It is hard to believe 2024 is here! Since the pandemic is mostly in our rearview mirror and there are no restrictions for travel or assembly, time seems to be flying by quickly again. It’s exciting for me to hear reports of our schools, and to a great extent our churches, filling back up to pre-Covid levels.
Globally, the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to grow. We now have more 22 million members on our books, with over 81,500 churches. We have over 8,000 schools, which is the most by far of any Protestant religion. There are also 180 hospitals around the world with many of them having been started by medical missionaries who graduated from Loma Linda University.
Here in the Mid-America Union, we also continue to grow. Despite the departure from the Midwest of many people to the coasts, our membership numbers are still increasing. As you will read in the conference presidents’ reports, evangelism is alive and well with wonderful reports coming from various parts of our territory. [insert MAUC stats here]
Updates on Higher Education
Union College continues to amaze me. I wish you could experience the tremendous spirit on the campus, from the enthusiasm of our students to the care and expertise provided by our faculty and staff. It is truly one of the best learning environments you can find anywhere coupled with a strong missional and spiritual focus.
If you haven’t heard, Union College will soon be called Union Adventist University. This name change, which will take effect June 1, 2024, comes with much excitement and support. Union College has actually been a university for quite some time now, having offered a graduate program for the last 15 years. With the addition of three new graduate programs, the Board of Trustees, after surveying many alumni and stakeholders, voted to make the change.
Another exciting update about Union College is that the new health and fitness center will be ready for the 2024-2025 school year. As I have watched the structure taking shape, I have been in awe of the generous alumni and other donors for this project. It will be a fantastic addition to the school and bless our students and community greatly.
I truly hope Union College is on the heart of every young person contemplating where to attend college. The students who come to Union are highly sought after by employers and the learning environment lends itself beautifully to creating our next generation of leaders.
In November, I had the opportunity to meet with the college’s religion faculty and the junior and senior students. I was so inspired by the faculty who are training our students to be pastors. And as I visited with the students, I was overwhelmed with the quality and dedication of these young people.
The Apple of His Eye
So now, I will summarize what I believe to be the “state of the church.” I would say it is in great shape! Not because we have solved all our challenges and fixed everything that needs mending. We still live in a broken world with an enemy who doesn’t like anything we are doing. We can expect trials until Jesus comes. I say we are doing well because we have a great God who is sovereign and who loves His church. As a matter of fact, the church is the apple of His eye!
We are also blessed with the most generous and committed members who support this mission with all their heart and soul. And having witnessed mission-minded young people preparing to assume leadership, I can say God is at work and taking good care of His church. What a great time to be alive as we await the return of our Savior.