“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” 
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

As we look around the world, Dickens’ statement is as real today as it was when it was written in 1859.

The Dakota Conference has not experienced the inner-city pain some conferences have, but we are well aware of the times in which we live. In the last 15 years, we have experienced the best of years and more recently, the worst of years.

The good times with an increase in tithes and offerings allowed for new ministries, updating of building infrastructure, starting of new elementary schools and assembling of an amazing team of people who love Jesus.

During the worst of times, most recently 2019, the conference realized a downturn in tithes and offerings as floods destroyed Dakota’s harvests. Hoping 2020 would be a more normal year, COVID-19 and a divided nation with protests and riots brought a realization that mission and ministry may never be the same.

By God’s amazing grace and the support of dedicated Adventist people in the Dakota territory, we move forward in the call of Matt. 28 to spread the Gospel. Is it easy? Not at all. Reductions include employee numbers in every area of the conference and trimmed travel budgets. It is a time of prayer and seeking God’s leading.

Dakota Conference, with its agrarian landscape, has allowed for natural personal distancing, open church services, baptisms, on-site youth camps and a delayed but in-person camp meeting. Dakota Adventist Academy, allowed to remain open by the governor, will start school again this fall—on schedule.

What the future holds, no one exactly knows. But the church will push through. The church structure is being challenged and will be challenged more, but God’s church—His people—can have confidence in their Lord and Savior.

Elder Neil Biloff is president of the Dakota Conference.