Camp Meeting 2018 Inspires Church to Give Unstintingly
Hundreds of Adventist church members gathered at the Lions Centre January 12-14 for the three-day convention featuring South African Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Zukisani Mxoli. The evangelist’s inspiring charge to members was that they should give unreservedly, even in the face of sometimes formidable resource challenges.
In line with his inspiring message, Grand Cayman’s Keynote Speaker Evangelist Zuki, as he is affectionately known in his hometown of Johannesburg, has acquired a creditable record of philanthropy. He has achieved this largely through joint professional and ministry initiatives in the area of church, educational and medical facilities that extend into more than seven countries, with financial contributions ranging from 50% to 100% of project costs.
The annual convention had as its theme, “If I can Help Somebody…,” and set the tone for Cayman’s Adventist Church’s continued community welfare emphasis set in 2016 for the current four-year term.
Continuing to Little Cayman (Wednesday and Thursday, January 17 & 18) and Cayman Brac (Friday to Sunday, January 19-21), the 2018 conventions retained the philanthropic challenge though it did not feature Evangelist Mxoli as planned. Unfortunately, Evangelist Mxoli had to return home due to the sudden and tragic death of a close relative.
Taking Evangelist Mxoli’s place on the Sister Islands was Pastor Kevin Danvers, who joined the Cayman Conference mid-2017 from the Central Jamaica Conference where he had served as Secretary. Conference colleague Pastor Maurice Chambers spoke on the final Sunday on Cayman Brac.
Joining the Cayman Conference for Camp Meeting 2018 was Union President Dr. Leonard Johnson and Union Secretary and Treasurer, Pastor Peter Kerr and Mr. Roderick Sands, respectively.
Setting the stage for Camp Meeting 2018, architect, lay preacher and evangelist Mxoli succeeded in energising Grand Cayman’s congregations with a rallying call to all the laity to “unite their efforts with ministers and church officers.” He called upon all to strengthen their faith and to leave everything in God’s hands, as “[T]hose who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.”
Among the other inspirational speakers during the weekend on Grand Cayman were Pastor Ivor Harry, who delivered the message on Sabbath afternoon at a 3 pm workshop, and President Shion O’Connor, who followed with the charge to a new slate of officers for 2018 during the 4 pm youth installation and consecration service.
Pastor Harry challenged members to follow Jesus’ examples by going fearlessly forward into areas that are often shunned as disreputable and to become involved in practical ways in the lives of those we are seeking to reach. “Some people will never come to the church,” he said, but helping people in practical ways, such as visiting the sick in hospitals and opening up cupboards, will open doors.
“Even when it appears impossible to reach certain strata of society,” Pastor Harry said, “when we are turned on and trusting God to use us… we can turn this place upside down.” Indeed, Pastor Harry said, “The world is waiting to see a church that is open to everyone.”
During the Sabbath afternoon youth service, youth leaders presented highlights of their role and work in 2017, and the 2018 executive committee of the Youth Federation was inaugurated.
Pastor O’Connor officiated during the youth consecration service during which he highlighted the dual role of ministry. Preaching from Acts 6:1-2, Pastor O’Connor pointed out that ministry in the early church involved not just the preaching of the word but also the “serving of tables”—the Bible’s expression for the caring for the needs of members.
Pastor O’Connor pointed out that it was the need to take care of the members that necessitated the organization of offices in the church, and that the first officers were elected as table servers or caregivers. Hence “table serving” must remain a priority in God’s church, he said.
A major highlight on Sabbath during the Grand Cayman convention was a celebration marking the church’s 6,000th membership milestone, achieved in the last quarter of 2017. The Union officers led out in the recognition of this historic moment in the more than a century since the Church’s beginning in 1905.
Other highlights of the Grand Cayman convention included a review of the community services work in the Conference as well as a focus on the role of ASi Cayman in the local Adventist business community.
Lord, Transform Me also took centre stage, with a focus on its 2019 Reaping Campaign to be held in Cayman.
