North American Division News
UPDATED July 9, 2020, 2:07 p.m.
On July 9, 2020, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s General Conference Executive Committee met virtually to receive the name of G. Alexander Bryant, the recommendation for division president, from both the North American Division’s nominating committee and executive committee. Bryant was confirmed in a vote of 153 to 5.
Ted N.C. Wilson, General Conference president and, as policy indicates for the vote of division president, chair of the NAD nominating and executive committees held on July 6 and July 7, said, “I'm looking forward to a renewed focus on the three angels' messages and I believe that Elder Bryant can help lead in that great adventure, because that is what is entrusted to each of us. [He] is a mission-focused individual. He is someone who is a careful listener to people. He will take [these cares] to the Lord and ask for guidance. … I believe that God can use him in a very, very special way.”
“I am first indebted to God for His call to ministry and secondly to those who have poured into my life over the years," said Bryant in response to the vote. “I am deeply humbled by the confidence Elder Wilson, our chair, and the NAD and GC executive committees have placed in me with this assignment. This task is too big for one individual or office. It is abundantly clear to me that it takes all of us working together to advance God's kingdom and I just deeply covet your prayers.”
He added, “I ask for my wife and for myself — that you would continue to lift us up daily as we will you. … Hopefully, by our efforts together, we can hasten the coming of the Lord through our mission work throughout our territory and beyond; and Jesus will come and we can go home.”
Wilson affirmed the decision for NAD president, saying, “Alex, we will place you in prayer — that God will be with you and Desiree and your family as you take up these new responsibilities in a powerful way. … I know he will have a tremendous evangelistic imprint on North America for the future and it'll be a privilege to collaborate with him on that.”
All world division executive officers serve as elected officers of the GC and their nomination and election by the region they represent must be approved by the General Conference Executive Committee. The division's nominating committee is termed a standing committee. It was appointed by the NAD Executive Committee in 2015. During the past five years the nominating committee has recommended the names of individuals to the executive committee for vote in order to fill division vacancies.
Following an outlined process disclosed earlier, the division’s nominating committee met on July 6 and selected the name of Bryant, which was presented and voted on by the NAD Executive Committee on July 7. Bryant’s name was sent as a recommendation to the GC Executive Committee. All meetings were held virtually via Zoom with a previously-used electronic voting process.
Bryant replaces Daniel R. Jackson, who served at the NAD headquarters since his election in June 2010 at the GC Session in Atlanta, Georgia, and reelection in 2015 in San Antonio, Texas, until his retirement on July 1, 2020. The search process for a new executive secretary has begun.
Glenward Alexander (“Alex”) Bryant most recently served as executive secretary of the NAD and associate secretary of the GC, positions he’s held since October 2008 when elected at the GC Annual Council in Manila, Philippines. Bryant was reelected at the 2010 GC Session. While serving as the division’s secretary, Bryant conducted leadership seminars, training and orientation of conference executive officers; organized a division-wide diversity summit; coordinated the digitalization of the NAD Secretariat; and conducted annual evangelistic series.
Before coming to the division, Bryant served as the president of the Central States Conference in Kansas City, Kansas.
Bryant graduated with a double major in Theology and Business Administration from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in 1982.
He began his ministry that same year in Springfield, Missouri, and Coffeyville and Independence, Kansas. In 1986, Bryant was ordained, and he continued his education by earning a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in 1988. The Central States Conference voted Bryant to serve as Youth/Pathfinders/National Service Organization director, Temperance director, and superintendent of Education in 1990. He became president in 1997.
In addition to pastoring several churches early in his career, Bryant also served as a student missionary to Japan for one year. During his college years, Bryant’s administrative abilities helped him serve as the Adventist Youth director at Oakwood College and the Black Students Association of the Seminary (BSAS) president at Andrews University.
Bryant is the second African American elected to serve as NAD president. Charles E. Bradford, the division’s first president, was also African American. Previous division presidents include Alfred C. McClure, Don C. Schneider, and Daniel R. Jackson.
He is married to the former Desiree Wimbish, who served as associate superintendent of Education for the Potomac Conference, superintendent of Education for Central States Conference, as well as former principal of the V. Lindsay Seventh-day Adventist School in Kansas City, Kansas. Desiree currently serves as assistant director and projects coordinator for Adventist Education in the NAD. The Bryants have three adult children and three grandchildren.
