A group of Adventists from Mid-America territory were among the crowd of approximately 1,750 registered members and guests who traveled to Orlando, Florida, to attend the Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries International Convention on Aug. 4-7, 2021. Held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel and Convention Center, the event was themed “Three Angels’ Messages: Into All the World.”
ASi is a membership-based organization of Seventh-day Adventist laypeople. In keeping with their motto of Sharing Christ in the Marketplace, they are business owners, individual professionals and supporting ministries who actively participate in the church’s worldwide mission of spreading the gospel of Christ to the world.
“ASi is committed to engaging and equipping lay missionaries to advance the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church to share the Three Angels’ Messages of God’s love and grace with the world,” said ASi president Steve Dickman. “As the world and the neighborhoods we live in are in turmoil, wondering what to do and where to turn, seeking peace and hope but finding none, we as a people have good news. There is peace and hope in Jesus.”
In addition to heart-felt congregational singing and well-known Adventist keynote speakers for the general sessions, the convention featured youth classes with Ben Roy “The Science Guy” and a Young Professionals Conference on Friday with three tracks and a variety of workshops themed around Create, Cultivate, Share Christ.
The ASi Missions, Inc. board, chaired by its president Denzil McNeilus from Minnesota, selected 28 projects to receive grants from the offering gathered on the final day of the convention, which typically exceeds $1 million.
One of the projects that has been supported in the past is Phone Faith, a telephone ministry hosted by Christian Record Service for the Blind in Lincoln, Nebraska. During the pandemic when many people have been experiencing isolation and depression, Phone Faith’s daily programs have helped individuals connect, be inspired and grow.
Christian Record president Diane Thurber, reporting on the impact of the Phone Faith, thanked ASi members for their support and added, “Please pray for us to be able to continue serving those who are legally blind or cannot physically hold a book.”
Over 150 ministries hosted exhibitions during this year’s convention. Exhibitors from Mid-America territory included Black Hills Health & Education Center in South Dakota, Eden Valley Institute of Wellness in Colorado, and HeReturns, a ministry based in Nebraska that supports publishing, health and other church ministries in 14 countries around the globe.
“We love ASi, especially the fellowshipping and networking,” said Karen Phillips, cofounder of HeReturns and vp of communication for the Mid-America chapter of ASi. “People at ASI have a passion for sharing Christ wherever God has placed them—in their own marketplace. We got involved because it gave us a way to promote our ministry and a platform to connect and network.”
Karen’s husband John Phillips, IT manager for the Mid-America chapter, also oversees their TV production ministry and a music ministry under the umbrella of HeReturns.
History of ASi
ASi’s history is rooted in Madison College, an Adventist self-supporting institution established in 1904 near Nashville, Tennessee, by E.A. Sutherland and Percy Magan. As Madison College expanded, it began to plant satellite schools and institutions around the country. In 1947 these self-supporting entities formed the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Self-Supporting Institutions, a department of the General Conference.
Over the years ASi membership grew from health and education professionals to include businesses and Adventist entrepreneurs and other professionals. In 1979, to better reflect ASi’s diverse membership, the organization’s name was changed to Adventist-laymen’s Services & Industries. When the North American Division was formed in 1985, ASi became one of its departments.
Today many other Adventist world divisions have ASi organizations of their own, with local chapters in numerous countries. These organizations function much like ASi does in North America. They hold their own conventions and meetings and sponsor their own projects, both locally and worldwide.
Each union within the NAD has a chapter for ASi. In the Mid-America Union chapter, there are nine officers and five staff. There are 13 members on the board. Leasa Hodges, president, is also a vp at Eden Valley Institute of Wellness.
Currently, perhaps due to the pandemic, there are just under 50 ASi members in Mid-America. ASI membership is available to any Seventh-day Adventist church member in good standing who operates a business, provides a professional service, or operates a supporting ministry. Students and recent graduates who are just beginning their careers are also welcome. Non-members are always invited and welcomed to attend rallies and other events.
Barbara Taylor, Mid-America vp of logistics and a businesswoman and church planter from Colorado, began attending the ASi conventions 30 years ago. As a past president of Mid-America’s ASi chapter, she has been very involved with the organization over the years.
One of the things Taylor loves most about ASi is the active participation. “ASi is an involved organization; it is not just about sitting in the church pews,” Taylor said.
Inside ASI is a 32-page, full-color magazine published twice yearly. It contains member features, devotional columns, project reports and other features designed to inform and inspire ASi members to a deeper spiritual walk and to more effective evangelism.
The enewsletter is called ASi Connections and is free to members. ASi’s Facebook page is Adventist – Laymen’s and Services Industries