As is the case everywhere and with everyone, the Regional Conferences have been dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. All Regional Conference offices, churches and schools are closed. The coronavirus even struck the office of the largest Regional Conference-Northeastern Conference President, Dr. Daniel Honore informed his constituency on March 26 that he had contracted the coronavirus. We continue to lift our petitions Godward on his behalf.
But even though Regional Conference churches are not meeting, the work of God is still moving. As shared in the 2 part blog on this website –“Opportunity in Adversity”, the coronavirus-while shutting down our institutions-it has opened up the creative energies of those entities. All kinds of creative ministry is being done in Regional Conferences-things that might well have never been done; yea, never even thought of-were it not for the coronavirus.
The Regional Conference Presidents Council meets every Tuesday morning, at 11:00 a.m., Central Time. It is made up of the 9 Regional Conference Presidents-Elder William L. Winston, President, South Atlantic Conference and President of the Presidents Council, Dr. William T. Cox, President, Allegheny West; Dr. R. Clifford Jones, President, Lake Region; Dr. Daniel Honore, President, Northeastern; Elder Henry Fordham, President Allegheny East; Elder Benjamin Jones, Jr., President, South Central; Elder Gregory Mack, President, Southeastern; Elder Calvin Watkins, President, Southwest Region; Elder Roger Bernard, President, Central States; Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, President, Oakwood University and the two West Coast Union Vice Presidents-Elders Virgil Childs, Pacific Union and Byron Dulan, North Pacific Union (Dr. Carlton P. Byrd, Speaker-Director, Breath of Life Television Ministries and Attorney Carmela Monk Crawford, Editor, Message Magazine, are invitees to Presidents Council).
Under normal circumstances, Presidents Council meets the first Tuesday of each month. But it was decided that events were moving so rapidly that weekly meetings were necessary.
At these meetings, the Presidents share information, ideas and best practices. Each Conference President gives a weekly report on what is going on in their conference. Among the creative ministry ideas that are being done in Regional Conferences that have been shared at these meetings are:
Conference wide on-line Sabbath worship services
Friday night fireside chats by the Conference President
Drive-in worship services from the parking lot of churches
Young people doing grocery shopping for seniors and leaving the groceries and change at the door
On-line Executive Committee meetings
A virtual evangelistic meeting, where an individual took a virtual stand to accept Jesus
A virtual communion service
These meetings have spawned similar meetings. The Regional Conference Treasurers also meet weekly-on Thursday afternoons. The Regional Conference Secretaries (or Vice Presidents) meet monthly, as do the Regional Conference Communication Directors-so that the story that corona has not crippled Regional Conferences will be told.
With the exception of the Regional Treasurers meeting, all of the aforementioned meetings are convened and coordinated by the Office of Regional Conference Ministries (ORCM). Next week, ORCM meets with Black Adventist Youth Director Association Chair (BAYDA), Elder Patrick Graham, Youth Director, Allegheny East, to address online ministry for children and youth. Some churches and conferences are already providing online children/youth ministry but the idea is to provide parents with a list of all the available online ministry options for their children.
Additionally, ORCM is striving to work with the Regional Conferences to find ways to provide ministry options for those who are not online. There was a recent conversation with a member who was not online and who therefore was gathering with 2-3 other members in her home on Sabbaths-a good idea in normal times but not a good idea now-especially since the “gatherers” were all senior citizens.
The goal is-to borrow a phrase-“No member left behind”, as it relates to being ministered to in these unprecedented times.
In summary, the work of God’s church continues-despite corona. “His truth is marching on”. Regional Conferences are still moving even if our churches are not meeting.