Click here for the video interview with Bryant about his education, early years in ministry, and his hopes for his current role as NAD president.kmaran Wed, 07/08/2020 - 16:09
The Paradise, California, community understands the long-lasting recovery of a catastrophic disaster. The Nov. 8, 2018, Camp Fire burned 95 percent of the town. Now, in Paradise and across the nation, the impact of COVID-19 shelter in place is burning through check books and savings.
Millions are unemployed, and many businesses struggle to survive. This crisis is unprecedented, and it will be a long-lasting recovery effort. Without money, bills aren’t paid. Food insecurity is a harsh reality.
But for those in the Paradise area, there is some good news. “The church burned down, but our members are still standing, and meeting the needs of others,” explained Steve Hamilton, senior of the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“We were looking for a way to help our community,” said Joelle Chinnock, church member and director of development and disaster recovery for the Paradise church. She connected with North Valley Community Foundation in Chico, California, and asked for a few ideas. The greatest need in the community was immediate grocery assistance.
Chinnock called several supermarkets. She found Holiday Market. “They were willing to act as a personal shopper, but had no way to deliver,” she said. “We could deliver! And the Love, Delivers program* was born.” Church members delivered food to the door with masks and a six-foot distance — 40 boxes in three weeks.
The stories are heartbreaking. “My refrigerator is empty. I really need milk for my kids and meats for dinners, etc. My savings has run out and we are in desperate need. Calfresh said they can only give me $14 a month for food,” shared one family.
Another said, “Due to shelter in place, my husband isn’t working. We are struggling financially and it’s difficult to provide food and other basic needs.”
“We are living on one salary,” added another family. “There are six of us and we are constantly in need of supplies. Mostly need eggs, oatmeal, bread, and butter. We also help feed other families several days a week. Fresh produce would be good, too.”
There must be a way to help more people, thought members of the Paradise church.
It Takes a Community
Food pantries stock shelf-stable products and donations of the day from grocery stores and other sources. Perishable foods require cool storage, which is in short supply in food pantries.
Shortly after shelter in place began, Glenna Eady, a case manager for Adventist Health, approached Chinnock to join forces to address food insecurity in the Paradise community. The goal was a fresh produce pantry. The project started with an education.
The Paradise church group contacted the four food pantries in Paradise to learn how they worked. Each opened one day a week and was operated by a community church. There were five essential resources to start a food pantry: money, reliable sources for food, a permanent location, a communication network, and committed volunteers. Adding fresh produce would require refrigeration.
Chinnock started at step one — money. Chinnock received $15,000 from three grants and a $30,000 donation from Adventist Health. Eady explored refrigeration from Adventist Health. Communication on Facebook, email, and texts was already in place. With shelter in place, a permanent location, sources of food and committed volunteers, a fresh food pantry seemed impossible.
Now, their work was to wait on God.
Feeding God’s Community
The phone call came on Thursday morning, May 28. When Garrison Chaffee, associate pastor, answered, a familiar voice said, “I have 1,400 pounds of fresh produce in 20-lbs. boxes available for pick-up next Tuesday. It’s free and I will deliver it. Could your church give some of these out to your community?” asked Keith Jacobson, senior pastor of the Sacramento Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church.
His mission is for Adventist churches to help feed their communities. Jacobson has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a source of fresh produce.
His call was perfect timing. God works that way.
On Tuesday, June 2, volunteers unloaded much more — 5,760 lbs. of fresh produce arrived. The produce was distributed in 20-lbs. boxes to each family as cars filled the empty church parking lot and spilled into the street. In four hours, 290 boxes were given away. The surplus was sent to their neighbors — when there is surplus, the produce is also shared with the four church pantries.
“Oh, I am so happy! The world needs more nice people like you. Acts of random kindness rarely happen. [I] thank the Seventh-day Church!” said recipient Tracy Periman.
“In order to rebuild our community, we must work together. This is just another opportunity that God has given us to reach out, serve our community, and build strong ties within the body of Christ,” Chinnock said.
“Our experience is that when we help the hurting, get involved and give back, our pain begins to heal. We survive together,” Hamilton added.
* Love, Delivers is part of Love, Paradise, a community ministry sponsored by the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church. You can find more information at loveparadise.net.
Did You Know?
Data gathered by Caron Oswald
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Food insecurity occurs when a household has difficulty providing enough food due to lack of resources for a healthy and active lifestyle. Almost every community in the country is home to families who struggle with food insecurity, including rural and suburban communities.
