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  • Writer's pictureLeslie D. Louis

Office of the PRESIDENT

What an honor and sacred trust you have so graciously bestowed on me as your servant leader for the Lord in the Carolinas these 10- plus years! Carole and I cannot begin to thank you for being such an amazing church family. The challenges and accomplishments, the opportunities and memories have been the richest treasures of our ministry. For all this I claim no credit. Not I, but Christ has been my constant Captain and Companion. I also owe an inordinate debt of gratitude to the amazing leadership at our Conference headquarters along with the consecrated workers in the field: our pastors, educators, literature evangelists, and camp staff. I have been blessed by them beyond measure.

During the weekend of August 18-21, 2022, delegates from each of our congregations will meet at Nosoca Pines Ranch to be the voice of the Church in the Carolinas. Although this body will be re-electing or electing the Conference leadership for the next quinquennial term [2022-2026], this is not about me or any person. It is about God and His Remnant Church in the closing moments of earth’s history. What matters most is that this 43rd Constituency Session is marked with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in guiding every decision.

Because of the unusual COVID-19 circumstances of the past two years, the session that had been planned for 2021 was moved to 2022, as was the case in many other conferences, the Southern Union Conference, and the General Conference World Session. Therefore, the reports on this publication, rather than spanning a typical five-year period, include the six-year span from 2016 through 2021.

At our last Constituency Session in 2016, we focused on seven visionary goals for God’s work in the Carolinas. As we reflect on what was accomplished, let us not forget that these goals are a journey we will continue to travel until we reach our Heavenly home. Here is a quick summary of those seven mission-focused goals and how your prayers have guided in their fulfillment:

1. Establish New Church Plants and Grow Existing Ones

PRAY AND COMMIT to a faith goal of raising at least 20 new church plants in South Carolina and 40 in North Carolina.

PRAY AND COMMIT to a faith goal of 90 total progressions or steps in congregational status [GROUPS to COMPANIES to CHURCHES].

RESULTS: As of September 30, 2021, we have established 12 new church plants in South Carolina and 21 new church plants in North Carolina. We have exceeded our expected goal with 97 progressions or steps in church plant development. Praise the Lord!

2. Welcome Traveling Pilgrim

PRAY AND COMMIT to placing attractive and updated signage with welcome greetings from the Seventh-day Adventist Church at every interstate entry point into North and South Carolina with our conference website information.

RESULTS: For the past five years we have contracted to maintain two attractive and up-to-date lighted welcome signs on interstate entry points, one into North Carolina and one into South Carolina.

3. Organize Houses of Prayer

PRAY AND COMMIT to developing a plan in which every church building of the Carolina Conference will be a church of HOPE (Houses of Prayer Everywhere).

This must include specific, publicized times in which our church sanctuaries may be accessed by:

  • Members of the church individually and collaboratively united in prayer

  • Youth and young adult prayer bands

  • Individuals and groups from the community with specific needs

The primary function of this strategy is to realize our source of power by seeking the Lord in personal prayer and by reflecting on His Word.

RESULTS: I praise the Lord for the establishment of the Youth Prayer Line every Tuesday evening as well as our regular prayer line each Monday evening. Our numbers continue to increase with the 10,000 President’s Prayer Partners. Prayer Ministry Weekend emphasis in local churches and Prayer Ministry retreats have highlighted both the need and power undergirding the church through a deeper connection of prayer.

But oh, how much we still need this counsel:

“‘Ask of me, and I will answer your requests.’ The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another” Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 9, p. 303.

4. Advance Adventist Education

PRAY AND COMMIT to increasing the number of our church schools to at least 25, with a 5 percent increase in our overall K-12 enrollment. It is our desire to advocate and validate the counsel of God’s messenger that “In the highest sense the work of education and the work of redemption are one” Ellen G. White, Education, page 30.

RESULTS: During this six-year term we began with 20 church-operated schools plus our boarding school, Mount Pisgah Academy (MPA). We increased to 21 schools. Then, unfortunately, our school in Columbia closed after more than 100 years. It is a major investment and commitment on the part of our churches and the Conference to operate a church school. So, we began with 20 and ended with 20. We will continue our quest to have 25 successful church school programs across North and South Carolina.

However, our current schools exceeded all our enrollment hopes and projections! Today we have a 22.7 percent increase in our overall K-12 enrollment. Praise the Lord indeed!

5. Foster a Culture of Soul Winning

PRAY AND COMMIT to lead at least 1,000 new souls every year to embrace Christ and His truth as members of God’s Remnant Church. To accomplish this, every pastor received encouragement and support to:

Develop, communicate, and implement an annual plan for kingdom growth in each church. This plan would intentionally include and involve the youth and young adults of the church.

