Among the eventful itinerary of Dr. Elie Henry, was the debut of the NCC’s Talk-back Live with the President. Dr. Henry joined Dr. Kern Tobias and Pastor Desmond James for the first in a series of dialogues with NCC members. “Let’s talk – St. Maarten” brought Adventist youth and adults together to discuss trending social and denominational issues.
More than 500 members and guests gathered at the Cole Bay SDA Church for the event which lasted three hours and was streamed via the NCC YouTube channel. During the unscripted program, which was ably hosted by Mishlyn Stevens, the presidents fielded questions on a wide range of subjects: Women’s ordination, social issues, church structure and finances, and opportunities for young adults to serve in church leadership positions.
The youth were actively involved and in addition to several vocal performances, the young people channelled their questions through youth leaders and absorbed information about the church’s direction and the expanding frontiers of Adventism.
“This is remarkable that our administrators are reaching out to Adventist young adults and asking for their engagement with church leadership,” one on-line viewer commented.
The moderator, Mishlyn Stevens, shared her thoughts about the event, “Thank you to the leaders for allowing the young people to stand up and ask tough questions. The inclusion makes them own the church. We are a multi-cultural church, we all love and support each other, and we are strong in the Lord because of our love for one another.”
“We are connecting with young adults and with our church on social media,” said Pastor Royston Philbert, NCC Communication Director and producer of the talk-back segment. “As we look through the data, it is apparent that this engagement was worth it. It’s to be noted that we are moving in the right direction.”
Pastor James expressed his interest in continuing the dialogue with the youth, “The plain and simple truth is you are needed, and you are wanted in the church. We meet with our administrative committee, probably once a month for a number of hours. And what we learn in these kinds of meetings does not go unnoticed. We look to see what the trend is of our church, and how we can also help. We look forward to hearing what you have to say. And we try to bring that into our everyday life in our office as we move forward.”
After the broadcast ended, the Presidents continued answering questions from attendees. Pastor Desmond James asked those who remained to write him with suggestions on how the church should deal with the issues it faces, “I am very open to hearing your heart on this, so that we can consider what you have to say in more depth than we can afford, in terms of time, in a program like this.” Plans are underway for another live event and streaming with a Q&A segment.