A combination of 15 newly employed ministers and interns attended this year's annual New Pastors' Orientation and Induction programme held at the British Union Conference office in Watford, from 14 to 19 January, 2023. The aim was to introduce attendees to the processes, departments, mission and vision of the BUC and equip them for service and their role within the local church.
Each day an attendee led a devotional presenting an array of perspectives on ministry. Pastor Kwame Mensah-Sarpong highlighted the juxtaposition of Ezekiel 3:3, noting that ministry will be flavoured with sweetness and bitterness. Pastor Connie Tsang reintroduced the well-known verse John 3:16; with a creative and cultural approach, utilising origami, Pastor Tsang emphasised the love rooted in the offer of eternal life. Pastor Sergio De Sosua urged his peers to understand their assignment, like Noah, to save and counsel others whilst not neglecting their own families.
The time we spent together learning, exploring, praying, growing and bonding over the food served as a reminder of the diversity and rich tapestry that makes up the ministerial fabric of the BUC.
The following report provides a précis of the experience and seminars delivered from the perspective of Daniel Amakye and Kwame Sarpong (Intern Pastors).
North England Conference (NEC) Ministerial Director Pastor Michael Simpson, and the South England Conference (SEC) Ministerial Director, Dr Hezron Otieno Adingo, facilitated the sessions. Both were present to support the BUC Ministerial Director, Pastor Samuel Ouadjo, who hosted the programme.
The first presenter was Dr Gifford Rhamie, a name familiar to many new ministers as a lecturer at Newbold College. Rhamie presented the reality of pastoring in multicultural Britain and that the pastor is to be a bridge-builder here in the British Isles. This was a call for the new ministers to ensure they were prepared to be creative, collaborative and even innovative because they would be pastoring communities that would be very different from their own cultural backgrounds.
Adingo shared his experiences and journey in pastoral ministry to encourage attendees that God would be with them in their pastoral journey. Dr Janos Kovacs, currently based at Newbold church, highlighted the importance and effectiveness of Small Groups Ministry, reasoning that the small group church is the 'end-time proof church'. Kovacs highlighted that small group churches are an effective way to help members be empowered, receive Bible study, evangelise, and grow collectively and individually.
The following day, SEC's Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Coordinator (PARL), Pastor Brighton Kavaloh, expressed the importance of being an ambassador for the church. Kavaloh stressed that this aspect of ministry is critical as this is where the church can become acquainted and involved with the community's public sectors, which will help when dealing with religious liberty issues. The uniqueness of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's belief system can be marginalised, and many members are unaware of their rights to practice their beliefs freely. So the work of PARL will help members to be proud Adventists and educate the broader communities about the Adventist belief system.
BUC Treasurer Wederly Aguiar educated the new ministers on all the church's financial matters. The discussion on the salary structure, allowances, and various insurances that the new ministers will be eligible and entitled to, gave them an understanding of how to navigate things financially as they begin life as pastors within the BUC.
BUC President Pastor Eglan Brooks and NEC President Pastor George Kumi presented on the topics of the organisational structure of the church, as well as its operations. These topics were essential, especially when dealing with working in an organisation. It is imperative to be aware of how the structure works, and so with these presentations, the new ministers could understand their place within the system and how to function within the framework.
As they moved on to another day, BUC Communication and Media Director, Pastor Sam Davies, began by emphasising the significance of 'Handling a Crisis'. As leaders and representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, new ministers were made aware of the realities of dealing with the media.
Stanborough Press' Elder Trevor Johnson enlightened the ministers on the place of literature evangelism and how it is still applicable today when it comes to the church's overall ministry. BUC Associate Executive Secretary Pastor Jacques Venter gave a tour of the BUC office, which allowed the new ministers to become familiar with all the staff and departments but also helped to use the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS) to be able to manage and keep records of the church, ensuring that all details are up to date.
BUC Executive Secretary Pastor John Surridge took the new ministers through church policy and its importance to help run and unify the church. He says it applies to ministers and members, and Surridge gave insight into how the church uses policy at all levels of the organisation. If in doubt, he says, the ministers should visit the BUC website for the current church policy to learn and familiarise themselves with it.
Pastor Christian Salcianu, Director of the Adventist Discovery Centre (ADC) and Ms Elisabeth Sanguesa, Stanborough Press Manager, shared with the new ministers the resources and literature that they will have access to, which will help to enhance their ministry and personal development, but also how these departments are also tools that can help with evangelism.
Seventh-day Adventist Association Ltd's (SDAA) Director, Elder Steve Okelo, focused on the procedures of dealing with the ownership of church buildings. Okelo stated that the churches where the new ministers may be placed might want to acquire properties at some point. He also shared the most important processes and guidelines to avoid unnecessary legal issues.
ADRA-UK CEO Pastor Bert Smit also gave updates on the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and invited the new ministers to be involved and collaborate with this ministry as they aim to continue ministering to people overseas.
SEC President Dr Emmanuel Osei offered poignant advice on thoughtfully planning a sermonic year. A large part of pastoral ministry involves preaching sermons, and adequately preparing can help cover specific topics, ease the feeling of panic, and you can take the church on a spiritual journey.
Dr Les Ackie, Family, Children's and Possibilities Ministries Director at the BUC, admonished the new ministers on prioritising their families, addressing domestic abuse, and safeguarding within the church. Finally, safeguarding is essential currently and adhering to the guidelines can save the church from getting in trouble with the law. Still, it was more a reminder of the church's duty to protect or speak up for those who are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.
BUC Director of Youth Ministries, Pastor Kevin Johns, emphasised the importance of Youth Ministries and ensured that the focus is not on entertaining the youth but instead encouraging them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Personal Saviour and to empower them for service.
Dr Stephen Currow, Principal of Newbold College of Higher Education, presented the importance that learning never stops. Currow indicated that continuous education is essential for the minister and would also be a means for the Holy Spirit to inspire the next generation. He added that constant learning encourages the notion of mentorship to inspire others into ministry. Finally, BUC Director for Health, Women's Ministries and Community Services, Sharon Platt-McDonald, stressed the importance of the upkeep of the minister's well-being by sharing the significance of health checks, exercise, nutrition, mental and emotional health and having a good work-life balance. Research suggests that pastors are in the top 10 of most stressful jobs and are also in the same category of not maintaining healthy habits. Therefore, the new ministers were encouraged to be good stewards of their health.
Overall, the feedback from the new ministers present at this induction has been very positive. Attendees received a lot of information and advice. There were moments when the new ministers could bond through the various social activities at the end of the day, as well as share their experiences so far in ministry and ask questions about the ministry, which the experienced ministers were able to answer based on their experiences.
Such a gathering and training is rare amongst other Conferences or Unions. The BUC Ministerial Department must be commended for their due diligence and feeling responsible for ensuring that new ministers are competent and well-prepared for ministry in this context.