In the ceremonial finale of the 2017 In-Gathering Campaign, a number of churches and individuals were recognised. These included the Kings Church, for achieving top dollar value, and Berea, which achieved the highest percentage of the Conference-designated church goal. Also recognised were Ms Grace Langley, from the Maranatha Church, and Ms Carmelita Jackson, of the East End Church, who tied for highest individual collection.
Inspiring music was a prominent aspect of Camp Meeting 2019, and this year was no exception. The centrepiece for the weekend’s musical repertoire was the mass choir that sang at every service, alternately directed by Mrs. Theodecia Sonlin-Sanderson and Ms Lisa Pearce. Other moving musical performance were given by the Men’s Chorale, under the direction of Mr. Mark Hamilton, the joint Praise Team, Women of Purpose, among others.
Communication to members and the Cayman public in general was a key aspect of Camp Meeting 2018. Services on Grand Cayman were broadcast live via the Conference’s radio station Praise 87.9, the CATV television channel, and live-streamed on the Conference’s website. On Cayman Brac, services were live-streamed as well as broadcast on Praise 87.9.
The Church expressed its gratitude to regional telecommunications company, Flow, which provided gratis the bandwidth necessary for live broadcasts on radio and TV from the Lions Centre on Grand Cayman.
Jamaican gospel singer and song writer Carey Sayles last Saturday afternoon (22 July, 2017) electrified a capacity audience at the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church as the feature artiste in a three-hour gospel concert.
Mr. Sayles was in Cayman for a free performance in support of the church’s youth ministry.
The packed church clapped, waved, sang and otherwise showed their delight in response to the high-energy style of artiste Sayles. The musical experience as he belted out several medleys and songs over the course of the afternoon’s musical extravaganza was made even more moving by interspersed snippets of his life story.
That story is one of particular determination and deep faith despite often devastating obstacles, rising today as he has to the heights of a musical career and establishing himself as a professional in the Jamaica public service.
Growing up in the Arnett Garden area of Trench Town, he survived to tell the tale of several close death experiences: “I saw men killed and most of my friends turning to guns,” he said, “but because of my mother’s and stepfather’s care and guidance, and the protection of my Heavenly Father, I was able to resist the forces of evil.”
So instead of succumbing to the pressures of an environment that has had such deadly impacts on young lives, today he is a graduate of the Mandeville-headquartered Northern Caribbean University, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is now a supervisor at the Jamaica National Housing Trust.
Praise 87.9 radio station took a moment on Wednesday (19 July) to wish Radio Doctor Andy Shillingford well as he departs Cayman for his next tour of service, this time in the UK where he will join the British National Health Service.
As a token of appreciation, Conference Executive Secretary Pastor Reinaldo Dracket presented a plaque to Dr. Shillinford in recognition of his four years’ service to the Conference’s radio station.
“Your service as radio doctor has enriched lives,” Pastor Dracket said, thanking him on behalf of the Conference and the community at large and wishing him well for the future.
Dr. Shillingford served on the popular once weekly “Doctor’s Orders,” programme since 2013, and departs tomorrow (20 July) for the UK. His wife Mrs. Angeline Shillingford served for several years as the president of Cayman Academy’s Home School Association (HSA). Dr. Shillingford leaves Cayman after eleven years’ service with the Health Services Authority.
“It’s been a good eleven years,” he said. “I have enjoyed the community and the people and I am going to miss Cayman.” Of his role on Doctor’s Orders, he said: “It has been fun,” adding: “I have enjoyed working with Dwayne”, the host for the programme and the station’s manager.
The Cayman Brac community enjoyed its first health fair organised by the Adventist Church’s Community Services Department in collaboration with national and local private and public support.
The large contingent of nearly 50 Grand Cayman volunteers joined forces with the Brac’s volunteers in a three-day community outreach programme during which they launched the health fair. The volunteers arrived on Friday evening, 16 June, and departed on Monday, 19 June.
“It was truly a collaborative effort involving businesses and individuals on the national and local levels and the many hardworking volunteers on both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac,” said Associate Director Angela Hall. Coordinating the Cayman Brac volunteer effort leading up to the visit was Brac Community Services Leader Neila Jones.
