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The Sabbath Sofa, Bible Heroes and the End of the Great Controversy Project: Annual Council Diary, Day Three


When the General Conference Executive Committee meets each fall in Silver Spring, all kinds of other meetings are put on the schedule, too. Sunday morning, the Council on Evangelism and Witness resumed presentations that it had started on Friday night. Today it was time to talk about creative evangelism ideas. My favorites came from the United Kingdom where an evangelistic series is underway in London.

That is where the Sabbath Sofa has drawn over 10,000 likes on Facebook. Led by Pastor Costescu, a sofa is placed in a busy shopping area and people are invited to take a seat and engage in a conversation about rest. This leads to an introduction to the Sabbath principle of a 24-hour period of rest. (For more information see the dedicated Sabbath website or Facebook page). Heroes, a free Bible game for smart phones, is another creative idea coming out of Britain, from London Pastor Sam Neves.

Membership numbers were explored extensively during the Secretary’s Report. World membership is now close to 18 million. There were 1.1 million baptisms last year. The Interamerica Division is now the largest division. The East-Central Africa Division had the largest number of baptisms, while the North American Division has the largest number of large congregations and produces the largest amount of tithe, at $1.4 billion.

Top Ten Unions were identified in membership, baptisms, congregations, giving, growing, plateauing, and declining. East-Central India, Western India, and Northern India led the way in growing unions. On the plateauing list, South Germany, Poland, and Japan led the way, but the list also included two unions in the Interamerica Division—Puerto Rico and French Antilles Guiana—as well as three from North America—Lake, Pacific, and North Pacific. (See ANN photos of the graphs used.)

An extensive report was given on the Adventist footprint in urban areas based on recent research collected from all the divisions. Worldwide there are 396 people to every one Adventist. But in urban areas that number is 555 to every one Adventist. More than half of all people now live in urban areas. As maps flashed on the screen showing the locations of large cities and then where Adventist congregations are located, the challenge of the 10/40 window became clear. Stretching across north Africa and Asia, the 10/40 window has 236 cities with more than a million people – most with very little, if any, Adventist presence.

Not only did the report cover the number challenges, it was noted that the majority populations in this area are Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist. A list of urban issues was shown, such as poverty, housing, water sanitization, public transportation. Mission to urban areas was declared the biggest challenge to the SDA Church, calling for a long-term comprehensive approach to evangelism.

Concluding the day’s agenda was a ceremony to officially end the Great Controversy Project that has seen the worldwide distribution of 140 million copies of the book by Ellen G. White. The story was told of a family from Brazil that received the book as a present and eventually found their way to the Adventist Church where the parents and oldest son were baptized in 2012. More recently the family has moved to the United States for three years. They were present at the meeting and introduced to the assembled leaders. While the official Great Controversy project has come to a close, President Ted N.C. Wilson said that results from the campaign would continue to be seen in the coming years, and indeed until the Second Coming of Jesus.

Image: Adventist News Network

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