Meeting under its theme, “Lord, Transform Me,” the Executive Committee of the Inter-American Division (IAD) of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) held its mid-year meeting in Miami from April 30 to May 1, 2017. In the midst of reviewing and approving commission reports and various motions on church business, the Executive Committee paused to honor the work of three of the Division’s longest serving elders.
The Ministerial Association sees the work of the local elder as playing a vital role alongside that of the local pastor in teaching, preaching and leading the flock. Pastor Israel Leito, President of the IAD remarked, “It is because of the work of the elders, I am what I am today.” He further elaborated, “…it was elders who counseled and admonished me, who helped me lead the local churches where I worked in the early years. So I say again, it is because of my mother, my professors and the elders, that I am what I am today. So we honor these three gentlemen, and through them we recognize the work all those men and women in the Division, who serve as elders. I ask God to continue to bless His Church with this aspect of ministry – of lay members who dedicate themselves to leading out in the spiritual and material affairs of God’s Church, under the leadership of the local pastor.”
Elder Joseph Griffin, an elder at Shiloh SDA Tabernacle, on St. Thomas in the North Caribbean Conference, was honored as the longest-serving elder, with 59 years, of the Caribbean Union. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Ellease Gumbs-Griffin, and three of his children Heather Griffin, Hollis Griffin and Dr. Hilma Griffin-Watson who surprised him by attending the event. Also surprising Elder Griffin were his cousins Mary and Olivia Cutting of Miami, as well as former Shiloh Treasurer Sister Joyce Bedford and her husband, who recently retired and reside in Miami. The other elders honored were Wilmer Bastien of the Haitian Union, with 45 years of service, and Armando Hernández Ramirez of the Mexican Union with 62 years of service.
The Ministerial Association’s work with the elders is led by Pastor Josney Rodriguez and is themed, “Committed to God, Every Elder Involved.” This was displayed on the screen during the ceremony. The elders each received a certificate from Pastor Leito and a special pin, with their years of service, was presented by one of the Division’s officers.
[The North Caribbean Conference coordinates neighborhood ministry on 10 Caribbean islands, operates 5 accredited educational institutions and oversees an active body of believers worshipping as 35 congregations, led by committed pastors, lay leaders and elders.]
Submitted by Heather L. Griffin