The Associate Director especially noted the contribution of Brac MLAs and Cabinet Ministers, the Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Deputy Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, who jointly funded one night’s accommodation for the Grand Cayman’s contingent’s at the Brac’s Esperanza Guest House. She also thanked Esperanza’s Manager Rochelle Smith for special discount rates.
The protection of children from dangers lurking on the Internet and ways in which adults and organizations can mitigate potential for abuse of children were key aspects of a special joint meeting of all Adventist churches on Saturday, 13 May, at Kings Church.
The meeting with local and international speakers from business and child services sectors was convened as part of the church’s observance of Child Month.
The main presenters at the meeting were Ms Daisy Montes de Oca, an account executive with responsibility for risk management from the world headquarters of the Adventist Church in Washington, DC, and Mr. Rudy Myles, Flow Caribbean Regional Fraud Manager based in the Cayman Islands. Ms Montes de Oca was invited to Cayman by the President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, Pastor Shian O’Connor.
Other speakers at the afternoon’s Child Month observance were Mrs. Felicia Robinson, Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and Mrs. Cereta McDonald, Director of the Adventist Conference’s Children & Adolescents’ Ministries, under whose umbrella a full slate of Child Month activities has been organized.
Commenting after the meeting, Ms Montes de Oca said, “This has been a very timely meeting,” and added: “The churches need to be involved in child safety, and I am impressed that the Cayman Islands Conference takes child safety and risk management seriously and is taking steps to ensure that the proper procedures are in place.”
Aall Foundation Contributes to Manna Centre
The Aall Foundation has contributed US$15,000 to support the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre, a community medical, social welfare and legal advisory agency expected to open later this year in the Savannah area. The agency will also administer a depot for storage and distribution of dry goods, clothing and medication.
“I have seen the Aall Foundation change and save lives on a global basis,” said Mrs. Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris law firm and a ten-year director of the foundation. Mrs. Harris said that the contribution is being made with the hope that the Manna Centre would “thrive and flourish.”
The Manna Centre will serve needs within its scope to anyone in the Cayman Islands requiring them. Though initiated by the Adventist Conference, it will be independently incorporated and administered as a non-denominational agency serving all residents regardless of religious affiliations.
The donation on behalf of the Aall Foundation was presented to Conference Treasurer John Wesley on Saturday (22 April).
Presenting the gift, Mrs. Harris said that she overcame her initial scepticism about the realism of a project of this scale as she is aware that the Adventist Church leaders are “themselves led by faith and not by sight.” So when she met with the foundation’s board of directors and explained the centre’s aims and objectives, the board moved “without hesitation” to contribute $15,000, Mrs. Harris said.
Expressing appreciation, Conference Executive Secretary Reinaldo Dracket described the cheque presentation as a “proud moment of recognition of the important work of the Manna Centre.” He said it was the second major donation to be made to the project by a Cayman Islands philanthropic organisation.
“We are delighted this afternoon that we are again witnessing the generosity of Cayman’s business and charitable organisations to the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre,” he said.
Giving a status report to the Conference-wide gathering of churches on Saturday, the Conference administrator remarked on the encouraging agreements that had been reached with cadre of doctors, nurses, pharmacist, other registered health practitioners, and legal and social welfare professionals, who have volunteered their services to the operations of the Manna Centre.
Indeed, Administrator Dracket said that the Manna Centre was modelled on the philosophy of the early Christian Church, as described in the biblical book of Acts, that “each man should give freely so that no one lacked anything.”
As such, the humanitarian work of the Manna Centre offered today’s Christians “an opportunity to demonstrate that [they] are disciples of Christ,” he said, in the same way that the Aall benefactors had risen to the challenge to be “true practitioners of the command to be our brother’s keepers.”
The Aall Foundation, which supports charities on a global scale, was established in the Cayman Islands in 1982 on behalf of Norwegian benefactors who had made fortunes in shipping.
Executive Secretary Dracket invited church members to become active participants, also, either through volunteering their services or contributing financially.