In 2018, 14.3 million American households, about 37 million people, were food insecure with limited or uncertain access to enough food including more than 11 million children. In April 2020, food insecurity ranged from 22-38 percent, including more than 18 million children. Mothers with children 12 and under have the highest percentage level since 2001. More than one in five households in the U.S., and two in five households with mothers with children 12 years and under, are experiencing food insecurity.
Many families do not qualify for federal nutrition programs. It’s a perfect storm — food demands are soaring, supplies plunging and volunteers plummeting.
What Can You Do?
Be informed about your community.
Call or email your local food bank and pantries for facts and needs.
Call your conference to learn what Adventist Community Services programs are near you.
Get involved: donate, do a food drive, volunteer.
51 percent of food programs rely on volunteers for sorting and packing and, with shelter-in-place restrictions, about 70 percent new volunteers are needed — a great family outreach.
Remember, those who struggle with enough food may be the family in the church pew, a neighbor, a work colleague, and everyday strangers.
— Caron Oswald writes from McDonald, Tennessee.kmaran Wed, 07/08/2020 - 12:04
Unity. Justice. Community. Peace.
That’s what the demonstration on June 3, 2020, in Los Angeles, California, was all about as about 300 people gathered to pray, march, and connect. It was the first time Southern California Conference (SCC) churches organized such an event with a diverse group in every sense of the word: age, gender, ethnicity, and more. One member of the group, Wilma, a member of the Antelope Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, had even marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was 17. “The conviction of people to be as involved as possible really ran deep throughout the whole crowd,” shared Donavan Childs, associate pastor at Los Angeles University Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Morris Barnes, senior pastor of the Antelope Valley church, and Lawrence Dorsey, senior pastor of the University church, teamed up to bring this idea to life. The midweek event came together in the span of just two days, although from Childs’s perspective, “It was literally overnight. When God’s moving, He makes it happen.”
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County helped to get the word out around the city. University of Southern California provided lunch, California Highway Patrol provided security, a local Honda dealer gave participants water and loaned vehicles for shuttles, the Los Angeles Police Department Southwest Division marched with the group and helped block traffic, and many others contributed. “The Lord was in this thing; that’s the only way it could come about the way it did with unity, enthusiasm, and support,” said Dorsey.
“The philosophy behind it was to have an Adventist Christian demonstration that promoted peace and justice,” Childs explained. The march began at the steps of the University church and ended at the California African American museum, where various Adventist leaders and other clergy, plus leaders from around the city and the community, addressed those gathered.
The moment he became aware of the event, SCC president Velino Salazar committed himself to participate. “As conference president, I think that we need to walk the talk,” he said. “What would Jesus do in this 21st century? Always He was focused on the needs of the people and justice. As conference president, I need to follow the model of Jesus Christ when we encounter oppression, discrimination, and injustice.”
Participants wore custom shirts with “seek justice” printed on the front, based on Isaiah 1:17, and “Adventists for Black Lives Matter” on the back. The shirts represented another miracle; they were meant for a prayer walk two days later, but production was accelerated just in time for the Los Angeles demonstration. Many carried signs: “God’s voice matters.”
Reflecting on the event, many participants spoke about this as an important first step. “I consider that we as a church need to have more interest in social issues without losing the essence of the gospel within the context and frame of the three angels’ messages,” Salazar said.
“It was tremendous; it was something to experience,” Royal Harrison, SCC Greater Los Angeles region director, said of the event. “We’ve got to be more community involved if we’re going to make an impact for the kingdom.” The theme of community involvement was consistent among comments from the participants and leaders.
As Barnes put it, “If the church is not the voice of the community, no one else will be.”
This event was just a start. At the rally, Donavan and Dorsey promised attendees that open forums would be presented in the future by the church, encouraging conversation with the community. “I think it’s important for us as Christians to understand that this is part of representing the gospel,” Donavan noted. “It’s part of having a missional existence. I hope the long-term impact is that we actualize that term: to be in the world but not of the world.”
Speaking about how our commitment to the truth relates to injustice, Greg Hoenes, SCC West Region director, said, “Humility has to always be the lens through which we see the truth.”
Virgil Childs, Pacific Union Conference regional ministries director, closed the event with prayer. Of our collective response to injustice, he said, “It is an ecumenical response to what’s wrong and to protest — not just against what’s wrong, but to protest for what’s right.”
