On Monday, July 29, 2019, the NAD Regional Caucus Meetings, hosted by the Office for Regional Conference Ministry convened. The meetings were held at the newly renovated Louisville Marriott Downtown, just minutes away from the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. It was during these meetings, directed by Elder Dana Edmond, Executive Director of the Regional Conference Ministry Office, that there was a new and historic element added, the Millennial Caucus.
The Millennial Caucus is under the leadership of Dr. Carlton P. Byrd—Speaker/Director of Breath of Life and Jermaine K. Jackson—Chief Financial Officer for the Allegheny West Conference, Chair and Vice Chair of the NexGen Caucus, respectively. The Caucus is comprised of one representative from each of the nine Regional Conferences and one representative from the Pacific Union Conference. A representative from Oakwood University will be later added during the upcoming school year. This group will meet regularly, discussing various relative social topics and propose resolutions to cultivate change, in an effort to build a stronger future for the church. This gives yet another opportunity for conferences to cohesively work together.
“What a privilege and joy for me to participate in the inaugural Millennial Caucus. The future of our church is in great hands! Our young adults are smart, creative, innovative, and most importantly, spiritual.” Dr. Byrd.
During the opening day of the meetings, there was a panel discussion with said caucus, discussing numerous topics, including each representative providing their personal perspective of the state of our church. According to Bro. Jackson, “Each Conference is going through the same struggle, the same experience; the experience of young people not connecting with the older generations.” Jackson also shares, “There is a need to bridge the gap between the generations and what better opportunity to do so than on the caucus level, it’s a great start.”
As the group considered the long-term sustainability of the caucus, it was determined that a name change from Millennial Caucus to NexGen Caucus would more appropriately encompass future generations. This group of young adults made it very clear that they love their church and humbly welcomed the opportunity to become more involved. Improved communication and practical engagement are the strategies that will bridge the gap with this demographic that is conspicuously missing from the church.
Kristopher Jones, Lake Region Conference Representative, shares that he “thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sit around a table with like-minded young adults who are passionate about being agents of change.” He also states, “I salute our current leadership for being willing to take a chance. I believe we won’t let them or the church down.”
Over the course of the initial two days, the NexGen Caucus conducted a SWOT Analysis of the local conference and local church levels. On Wednesday, a presentation was made to the at-large caucus. Dr. Ted N.C. Wilson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, was also in attendance to witness this inaugural presentation. The NexGen caucus was keenly aware that there could be some apprehension regarding the perspective of our church through the vantage point of a younger generation. However, they were hopeful that their group would be recognized as one that adds value and is passionate about furthering the mission. Jasmine Best, South Central Conference Representative, believes that “Our presence is the beginning of a work that will have a lasting, positive outcome benefitting generation after generation.”
“My experience attending the NexGen Caucus meetings was awesome! Being around so many creative, passionate and gifted people from my generation was so inspiring. We’re going to do whatever is in our power to see our church revived,” reflects Nathaniel Drew, Allegheny West Conference Representative.
Overall, during the presentation to the at-large caucus, it was clear that the NexGen team was cohesive, working together in harmony, doing that very thing that the group set out to do—find ways to bridge the gap across generations as individuals come together to influence the long term sustainability of the church. It was a sight to see; the cultivation of a positive atmosphere moving forward.