Mrs. Sophia Harris, Managing Partner of Solomon Harris and a Director of the trustee for the Aall Foundation, presents a cheque to Conference Treasurer John Wesley. At left is Conference Executive Secretary Reinaldo Dracket.
Discipleship Convention Promotes Member Retention
The Adventist church body recently (April 8) met for an internal review of best practices at Kings Church as a way to strengthen retention of members at the conclusion of evangelistic campaigns. The meeting sought to pre-empt attrition rates that are being experienced by churches worldwide.
As a key strategy to strengthen retention, the Cayman Islands Conference announced at this meeting that it had appointed Elder Joshua Lawrence, who is also the Assistant Personal Ministries Director, as its first Retention Director.
While appointing Elder Lawrence to this new leadership role, however, President Shion O’Connor hastened to drive home the message that it was the responsibility of all members to ensure that they create and sustain an environment that is conducive to retention. Pastor O’Connor drew on the parable of the ninety-and-nine sheep which the shepherd left behind in the fold to pursue the one lost sheep.
“The Conference continues to be troubled by the number of persons walking the streets” who are not being reached by focused discipleship strategies, Pastor O’Connor said.
In his introductory remarks, Pastor Jeff Jefferson reminded members that retention or discipleship was complementary to evangelism, and that in the same way that evangelism was everyone’s business, so was retention.
Pastor Jefferson urged continuing emphasis on involving new members in the work of the church: “God has gifted new members with spiritual gifts and these should be brought to bear on the work of the church” as a matter of urgency, the Personal Ministries Director for the Conference said. “We need to step back and allow the new members to show their talents.”
In reviewing statistics gathered by the Adventist church’s headquarters in the US, it was particularly troubling, Pastor Jefferson said, that two-thirds of those who gave up the church were in the category of young adults. When you add to this group those who leave in middle age, then you get a concerning picture of declining interest among younger age groups.
In analysing the reasons that people leave, Pastor Jefferson said that the key issue for many was that they did not find church to be “a kind and loving place;” instead, many reported they often experienced breakdown in relationships in the church or failure in forming meaningful relationships.
Offering hope, however, was the fact that the majority of persons who had lost inspiration reported a willingness to return to church if they were approached properly. And that approach was grounded, he said, in members’ ability to communicate “that we care about them,” adding, “It is not programmes that keep people; it is people who keep people.”
Pastor Jefferson identified factors conducive to sustained membership such as strong relationship capacities among members, conflict management skills, visitation and support programmes, new member involvement, and an emphasis on Adventist education.
“The foundation years, rooted in Adventism,” were among some of the most influential in determining whether members are retained or not, Pastor Jefferson said. Another key factor was the building of strong relationships, especially with persons who appear to be avoiding relationships.
Part of the the Sabbath afternoon’s programme was a panel discussion among two separate groups – Personnel Ministries and Retention leaders on the one hand and new members on the other.
Among highlights of strategies now being practised, the Personnel Ministries leader at the Maranatha Church reported that all church members were divided into teams and that the teams operated on the basis that “Jesus brought me in, but love keeps me here.” The Bodden Town church has regular fellowship lunches, prayer groups and visitation teams who frequently check up on new members.
The West Bay church reported that they have an active singles’ ministry and that they had adopted the philosophy that it was their duty to love members “twice as much” as anyone might have expected. They also emphasised that “Christ-like” behaviour of members was critical. Once a month, the Filadelfia Church does a 5K walk that reaches out to the community to join them. The Creek Church’s Personal Ministries leader said that that church was working towards a cohesive atmosphere, adding that communicating a sense of “protection” was a strong connective force, and that he was “willing to be the hedge of protection” for other members.
Meanwhile, the new members, some of whom demonstrated their musical and other talents earlier in the programme, described a family atmosphere at one church, where hugs are regularly dispensed. Another reported generous dollops of fellowship, including opportunities to share problems and challenges in a quiet room where members sometimes cry together.
A selection of new members offered their perspective on qualities and actions that make church environments welcoming.
Elder Joshua Lawrence appealed for support of church members following the announcement of his appointment as the Conference's first Retention Director. Conference President Shion O’Connor is at left.
