43 Reasons to Praise the Lord
In the Columbia Union, every leader, ministry and entity works to advance the mission
and ministry of Jesus—to be His hands and feet. Our work is done in classrooms,
hospital rooms, Sabbath School rooms and boardrooms. The results are remarkable
and the blessings provide countless reasons to praise the Lord, 43 listed here.
43 Reasons to Praise the Lord
1. Washington Adventist Hospital Breaks New Ground: We saw the Lord’s work during the approval process for the future Washington Adventist Hospital in White Oak, Md. While it was a long journey to get approval, Terry Forde, president and CEO, and his team, remained confident God was leading. The fact that our request received unanimous approval in December 2015 from the Maryland Health Care Commission, affirms the important relationships that have been created with the community that we are blessed to serve. We can see God’s hand in our progress, and we know He will continue to guide as we work toward a 2019 opening for our new hospital.
2. Hispanics Top Multilingual Growth: More than 10,200 people joined the union’s Hispanic constituency bringing their membership to more than 27,400.
3. Union Pathfinder Camporee: In 2012 some 1,600 youth participated in the unionwide Pathfinder camporee held at Camp Mohaven in Ohio. Another camporee experience is planned for this fall.
4. A Display of Faith: Six Kettering hospitals feature murals about God’s creation week in their main lobbies. Leaders are now working to install murals in two more hospitals and in their freestanding emergency centers and network facilities to highlight our faith and beliefs.
5. Washington Adventist University (WAU) Serves: Students found time outside their studies to impact the community by volunteering 20,416 total hours. Two of their projects included conducting VBS programs for 3,300 children and feeding 2,400 homeless people.
6. Kettering College’s 5k raises funds for Good Neighbor House, the Dayton area Adventist Community Services center. This annual charity run, started in 2009, has raised $53,305, $10,340 in 2015.
7. Caring for the Community: Adventist HealthCare’s Faith Community Nurse/Health Ministry Program, founded on the principle that health and healing comes from a wholeness of body, mind and spirit, has 37 area Adventist churches and 122 others engaged in caring for the community.
8. 30 New Church Plants: Frank Bondurant, vice president for Ministries Development, specializes in bringing conferences together to collaborate on projects. He energetically advocated for church planting and assisted conferences in obtaining funds from the North American Division and General Conference Adventist Mission to establish 30 new churches.
9. 60-second Video Devotionals Prove Popular: Since 2013 Kettering:60 has produced a weekly, 60-second video source of inspiration and reflection with hosts who share messages from the Bible. More than 3,000 subscribers watch Steve Carlson and Keren Tanguay on mobile devices; another 800 view their devotionals on YouTube.
10. PrayerWorks! WGTS 91.9 FM, WAU’s media ministry, which draws 500,000 listeners each week and more online, continues to grow and expand. During this quinquennium, they hired a chaplain to minister to their virtual flock. Each week the chaplain and a group of volunteers meet to pray for listeners. In 2012 they expanded this ministry by creating an online network called PrayerWorks! that, so far, has engaged more than 280,000 listeners. They also engage listeners with monthly devotional videos called “Words of Hope,” a weekly worship service called “Gateway Fellowship” and "Night of Hope" evangelism meetings.
11. New Russian Bible: WAU was recognized at the 2015 General Conference Session for its leadership and collaboration with the country of Russia and other denominations in translating the Russian Bible into Modern Russian. Now millions more will be able to read the Bible and understand the word of the Lord.
12. Defending Liberty: Walter Carson, union vice president and general counsel, helped approximately 200 members seek workplace religious accommodations from 2011-2015. He also hosted religious liberty forums, conducted presentations and training events, provided Liberty subscriptions to pastors, supported trust services initiatives and provided legal counsel to union leaders and officers.
13. Students enrolled in REACH, the union’s urban evangelism school, were actively involved in local church ministries during their inaugural year, 2015-16. They gave out more than 400 boxes of food on Sabbaths, tutored over 200 hours and received more than 300 leads for Bible studies. Applications for the 2016-17 urban mission experience, which starts in June, are now being accepted.
