God has been faithful to His promise of being with us and guiding us as we carry out the mission of hope and wholeness. As we look back at 2018, we can identify the progress made by Atlantic Union Conference in spite of its challenges.
At the onset of 2018, we were faced with the stark reality that the survival of Atlantic Union College was in doubt. The college did not get its long-awaited accreditation, the student population was far below expectation, and at the same time, the college had to maintain a faculty and staff to ensure coverage for the various areas of discipline.
The Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee commissioned a feasibility study, during which time some of the supporting conferences stopped, threatened to stop, or reduced the subsidy sent to the college. After the completion of the study, the recommendations of the committee were brought to a special constituency meeting of the college. It was decided that the college would suspend the academic program of the institution at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. This was a painful decision, but the institution had to face these realities.
The Atlantic Union had four conference constituency sessions in 2018: New York Conference in April, Greater New York Conference in June, Bermuda Conference in September, and Northern New England Conference in October. These sessions were well conducted, and we pray that the work of the Lord will continue in each conference.
In 2019, the Atlantic Union will move forward boldly with hope and optimism. Some of the issues in our worldwide church that we continue to grapple with include the role and function of women in ministry and unity amidst diversity. While focusing on the mission God has given the remnant church, the Atlantic Union must set its priorities and work assiduously to achieve them. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the total involvement of clergy and laity, we will become fully engaged in the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14.
There are many crises in this world which we cannot escape. How we navigate them will determine how we make a meaningful impact on the world around us. Let us not expect the people to come to us, but rather meet them where they are and minister to their needs. Ellen G. White said it clearly, “A new element needs to be brought into the work. God’s people must receive the warning, and work for souls right where they are, for people do not realize their great need and peril. Christ sought the people where they were, and placed before them the great truths in regard to His kingdom”—Medical Ministry, p. 319.
How do we address these challenges facing us today? We need to have a renewed perspective of the mission for which God has called us. While not necessarily using the traditional approach, we must assess where people are and provide practical solutions that will address their needs. People around us are hurting; many are confused, not knowing where to turn for help. Let us provide the source of help for our neighbors. The Lord said, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”—Isaiah 43:19, NKJV.
Our God is the God of the impossible. May we put our trust and confidence in Him to direct our path.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.
This editorial first appeared in the January 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 3.