— Lauren Lacson is communication director of the Southern California Conference.kmaran Wed, 07/08/2020 - 09:50
After 14 weeks of online classes, isolation, and cancellation of their traditional commencement weekend due to COVID-19, La Sierra University’s graduates were eager for a way to safely gather and celebrate before the rescheduled ceremony, which will take place on Sept. 13, a week before the start of fall classes.
On June 21, they had just such an opportunity with the “Drive-Through Celebration” organized by the university to take place on the day the seniors would have graduated during a formal commencement service.
For more than two hours beginning at 8:30 a.m., nearly 200 grads with their families and friends paraded in their vehicles on a guided route throughout the school’s campus. They had the opportunity to pause for a portrait photograph in front of the university’s central fountain with surrounding congratulations banners before exiting the campus. Faculty, staff and students, all with face masks in place, lined the roadside and grassy median, waved congratulatory signs, and cheered them on.
The parade began at the front entrance kiosk where university president Joy Fehr, assisted by interim provost Cindy Parkhurst, provided each graduate with a bag holding a mortarboard and tassel, which they could don for their photo. Other gifts at kiosks scattered along the route included a face mask with a La Sierra logo, a sticker of university mascot “Eko,” an alumni license plate holder, and a 2019-2020 yearbook.
Many graduatess decorated their cars with bright lettering, balloons, signs, and other graduation trimmings, and brought along family members or friends to join in the fun.
“I think with everything that's been going on, this is the best way I can imagine celebrating with the people who helped me get here, from friends to family to people I've met at the school,” said Kyrsti Photias, a psychology major and exercise science minor from La Quinta, California. “It's so cool seeing other graduates celebrate with the people who matter to them too. It’s so different from sitting in a stadium or underneath tarps … but it’s no less special at all.”
Vinh Nguyen, pastor of the El Monte Vietnamese Seventh-day Adventist Church and also the father of graduate Timothy Nguyen, drove his family through the parade route as his son waved from the front passenger seat. “I am so proud my son graduated from here. I’m excited to see it,” said Nguyen. “It’s an awesome experience,” added Timothy, a biomedical sciences major aiming for a career in nursing. “I’m glad they did this. I’m glad for the school’s support.”
Many graduates described the Drive Through Celebration as an “amazing” experience and a meaningful event as they move on to other chapters in their lives.
“The drive-through graduation was so much fun. It was a blast seeing my professors and the athletic department cheering me on,” said sociology graduate Kiana Krumm. Last month, the California Pacific Conference, of which La Sierra’s Golden Eagles volleyball teams are members, voted Krumm as the recipient of the Dr. Jim Davies Award as the 2019-2020 "Female Scholar Athlete of the Year." Going forward, she plans to play volleyball abroad while contemplating master’s programs.
“I drove through with my parents and my best friend since I was five years old. She was the DJ and blew bubbles while we danced together in the back. The overall experience was so exciting, and I am so happy to have been a part of it,” said Krumm.
Celebration and Pride
For La Sierra faculty and staff, the morning’s event created an opportunity for them to feel a special sense of pride, connection, and community.
“We’ve overcome all these obstacles and we’re living in this [unique] moment in time. This helped bring out the spirit of celebration,” said Ken Crane, associate professor and chair of the history, politics and sociology department.
“Seeing them in person, even though I was wearing a mask and they were in vehicles, reminded me of why we do what we do at La Sierra,” said Fehr. “[We] provide the foundation upon which our graduates can positively change their and our worlds. The excitement on their faces and the pride in their families’ faces made all the challenges of these past three-and-a-half months responding to COVID-19 worth it. I am so proud of each graduate. Each one is truly extraordinary.”
About La Sierra University
La Sierra University, a Christian Seventh-day Adventist institution nationally acclaimed for its diverse campus and its service to others, offers a transformational experience that lasts a lifetime. “To Seek, To Know, and To Serve” is the key to the mission that drives La Sierra University, with all areas of campus encouraging students to develop a deeper relationship with God.
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination established La Sierra University in 1922 on acreage formerly part of the Rancho La Sierra Mexican land grant. Today the 150-acre campus provides more than 120 bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees for 2,200 students. Programs are offered in the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, the School of Education, the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Evening Adult Degree Program.mylonmedley Tue, 07/07/2020 - 18:12