The North American territory has 820 Asian-Pacific churches and congregations.
Pastors from across the United States, Canada, Guam-Micronesia, and Bermuda gathered in Ontario, California, from May 13 to 16, 2019, for the North American Division (NAD) Asian-Pacific Pastors’ Convention. About 400 pastors and spouses registered for the event.
“The convention brought our pastors a renewed passion for the study of the Bible and helped them embrace the relevance of planting and growing healthy churches,” said VicLouis Arreola, director of Asian-Pacific Ministries for both the NAD and the Pacific Union Conference church regions. “This gathering was an upper-room experience that prepared them to meet the challenges of these end times and finishing the work.”
“It was a wonderful experience to bring the [pastoral] team together,” said Tony Anobile, NAD vice president for Multilingual Ministries. “The speakers were focusing on the journey that pastors have and their relationship with Jesus. [Arreola] and [his team] brought in people to provide training seminars and education on how to better their personal life, their ministries, and their families. The event showed that, in the NAD, there is diversity but also unity of purpose and spirit.”
According to Arreola, this is the third NAD-wide Asian-Pacific pastors’ convention to be hosted. As the host of conventions in years past, the Pacific Union extended invitations to other unions. Now, NAD Asian-Pacific conventions bring Asian-Pacific pastors together once every three years, and Pacific Union conventions continue to be hosted yearly.
For Arreola and his team, who work to provide this opportunity for those in ministry, the NAD convention is a time to celebrate the diversity of and ministry to 33 different cultural language groups. The convention is also an opportunity for the Asian-language advisories to meet, plan, and renew their mission and vision for reaching the communities in this division.
“One of the goals of having this convention is to gather the pastors in the North American Division and fellowship together,” said Bernard Castillo, executive assistant for Asian-Pacific Ministries in the Pacific Union, “as well as continuing education for all the pastors.”
Pastors who attend the convention earn five continuing education units through attendance at various sessions hosted by professors from Andrews University Theological Seminary and the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, as well as other guest presenters. Pastors attended courses on New Testament theology, Old Testament theology, archaeology, pastoral care and counseling, systematic theology, and church growth and evangelism. Course curricula included Seventh-day Adventist foundational studies, interpersonal ministry, outreach in the community, applied pastoral skills, and concepts of church growth.
Sessions were also offered for the spouses of pastors and were coordinated by Imelda Arreola. Topics by guest presenters included, “How to Thrive in the Journey of Ministry,” “Serving with My Spiritual Gifts,” and “The Pastor’s Wife and Healthy Self-Worth.”
This year’s convention was themed “Redeeming the Time.” Guest speakers included NAD president Dan Jackson, Pacific Union Conference president Ricardo Graham, and Loma Linda University Church senior pastor Randy Roberts.
Pastors in attendance represented many of the 820 Asian-Pacific churches across the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Guam-Micronesia. For these pastors, the fellowship, continuing education, and time for spiritual renewal make these conventions both a professionally and spiritually significant event.
“The reality in North America is that minority groups are going to continue to grow. I’m grateful to Vic for coordinating this event, and for his commitment to continued [ministry] growth,” Anobile said. “At the NAD, our commitment is to support the growth of immigrant and refugee ministries in North America in any way we can.”