As I gratefully review our journey together since 2016, here are a few things that give me wonderful confidence in God’s gracious leading into the future.

Engaged Congregations

Through intentional encouragement, local congregations are taking more and more personal responsibility for the influence they have in their communities. As helpful as “programs from the top” may be, the message of Christ is to be personalized to the individuals we serve. Church boards are praying for guidance. New and creative ideas are becoming realities and more members are becoming engaged in the outreach of the church.

Dedicated Pastoral Leadership

Leadership makes a difference. Those with the biblical gift of pastoring were never intended to do all the work, but to enable congregations to be noticeable lights in their communities.

With our churches closing in March 2020 because of COVID-19, our pastors stepped up to the task of ministering from a distance. They quickly learned about Zoom and live streaming and continued to minister to their congregations.

We continue to intentionally offer young pastors opportunities to serve. As important as experience is, we have confidence in the next generation to not only continue the work, but to advance it. We continue our commitment to inviting qualified and called women into pastoral ministry.

Committed, Loving Adventist Teachers

Our deeply caring, professional teachers, who are responsible for nearly 500 students in our Kansas-Nebraska schools, are daily influencing young lives for Christ. The pandemic greatly complicated their lives and the lives of their students. Yet they did what they had to do—with no complaints—and helped their students learn and grow, even on-line. We cannot thank them enough.

The conference Scholarship Program is supporting about 45 young people attending Adventist boarding schools outside our conference each year. Without this program, many of these teens would not be able to attend an Adventist academy. Our conference schools are also receiving significant scholarship monies to assist families with their tuition costs. Our commitment to excellence through Adventist education will remain a high priority for our conference. This investment in our youth is worth it, now and into eternity.

New Opportunities

We are unable to predict how the Spirit will lead. Who would have imagined that the mission field would come to us? The growing immigrant population in our territory is eager to hear the gospel. Many were taught about Adventism in their homeland. The Karen (formerly Burmese) people are a growing population in Omaha, Lincoln, and parts of Western Kansas. They now have their own building, purchased in 2019, and their influence continues to grow.

Financial Stability

The Kansas-Nebraska Conference is currently operating well within the denominational guidelines of fiscal health. God has blessed with tithe increases in each of the past five years, including 2020 with the pandemic.

Streamlining and Accountability

The conference officers regularly evaluate how effectively we are using the tools and resources given us. Pastoral staffing to our 95 congregations is reviewed annually. School appropriations are increased whenever possible. Budgets are monitored. Conference departments are evaluated as to their effectiveness in the field. Our desire is to see the highest possible amount of funds dedicated to front line ministries, our churches and schools.

Our conference is made up of ordinary people. We are Seventh-day Adventist Christians, yet so varied and diverse. We may not agree on everything. Yet, Jesus urges us to be united (Eph. 4:1-6). We are called to circle tightly around Jesus. May this be our deepest desire as we move forward into the future.

Ron Carlson is president of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.