Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were thousands of articles encouraging us to limit our screen time and make sure that we spent time outside in nature or at least interacting with other individuals in person. However, during the past 18 months each of us  have gone beyond the recommended amount of screen time just with Zoom.

We’ve joined Zoom for board meetings, business meetings, worship experiences, ordinations, installations, baby blessings, prayer sessions, and graduations. We’ve attended presentations on social distancing regulations, vaccinations, organization closings, reopenings, reclosings and more during this time. We’ve talked about a lot as a church, but I’ve noticed that we haven’t talked about our money.

When I say money, I don’t mean tithe and offering. I mean personal finances.

For better or for worse, we were all affected in some way financially during this pandemic. We’ve all had to pivot, to do things differently, and to be creative. While studying Genesis 41, the story of Joseph and the plan he put forth to lead a nation through a pandemic, I developed a plan for an event that would do the same in 2021.

The idea was to allow individuals who have successfully navigated this pandemic to share their successes and failures to help attendees prepare not just for now but the future. The result was a three-hour digital conference titled Pandemic-Proof.

I called one of my friends to share the idea and asked that person to be a presenter, but they said they couldn’t. However, they offered me these words of advice: “If you want to do your audience a service you have to have Chanda Nunes (lead Pastor of Pacific Union College Church) share her testimony.” So I reached out to Pastor Nunes and was encouraged by her passion and desire to help the community be better.

Before we hung up, she also gave me a few words of advice: “If you want this event to go well you have to include Dr. Rudolph Peters.” I had worked with Dr. Peters before and he also agreed to present. Things were shaping up and I could already see how attendees would be blessed by this conference.

As I was sharing this update with another friend, they asked me if I’d reached out to Pastor Kymone Hinds who has been doing been doing great things with young entrepreneurs. So I called him and he too agreed to join the team.

The more I watched and read the news I became convinced that there was no way we would be able to do a financial conference without covering cryptocurrency. Additionally, the extended life expectancy of the average individual warranted a discussion on preparing for the future. This led to another conversation in which a person declared, “If cryptocurrency is your desire, look no further than Kris Perez and for legacy planning Elder Seth Bardu.” After gaining their commitments, we had relevant topics and amazing presenters—but there was still something missing.

I’ve long been enamored by Pastor Kory Douglas and his ability to effectively generate multiple streams of income using his God-given gifts. I’d had deep conversations with Elder Toni Horton about her years of service with the IRS and her annual practice of assisting the community with preparing taxes. I’d worked with Elder Steven Garner, marketing expert extraordinaire, on several marketing campaigns for my church and have always appreciated his perspectives. So I reached out to each of them, shared with them the vision and they all agreed to join.

After months of planning and praying, on the afternoon of October 26 we held the Pandemic-Proof Conference. It was attended by individuals from across the United States and each presenter had their own Zoom breakout room and presented two sessions of one hour length to allow for attendees to attend two different sessions. In between sessions, there was a “pep-rally” session where seven attendees won $100 each for answering questions from the presentation they attended. All of this was spearheaded by the Central States Conference Adventist Community Services department and supported by the conference administration.

When asked why it was done through Community Services and not some other department, I replied, “This is community service! If it affects our community, it is our responsibility to assist by providing the resources necessary to contribute to a resolution of the issue. I believe a lot of financial issues will be resolved because of the information shared in this conference.”

For those who missed the event, the videos will be uploaded to YouTube once they are edited, and the planning committee is already considering the next Pandemic-Proof event to be held in early 2022.