Host or personally hold at least one evangelistic/reaping effort annually in their church district. Opportunities should be explored to involve students who have participated in a ShareHim series.

Follow with an extended plan of discipleship, leading converts to intentional involvement in the ministry of the church, and developing actively engaged disciple-makers.

We hold the conviction that the Holy Spirit will bring people into the church through the power of proclaiming the truths of God’s Word. However, only the power of compassionate love will keep them connected.

RESULTS: Without a doubt both 2020 and 2021 have brought unique challenges. The pandemic has impacted our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our nation and our entire global community. However, I am so grateful that there is a God in Heaven who has revealed to us the end of the story. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV.

In 2019 we added 873 members by baptism and profession of faith. In 2020 the number (significantly impacted by the pandemic) was 350 – a loss of 523 in kingdom growth from the previous year, yet still a miraculous praise! We can praise the Lord even more that at the end of 2021, we added 676 souls by baptism and profession of faith.

Prior to the pandemic, Carolina sponsored at least one overseas ShareHim campaign every year in places such as Peru, the Philippines, southern Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. The trips involved students from MPA, or other young adults with their pastoral mentors.

For over five years we have prayed and labored toward realizing a breakthrough of 1,000+ in Carolina soul winning in one year. My prayer is that, in our lifetime, we will witness the wonder of God’s miraculous power in reaching that special milestone. As we near the closing moments of Earth’s history, I am fully convicted that Holy Spirit-led and Holy Spirit-blessed evangelism can make us witnesses of Heaven’s power — the same power experienced by the early church.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 17:20 serve as the impetus behind our calling and mission,“Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (NASB). Consider this mountain miracle: For the third time in the history of the Carolinas, we exceeded our goal of $1 million for evangelism. It happened in 2014, in 2019, and again in 2020, even without the benefit of our largest evangelism funding event, our annual Camp Meeting at Lake Junaluska. We praise Him for these resources we can use to reach every heart for Heaven through the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Enrich Adult Sabbath School Ministry

PRAY AND COMMIT to enrich the Sabbath School programs of our Conference to include an intentional and inclusive focus on all four “heart chambers” of the Adult Sabbath School Ministry.

  • Mission (Through a regular focus on mission stories and utilization of media such as Mission Spotlight or Mission Sonlight) Fellowship (Through a time for testimonials, prayer requests and praises)

  • Outreach (Through an emphasis on witnessing opportunities and stories)

  • Bible Study (Through the utilization of teacher resources and young adults in an in-depth study of the Sabbath School lesson)

To accomplish this, my desire is that we follow the guidance of the world Church and the North American Division to re-establish the term “Sabbath School” in place of “The Church at Study” in at least 50 Carolina churches that will serve as models for the four-fold function of Sabbath School Ministry.

RESULTS: Gradual and steady progress is being made in this area. A quarterly email newsletter has been created for Adult Sabbath School teachers, superintendents, personal ministry leaders, and elders to make them aware of upcoming events, resources, and tools that can help them be successful in their ministry. Sabbath afternoon seminars have been conducted around the Carolinas.

During this six-year term a challenge was made from my office, promising $1,000 to the first five churches who would demonstrate their full commitment to the

Sabbath School ministry of their church by:

  1. Electing a Sabbath School superintendent to oversee the Adult Sabbath School program.

  2. Providing the superintendent’s contact information to the Conference office.

  3. Attending one of our Sabbath School workshops.

  4. Using the terminology “Sabbath School” to describe their classes.

  5. Demonstrating how the church has implemented all four focuses of Adult Sabbath School.

The first five churches who met this challenge were Batesburg-Leesville Three Angels, Arden, Hendersonville, University City, and Tryon.

We continue our challenge to create an atmosphere where Sabbath School is just as — if not more — important than the main worship service in the effectiveness of church ministry.

7. Expand our Publishing Ministry

PRAY AND COMMIT to expanding the work of our publishing ministry in the distribution of truth-filled literature by:

Promoting a visible display of a Glow Tract Rack in every Carolina Church for members to utilize in sharing seeds of truth in every church community across North and South Carolina.

Developing the Magabook program to include and demonstrate a growing number of students from our church schools and academies in our conference territory in conjunction with an annual rate of increased sales.

Supporting the work of our dedicated full-time literature evangelists by adding a full-time field district leader.

RESULTS: HHES has new e-contracts; is reaching the nation/world; is raising funds for our schools; there are new books on cancer, diabetes and addictions; there’s a new book on Daniel & Revelation; and Bible Readings for the Home is being updated as an addition to the new Conflict of the Ages series. These are only a few of the results and other accomplishments which are detailed in the Publishing Department’s report. We praise the Lord for our publishing ministry!

“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. ... The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched” Ellen G. White, Education, page 262.

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