History was made in the North Caribbean Conference when the Seventh-day Adventist Church held its first virtual Ministerial Workers’ Meeting from December 3 - 5, 2020. A typical, in-person meeting usually attracts ministerial workers, from nineteen (19) church districts across the ten-island Conference territory, to gather for worship, glean ministry best practices and receive administrative updates. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual meeting was an amazing time of fellowship and growth for our ministerial interns, Bible workers, pastors, support staff, directors and administrators.
The virtual platform “broke down walls” as workers absorbed amazing spirit-filled devotionals from Dr. James Yansen, Jr., who challenged workers under the theme Leading Through Uncertainty. Using Biblical passages from Old Testament prophets, he encouraged workers to stand tall, “What we see as troubling and troubled times, God is in the midst of it. If we are going to lead through these troubled times, we would need to recognize the signature of God in the midst of earthly uncertainty.”
This Workers’ Meeting surpassed others by kick-starting a critical conversation on moving the North Caribbean Conference (NCC) forward, in an ever-changing context. Departmental Directors hosted inspirational presentations and dialogued with pastors on the strategic initiatives for 2021. Workers shared their burdens, prayed, learned and engaged in open discussion.
The challenge as expressed by the NCC President, Pastor Desmond James, was to take a strategic, yet flexible, approach to ministry. He said, “Pastors must be still, to receive clarity from God on what He’s calling us to do. We must be ready for anything and this begins with intensive prayer and Bible study. Our success includes agile thinking, the ability to consciously shift your thinking when and how the situation requires, and grit, perseverance and passion for long-term goals. There is need for a clear, inspiring purpose driving all facets of ministry.
Pastor Wilmoth James, the NCC Executive Secretary, presented an eye-opening state of the Conference report with statistical snapshots of current reality. He said, “We need to move strategically from here to make the future brighter than the past. We have to intervene now.”
In his final charge to the ministerial workers, Pastor Desmond James said that God often sends storms to redirect us when we forget our assignment to reach those whom we might consider unreachable. He urged workers to aim for a higher standard of ministry, “Let’s pray that we do not drift into the corner of recalcitrance so that God has to send a storm just to bring us back to our senses and back to our assignment. God calls us to lead like Jesus—with kindness, compassion, patience and humility.” This charge and a consecration prayer by Pastor Wilmoth James concluded the three-day meeting.
Although it was difficult to have the usual social activities when the meeting ended, the coordinators compensated with a virtual review of the 2019 Cricket Test Match in the form of friendly rivalry between the ministerial zones; an opportunity to view previously held West Indies Cricket Test Matches and an exciting Kahoot sports quiz.
Feedback from several pastors, during and after the meeting, indicated that the Conference and workers are “finally speaking the same language.” “This is the right kind of dialogue. It should be a continuing dialogue. Thank you to the administration for this,” said Pastor Glendon Cross who serves on St. Thomas. Many ministerial workers agreed that it was a very successful virtual Ministerial Workers’ Meeting.