“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, NKJV, emphasis added).
“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest” (Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 10, emphasis added).
As the inspired words cited above declare to us, the gospel work is to be conducted through the organized efforts of God’s people acting in harmony and in concert with one another. Therefore, the imperative of sharing the love of the soon-returning Savior Jesus Christ to this world is the single motivator for all the work of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The members, pastors, chaplains, educators, and administrators in the seven conferences of this territory awaken each morning with an eye toward what we often call “a finished work.” Of course, that work will only be completed through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. Therefore, we pray each day to be instruments in the hands of our Heavenly Father to reach the hearts and minds of our family, friends, and community.
It is an impossible task to represent in a brief narrative such as this the unending sacrifice and tremendous commitment of the leaders and members of our union. The charts that accompany this report are but a shadow of the flesh and blood reality of what was required to be faithful to the missionary task before us in our territory. While this report comprises the time span of 2016 to 2021, the work in our field is really divided by the reality of 2020. At no time in recent memory has the devotion of our people been more tested and tried than by the scourge of the pandemic of COVID-19 that struck our nation in 2020 and continues in its effects today.
From the time of stay-at-home orders in March 2020 to now, our church and school programs have been stretched and pulled to the breaking point as they continue to carry out their calling to minister and serve those in their care. This work is being accomplished because of the passion, talent, and spiritual commitment of extraordinary teachers, pastors, members, and conference leaders. Children and young adults are receiving school instruction, sermons and Bible studies are presented, and spiritual care is being provided through new and innovative means all around this union. We do not know how the next chapters of ministry and education will be written. But we do know with certainty that there is One who promises that as we minister in His name that we are not alone. We have His wonderful promise, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV).
Church statistics are representatives of the stories of faith lived out by real people in the Pacific Union Conference. These are lives that have been blessed as they join God’s remnant church, disruptions as they move into or out of our territory, sorrow as loved ones are laid to their rest, and disappointments as those who once professed faith no longer do so. Each of our union’s 220,791 church members (Chart 1) is precious to the Lord and a witness to the work of God being done in our midst.
We can rejoice with the 22,487 decisions for baptism that have occurred during the previous five years (Chart 2) as well as those who have moved to our territory and joined a local congregation (Chart 2). Yet we also note that more Seventh-day Adventist members have left the Pacific Union field and joined churches in new homes. These factors are part of understanding the overall membership profile of this union.
Successful ministry in the Pacific Union Conference comes from the people and those that lead them. One indicator of that success in our eyes is the diversity of our field. Revelation 14:6 declares: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (NKJV, emphasis added). It is with joy that we reflect upon the way in which God has blessed the work among all His people these past five years. We see in Charts 3-5 the membership and soul-winning work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all people, making the words of the revelator a reality.
There is a great work for us to accomplish today in His name when we work together. Circumstances will daily challenge and even discourage us at times. Yet in those difficult periods, the Spirit of God works anew upon our hearts to bring a reminder of Him who has walked the road before us. He has also faced temptation, trial, and opposition, yet for us He has overcome every obstacle. Hebrews 12:2 entreats us to lift our eyes from the hard road and daunting task and see our Heavenly Brother and Lord right beside us—“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (NKJV). I am so thankful that today my faith rests upon the Rock of the Living Savior Jesus Christ. We invite you to again join the Lord and His Church with a renewed energy to manifest to our generation “the riches of the grace of Christ.” Maranatha!