From the President's Pen
In his 1960 inaugural speech, as one of the youngest elected presidents of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, heralded this proclamation:
“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”
Thirty years later in His 1990 inaugural Sabbath message, Robert S. Folkenberg, recent president of the Carolina Conference and newly elected president of the world church at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, challenged members by saying, “Give young people a piece of the pie and maybe they will stay for dinner.”
Unfortunately, one of the heartaches we bear as a church is a reality that many young adults are either dropping their connection to the church or are disengaged with its message and mission. This is happening throughout Christendom, and it has impacted us as well. Our Church in North America is facing a crisis. We have become an aging church, with a median age of 51.
The administration of the Carolina Conference, in partnership with our Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department, has initiated an intentional effort to establish a better connection with and insure the retention and engagement of our young adults. We generally regard those in the their 20’s or 30’s as young adults, and often refer to them as Millennials (or Gen Y) or the more recent Gen Z. In August, at our 43rd Constituency Session, we hope to confirm this plan to reverse the current trend in this age range, and embark on a movement in our young members much like the one that helped pioneer the Adventist church and its mission.
Last year (2021), the four officers of the Carolina Conference, along with our youth director, Hector Gonzalez, scheduled the first Young Adult Summits—a total of four per year—in a variety of host locations across the Carolinas. The purpose of these summits was to listen to our young adults and discover how they see themselves in relation to the church and its mission.
Our focus between 2022 and 2026 will be to work toward the realization of the following goals:
Continue holding four Young Adult Summit (YAS) meetings every year.
Encourage our pastors and churches to give young adults a “seat at the table” on our church boards and as leaders in the church.
Intentionally add young adult pastors who will help guide the ministry of Christ’s churches in the Carolinas.
Add young adults to the executive committee of the Carolina Conference.
Continue to hold young adult retreats like Awaken to continue the dialogue, inspire leadership development, and equip for the journey of person spiritual revival, worship and outreach.
Reignite the Project Refresh media ministry, a collaboration between the Communication Department and the Youth and Young Adult Department, as a digital bridge between the Adventist Church and its young adults. The video programs and podcasts they produce are designed to answer difficult questions about God and the church, and to let young people know that their church is listening and genuinely cares about the matters of their hearts.
Focus the ShareHim ministry on using young adults in international evangelism, helping them embrace the global outreach of the church’s mission and message.
Employ a full-time assistant director in the Youth and Young Adult Department primarily to:
Plan and implement conference-wide events for young adults.
Attend and support youth department programs.
Implement the Growing Young Initiative in the Carolina Conference.
Advance and nurture the public campus ministry program for Adventist students attending non-Adventist colleges in our conference.
Develop programs that address the results of our Young Adult Summit meetings.
Our hope and prayer is to hold on to these dear and precious lives in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This will require our earnest prayers, research, focus teams, and a variety of resources. With God’s help and a conscious emphasis of true spirituality and spiritual development, we can see the tide turn in this holy goal of engaging, empowering, and enabling the young adults of our church.
"The greatest want of the world is the want of men and women—Young adults who will not be bought or sold, those who in their inmost souls are true and honest, those who do not fear to call sin by its right name, those whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, those who will stand for the right though the heavens fall." Adapted by Elder Leslie D. Louis from the wordsof Ellen G. White in Messages to Young People
Your servant leader,
Carolina Conference President