Preparing Leaders for the Challenges Ahead

In an attempt to forge a united path going forward, the administration of the Atlantic Union Conference organized a retreat and strategic planning session for its boards, committees, and directors, under the leadership of Paul Brantley, North American Division vice president for strategic planning, and Calvin Rock, former General Conference vice president. They were assisted by Dan Day, North American Division director of special projects; and Minner Labrador, Southwestern Union Conference vice president for ministries, who is also responsible for strategic planning. These dedicated men helped our team navigate its way through the process of developing a progressive strategic plan for the Atlantic Union.

Rock’s emphasis for the weekend was on proper board governance. We were also blessed with daily devotionals from our six conference presidents, along with presentations from three other participants. Kenneth Manders, Bermuda Conference president, gave our first devotional noting that we have the opportunity to become “Game Changers.” Rosemary Tyrrell, former Atlantic Union education director, emphasized that our mission needs to be viewed in the context of the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Petrice Wideman, president of Wideman Cultural Consulting, made a presentation which helped us to appreciate our diversity by looking at cross-cultural competence. Henry Beras, Greater New York Conference president, encouraged us to recognize the distractions that come with every great work that we undertake, since there is always a “Sanballat” lurking along every path toward greatness.

Elias Zabala, Sr., Atlantic Union Conference treasurer, led a panel discussion about funding the mission. It was emphasized that our mission defines our success. God’s work will never lack provision, and although something may be challenging, it is not an indication that it’s not worthwhile.

Daniel Honoré, Northeastern Conference president, pointed out that throughout the ages there have been many leaders, but in these last days, considering the enormity of the mission, “the real leader” needs to stand up. Bob Cundiff, Northern New England Conference president, stated that, similar to completing the Ironman Triathlon, we may face struggles in accomplishing our mission, but we must persist and be fueled by the Spirit of God to successfully reach home. David Dennis, Southern New England Conference president, reminded us that in the gospel of Jesus Christ all people are welcomed—one person at a time. Miguel Crespo, New York Conference president, challenged our thinking that if we believe that Jesus is coming soon, we are to execute our responsibility as if we are the last person in that specific leadership role. Avis Hendrickson, Atlantic Union College president, reminded us that the Atlantic Union Conference is God’s mission in action, and Atlantic Union College is an integral part of that mission.

On Sabbath morning, Rock emphasized the need for unity within diversity. He pointed out that through the dynamics of human interactions we must pay attention to “one-another-ness,” which will enhance our sensitivity toward social injustice, even within our churches.

The retreat ended with a tentative mission statement for the union: “The Atlantic Union will support and facilitate the six conferences in reaching the people within their territory with the Christ-centered message of hope and wholeness.”

The Atlantic Union is poised to accomplish great things for God. The task before us may seem daunting, especially when we consider the diversity of our union. However, this is an opportunity for us to reach the many and varied people groups within our territory and beyond. We are longing for a new Pentecostal experience in which the power of the Holy Spirit will be manifested throughout our union. Please join us in prayer as we ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit to empower us to fulfill His mission for this union.

G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.