Following a welcome by Mission President Pastor Emanuel Bran, the delegation was led into a time of devotion with a message given by British Union Conference (BUC) Executive Secretary, Pastor John Surridge.
Having set a spiritual tone and a focused purpose on the task at hand the business session got underway using the theme of the past three years, 'Seeking and serving to make God known'.
Pastor Bran commenced the proceeding by outlining in his presidential report, a highlight of the main activities, plans and accomplishments throughput the last three years. Divided into three areas, Pastor Bran spoke of Reaching Out – training, equipping, nurturing and discipling members and church leaders to active ministry. These areas were met through regular leadership development training events held throughout the year, pastoral team meetings and church departmental training to equip members for better service.
In Reaching Up, Pastor Brans' report, spoke of the importance of developing our spiritual identity in Christ, an area that needs continual development. The Reaching Across element involved the need to improve and enhance the communication network between congregations and hence a united voice toward the community. "Our aim", said Pastor Bran "is to be proactive and not reactive." Bran also spoke of his passion for the reclamation of missing members and improvement for the retention of young people. The video presentation Pastor Bran's used to expand his report can be see here.
Pastor Paul Lockham former BUC Associate Executive Secretary and the Executive Secretary for the Welsh Mission, presided over the secretary's report. He revealed that based on reports received from local congregations, the membership of the Welsh Mission from 31 December 2018, stood at 663, which was a net increase of 55 members. The membership increase was mainly due to baptisms and membership transfers. Although seemingly an insignificant number, Lockham highlighted the sadness of having 3 members missing, and stressing that with Christ every single soul is significant and therefore ought to be for us as a Church.
Mr Earl Ramharacksingh, BUC Treasurer, reported that over the three years, £1.16 million tithe has been returned which represents a 7.9% increase from the previous session. He expressed appreciation on behalf of the Union for the support of the Welsh Mission membership.
With Missions, departmental responsibilities that mirror the Conference and Union are led by sponsors who are either lay members or ministers with additional responsibilities. The work and effort involved in carry out these duties within an entire Mission only highlights the commitment and willingness of those involved to see the work of the Church move forward.
Some of the reports included the following:
Adventist Discovery Centre (ADC) – Pastor Maureen Rock, still overcoming long-term illness to share her vision of every church having an ADC coordinator.
Children's Ministries Sponsor – Eileen McKenzie, shared with joy her involvement with children and calculated that there are over 350 children within the Welsh Mission.
Health Sponsor – Lil Saunders had served ably in this voluntary role for over 20 years and continually shared the vision of visiting the towns within the Mission, offering advice on lifestyle, thus enhancing health and helping to reduce the risk of non-communicable disease among the population.
Pathfinder Sponsor ‒ Pastor David Rancic highlighted amongst many things the importance of the Pathfinder Bible Experience and how it has already impacted in a positive way the Pathfinders' approach to the Bible.
In other business, sponsors for the next triennium were selected by the Nominating Committee and accepted by the main delegation as:
Children’s Ministries Mrs Eileen McKenzie
Communication Pastor Emanuel Bran
Education Mr Jonathan Nyengani
Family Ministries Referred to the incoming WM Executive Committee
Health Ministries Referred to the incoming WM Executive Committee
Pathfinder Pastor David Rancic
Personal Ministries Pastor Adriana Fodor
Stewardship Referred back to the WM Executive Committee
Trust Services Dr Brian Phillips
Women’s Ministries Mrs Samantha Fessal
Youth Pastor Jeremy Johnson
In other business, the Nominating Committee considered 2 referrals and gave prayerful consideration to them particularly regarding the lack of representation from the North Wales area on the Welsh Mission Executive Committee.
It was the opinion of the Nominating Committee that the report should remain with the names as presented, nevertheless the issue of representation from North Wales is important and needs to be addressed. To this end, the Nominating Committee made the following recommendations to the Plans Committee of this session:
1. Request from the BUC Executive Committee a variance to the Model Operating Policy to allow an increase in the size of the WM Executive Committee, which is currently 9, plus the Executive Officers. The Trans-European Division Model Operating Policy would allow for this.
2. Recommend to the incoming WM Executive Committee that they have a permanent invitee(s) from the North Wales region with a view that such invitee(s) will be appointed as full Welsh Mission Executive Committee members when/if the operating policy is changed.
This recommendation was seconded and accepted by the delegation.
In a time of question and answer at the end with the President, Pastor Emanuel Bran, some of the concerns were raised:
Why do we have churches in Telford and Shrewsbury which are outside Wales? (Dr Brian Phillips was able to provide the historic reasoning for that based on geographical and transportational routes from North to South Wales which made those areas more feasible to be included in the Mission.)
How can we make our church more relevant to those around us?
What can we do about unentered areas in Wales?
With an increasing number of children in our Mission, how can we provide a strategic plan to enhance their development?
The need to reach out to the Welsh indigenous through material in the Welsh language
Need to update our online presence
The atmosphere for the session throughout the day showed a collaborative spirit between delegates and administration and ended with a commitment message by BUC President Pastor Ian Sweeney.
Afterward Pastor Bran thanked everyone for their attendance and participation and encouraged delegates as they returned to continue embracing the theme and mission of 'making God known' in our own regions and communities.