Pastor Jeff Jefferson encouraged the congregation to take the view that member retention is everyone’s business.
Fund Back-to-School Needs
More than CI$8,000 has been distributed by the Community Services Department of the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church to 10 schools on Grand Cayman to cover back-to-school needs such as tuition, books, lunch and uniforms for 40 children.
Accepting the cheque for distribution to schools, Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith said: “On behalf of the Department of Education Services and the Ministry of Education, I thank the Community Services Department of the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church for its generosity in helping our students and their parents to prepare for the new school year.” The Chief Education Officer added: “It is commendable that the Church supports ventures such as these and I am sure that the families are very appreciative of the support.”
Mrs. Elsie Myles, the coordinator of a team of community service volunteers who made the donation possible, said that she and her fellow volunteers had become aware of back-to-school needs of children while engaged in other community service activities. The George Town Church also operates a soup kitchen and delivers about 500 cups of soup weekly to shut-ins, a group comprising mainly elderly and infirm persons. The community service agency also delivers 80 food bags each month.
Cayman Academy Continues its Upward Growth Trend
By Patricia Ebanks, Communication Director; Cayman Islands Conference
Last weekend (Saturday, 25 June) 18 students graduated from Cayman Academy, up from last year’s eleven, with forecasts of a 26-member final year class in 2017. The commencement exercise took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
With a waiting list of 112, more than a third of its current enrolment of 328, the school announced a summer building programme that will result in two new classrooms to accommodate an additional class each for Grades 1 and 7. Also announced were expanded offerings in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) programme, and a fall 2016 launch of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for post Grade 12 students.
The academic achievements of the school’s students were on display during the graduation ceremony, with ten of the eleven students of the Class of 2015 recognized as “honour students.” The ten qualified for this achievement by passing eight or more subjects in the CSEC examinations at grades 1 to 3. One student, Chamelle Williams, passed eleven subjects.
Indeed, quality education was a recurring theme at the 2016 Cayman Academy graduation ceremony, with Board Chair Shion O’Connor announcing the introduction of an Academic Quality Control Committee to monitor curriculum and instruction for the 2016/17 academic year.
Responding to this announcement, Minister of Education, the Hon. Tara Rivers, who brought greetings at Saturday’s graduation exercise, said that this “well aligned” the school with new legislation aimed at ensuring quality in the delivery of educational services in all schools.
But the stars for the evening were this year’s 18-member class, headed by Valedictorian Matthew Harvey, who copped award after award for academic and social achievements.
Indeed, the values imbued by the school during their years at the institution were reflected in the parting words of Valedictorian, who encouraged his fellow graduates to exercise care in every decision they made: “Our lives are like streams and so our futures are determined by every decision we make, whether great or small.”
He ended with advising classmates to “…excel at whatever you do by putting God first. In that way, you will continue to carry the torch high for the world to see that your alma mater has prepared you well. Make good decisions and allow God to guide you as you do so.”
Meanwhile, Salutatorian Edwards reminded her fellow graduates that “regardless of what the situation is or where the issue lies, one may not necessarily always be able to immediately resolve the problem.”
In those cases, she said, “Instead of becoming frustrated and worried over what we cannot control, be the change you wish to see through your actions, and encourage others to follow your example.”
Miss Edwards reminded her classmates to always give their “best shot” in whatever they strive to do. She advised also that when “people try to close the door on you … just grab that handled and pull or push --- do whatever it takes to open that door.”
Keynote speaker for the evening, Mr. Roy Bodden, president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, reflected in his address to the graduates, as well, an emphasis on moral virtue. He spoke to the importance of upholding and reinforcing moral virtue across all sectors of the society, especially in the family, which bears the primary responsibility, he said, noting: “If the family continues to decline, then the society will decline.”
Mr. Bodden exhorted the graduates to demonstrate moral virtue by being true to themselves, and to work to transmit these values to future generations so that they will be even better.
In the process of supporting student achievements across the board, Board Chair O’Connor said that the school would be establishing a scholarship offie to facilitate access by students to all available scholarships on offer in Cayman and elsewhere.