Leaders of the Mid-America Union and its six local conference presidents assessed the state of their Church shortly before the recent General Conference Session. Following is a one-sentence “SWOT” analysis from each of them, in alphabetical order.

(S = Strength; W = Weakness; O = Opportunity; T = Threat)

Ed Barnett:

S = We are God’s remnant church, and we are in His hands!

W = We are too slow in making changes in the church and its structure.

O = To make change and chart a new course this summer

T = Our unwillingness to even look at new ways to do things in the church.

As president of the Minnesota Conference, Ed Barnett describes himself as “happy to serve wherever the Master needs me.”

Neil Biloff:

S = Our dedicated people

W = We have a tendency to worry too much about how we are viewed by the world.

O = Our young people and Adventist education

T = Continual political battles over money, turf, race, “helicopter parents,” power and theology

Neil Biloff is president of the Dakota Conference, living in Pierre, South Dakota.

Ron Carlson:

S = Seventeen million members from all over the world

W = Seventeen million members from all over the world (same as above)

O = A global community where things can change overnight, literally

T = Being stuck in the past

Ron Carlson, president of Kansas-Nebraska Conference, describes himself as “a Minnesota-born, Union College graduate with a lovely wife, Sue, and four amazing children, one grandson and two grandbabies on the way.”

Dean Coridan:

S = Holy Spirit-filled members united in mission

W = Divisions among God’s people

O = Opening the door for young people to serve in the mission of the church

T = Loss of identity and mission

Dean Coridan and his wife, Gail, have served the past 25 years in the Iowa-Missouri Conference, where he is presently conference president.

Charles Drake:

S = The cultural diversity that will enable a quicker, more efficient spreading of the gospel to every kindred, tongue and people

W = Our reluctance to be involved in relevant community-based ministries

O = Engaging sincere seekers of truth in a conversation about Jesus Christ

T = The structure sometimes inhibits the mission.

Charles W. Drake III, PhD, is president of Central States Conference, with offices in Kansas City, Kansas.

Elaine Hagele:

S = One strength of the church is its reliance on God.

W = One weakness of the church is the complexity of its structure that can slow down action.

O = One opportunity for the church is to use the commitment of its youth.

T = One threat to the church is the attitude that Jesus’ coming is in the distant future.

Elaine Hagele is vice president for finance of the Mid-America Union, which she says “means a lot of prayer and a lot of travel.”

Thomas Lemon:

S = Our message, founded on the Rock, Jesus Christ

W = Our dependence upon ourselves, organizationally

O = The missional creativity of our emerging generation

T = Our reluctance to be legitimately inclusive of all the various people groups

Thomas Lemon is president of the Mid-America Union.

Gary Thurber:

S = Without a doubt, our people . . . especially our young people, who are so on fire for the Lord!

W = Lack of time in God’s Word and prayer, and failure to utilize all the diverse gifts and talents in our church for sharing the last-day message of hope that God has entrusted to us

O =  To unite as one body and use all the resources and technology available to share the good news of Christ’s soon coming

T =  If we fragment, through failing to have the bond of unity that the New Testament speaks so much about

Gary Thurber is president of the Rocky Mountain Conference.