Minnesota Conference youth and communication director Jeff Wines interviews Ed Barnett, president of the conference.

Over the last year and a half, you have been in Minnesota serving as president of the conference.  Where is the conference headed? What is our mission and our vision?

Not long after I arrived in Minnesota, the conference executive committee as well as the administrative team came together to pray and discuss where we saw God leading.  Out of that experience came four initiatives to coincide with our mission and vision.

Our mission is to help people realize they are accepted in Jesus Christ and come to know, love, serve and share Him. Our vision is this: recognizing that Jesus will return soon, we will all actively engage in ministry.

The first of our four initiatives to support that mission and vision is to encourage members in the Minnesota Conference to read their Bible clear through in 2011.  In my personal experience, as I have read the Bible through for a number of years, I have found the Holy Spirit helps us grow closer to Jesus and become more holistic Christians.  The daily reading from God’s word is a light to our path.

The second initiative is to encourage members in the Minnesota Conference to be faithful in stewardship.  It takes money to spread the gospel.

What financial state are we in right now?

Things are real tight.  But we see the Lord continuing to bless and lead through our members, teachers and pastors.  In conjunction with this we are putting more emphasis on lay led ministry/evangelism.  We had to do some right-sizing in 2010, and yet we had a 0.44 percent increase in tithe.  Praise God!

A major emphasis and the third initiative is our youth.

We now have you [Jeff Wines] as our youth director in the conference. Your main job is working with our youth, as well as being our communication director.  One of your major emphases is North Star Camp (NSC).  There is a master plan now to completely improve the camp.  God is blessing in that effort. You are also working with Pathfinder ministries, Adventurers, Master Guides and young adults, as well as other youth initiatives.

We are also continuing to promote Seventh-day Adventist education.  This fall we had a SchoolWorks summit to discuss strategies for improving SDA education in the conference.  Out of that came a new program called “Made in Minnesota.” It’s a plan for members across the conference to give monthly toward Christian education to help young people.  Whether or not the local church has a school, this is a way for our people to participate in Christian education.

So how is our educational system doing?

Our total student enrollment is up from last year.  We’re moving in the right direction.  Education is expensive, yet it is money well spent.

The fourth initiative is to reach our goal of 9,000 members by camp meeting 2012.  At the end of 2010, we exceeded 8,000 members.

Isn’t it hard to gain 1,000 members in one year in Minnesota?

It is a big goal, yet it’s attainable.  A lot of the growth is happening in our ethnic congregations, so a large portion of this growth will come from these churches.

As we talk, you seem to carry a sense of urgency with these four initiatives.

We must do everything we can to get people in the Word and faithful in stewardship.  At the same time we can’t let the youth slip out of the church.  With the short time that we have before Christ comes, I believe these initiatives will help us do our part in seeking and saving the lost.