.
For a church to be designated as a growing church by the African-American leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is significant, as it means being selected as one of twenty-two churches, out of approximately 1,300 African-American Seventh-day Adventist Churches.
The idea was to study each of these churches and to see if there any common contributing factors to their growth, and if there were common contributing factors-what are they? The results of this study would then be passed on to the Regional Presidents/West Coast Vice Presidents and then shared at the Pastoral Evangelism and Leadership Council (PELC) by Elder Edmond as part of his annual “State of the Regional Conferences” Report.
While this report would be more anecdotal than scientific, it would give Pastors and Administrators information that is not currently available about churches that are growing and some of the reasons for that growth.
The plan is for Elder Edmond to visit each of the twenty-two churches individually over approximately a two year period for the purpose of personally observing their worship services and interviewing the Pastor and his staff (in the cases where there is conference-employed staff other than the Senior Pastor). Additionally, each church is asked to provide membership and financial data, such as tithe, local giving, baptisms, etc.
The first interview was with Elder Corey Jackson, the former Pastor of the Detroit Burns Avenue Church, who subsequently accepted a call to the South Central Conference. The interview was in Nashville; there will be a subsequent visit to Burns. That was followed by a visit to the Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church, in the Southeastern California Conference. Elder Edmond had the opportunity to observe the Youth and Adult Sabbath Schools, the church’s Hospitality/Greeter Ministry (which on that Sabbath included a warm welcome by the Pathfinder Club and breakfast) and Divine Worship.
After Divine Worship, Elder Edmond had a lively, informative and interesting two hour interview with the Mt. Rubidoux Pastoral Staff, which currently consists of Senior Pastor, Michael Kelly, and Associate Pastors Baron Sovory and Rebecca Davis.
The next Sabbath, January 5, Elder Edmond visited the South Park SDA Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Elder Edmond had the opportunity to personally observe the considerable growth that God has given to that church under the leadership of Elder Michael Lewis. A follow-up call was made to Elder Lewis, who filled out a questionnaire that gave additional information.
Here are the twenty-two churches that have been designated as growing churches by the respective Regional Conference Presidents/West Coast Vice Presidents (an asterisk is listed next to the churches that are scheduled to be visited in 2019):
Metropolitan (both churches are in the Washington D.C. area)
Temple of Praise
Grace Community (both are in the Cleveland area)
Kansas City Linwood
Wichita New Beginnings
Chicago Shiloh *
Detroit Burns Avenue
Temple Salem (Boston area)
New Dimension (New York City area)
Atlanta West End*
Birmingham South Park *
Huntsville First Church
Pisgah (both are in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/South Florida area)
Riverside Mt. Rubidoux *
Sacramento Capitol City
Tacoma Mt. Tahoma