Dr. Elie Henry, the President of the Church in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA), ended his three-day visit to the North Caribbean Conference, on Sunday January 13, 2019, with words of commendation and congratulations to its leadership. This was Dr. Henry’s second visit to the Caribbean Union, since being asked to serve as the top executive leader of 3.7 million members across the Inter-American Division (IAD).
He shared his impressions, “For the past three days, I enjoyed all the celebrations that revealed a church committed to the proclamation of the greatness of God; resilient members who came from adversity strong in faith and works; a pastoral team very much engaged with the comprehensive mission of the Church; and, a very supportive leadership at the Conference level. They have a great vision and are moving strategically to do great things for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
On the twin-nation island of St. Maarten, border security between the French and the Dutch territories did not deter Dr. Henry – he took time from his scheduled visit with NCC members on Dutch-St. Maarten to make a pastoral call on SDA members on the French side of the island and delivered greetings on behalf of the IAD officers.
Over 800 members and guests gathered at the Cole Bay SDA Church on St. Maarten for a convention that featured Dr. Henry alongside the President of the Caribbean Union, Dr. Kern Tobias, the President of the North Caribbean Conference, Pastor Desmond James, and local pastors.
During opening remarks at the convention, Dr. Henry said, “What a pleasure to be here in St. Maarten on this first visit – to a beautiful, warm, spiritual constituency. It is my first meeting itinerary for the year 2019 and I am happy to spend the time with God’s people here. It is my first visit since the hurricane of 2017, and I am delighted to see the progress and the resilience of the people of God.”
In 2017, the SDA Church in the North Caribbean Conference (NCC)was severely affected by two Category 5 hurricanes. Nine churches on the islands of Anegada, Anguilla, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Tortola sustained severe damage. Church schools on St. Thomas, Tortola and St. Maarten require extensive re-construction.
Dr. Henry selected Jeremiah 33:6 for his scriptural discourse and encouraged the constituency, “Good is going to push through for you. In the midst of disaster, God will one day restore all things. God’s restoration is not an illusion. The catastrophe will end in a wonderful way because God has thoughts of hope and peace toward us, and an expected end. Amidst all the things you experienced, God is saying I am still the God. I am present and real in all you are experiencing.”
Pastor Desmond James expressed appreciation for Dr. Elie’s comforting thought and shared, “Many of the members of the constituency are still rebuilding from the effects of the hurricane. Many are still displaced and dislocated. The President’s message brought hope to the staggered members.”
With more than 15,000 members throughout its 41 congregations, the church in the NCC continues to be a major contributor to the life of the church in the Caribbean Union and in Inter-America.