14. Welcome, New Members! More than 23,000 new members joined the Columbia Union during the last five years through baptism and profession of faith, bringing total membership to 145,924. Every conference experienced growth including Allegheny East and Potomac conferences-—the two largest conferences in our union.
15. Demonstrating God’s Care: Adventist HealthCare provided more than $77,818,000 in charity care and community benefits in 2015.
16. Tithe is Up: Tithe in 2015 reached a record $126.5 million and total tithe for the last five years topped the previous five-year period by 7 percent.
17. New Website: Both the redesigned corporate website, columbiaunion.org, and the designated Visitor news website, columbiaunionvisitor.com, launched in 2014, are helping us reach more and younger members online. Over 100,000 unique users visited those two sites in 2015.
18. Responding to Crisis: Celeste Ryan Blyden, vice president for strategic communication and public relations, authored Crisis Book Camp, a guide to help church leaders and members communicate effectively during crisis situations. During the past five years, she has been called to help with 57 crisis situations and conduct 13 workshops.
19. New Doctoral Program: Twenty students made history at Kettering College in the fall of 2015 as the inaugural class in the occupational therapy doctoral (OTD) program, the school’s first doctoral program and one of only 21 OTD programs in the United States.
20. Gifts and Trusts: $31,696,582 is the total amount in gift agreements (2011-2015); $13,660,209 is the total five-year amount of gift maturities.
21. New Cancer Center: AHC Shady Grove Medical Center opened the Aquilino Cancer Center in 2013; it’s Montgomery County, Maryland’s only comprehensive outpatient cancer center.
22. Blessing the Hands: AHC’s Pastoral Care department offers the opportunity for a Blessing of the Hands, a yearly dedication service where chaplains pray with healthcare professionals (pictured) to bless their healing ministry to our patients and the community.
23. AHC’s Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness, a national pioneer and leader in the field of infant and child mental health, serves more than 4,000 children and families in the Washington metropolitan area and will expand its services throughout Maryland in the coming years.
24. Making Ministry Possible: The Columbia Union Revolving Fund (CURF), established in 1968, loaned approximately $84.5 million to 300 churches, schools and entities for building projects, renovations or emergency needs.
25. Revitalizing WAU’s Campus: The completion of the new music building in 2012, the first new building in 40 years, was the first of five revitalization projects on campus at the Takoma Park, Md., university. President Weymouth Spence and his team also completed a major renovation to the dining hall, athletic field and student center, and will be breaking ground on a new Health Professions and Wellness Building next month.
26. Chaplains Pray for Patients: AHC’s Pastoral Care Department chaplains counseled and prayed with 67,745 patients and healthcare employees in 2015.
27. Leading the Little Ones: Leaders held the first-ever, unionwide Adventurer/Pathfinder Leadership Convention in 2013.
28. Upgrading Service: During this quinquennium, the union Information Technology (IT) department, directed by Harold Greene, helped seven sites convert to the Adventist Church Web-based accounting software, conducted computer training, implemented server upgrades at two academies and five conferences, and created a network security policy, setting standards for passwords, encryption and data security.
29. Kettering Celebrates 50 Years: Charles F. Kettering Memorial Hospital opened 50 years ago to serve southwest Ohio. Since then Kettering Adventist HealthCare (KAHC), now under the leadership of CEO Fred Manchur, has grown into a thriving healthcare network that includes eight hospitals, 1,783 physicians, 11,968 employees and numerous volunteers. Each year they handle nearly 300,000 emergency visits.
30. Equipping a Mobile Workforce: The Columbia Union Conference started using cloud-based services, where appropriate, to reduce the need for hardware and IT support at local conferences. The IT department has also adapted its services to assist the union’s increasingly mobile workforce, which often uses laptops, smart phones, and other devices and tools.
31. Talking About Freedom: Available free on iTunes, this podcast series hosted by Walter Carson (left), union vice president and general counsel, features conversations about freedom of religion and church-state issues with experts in the field.
32. Historic Vote: At a specially- called constituency session in July 2012, delegates voted an historic motion—“That the Columbia Union Conference authorizes ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” The vote was 209 for and 51 against, with nine abstentions, which means delegates voted 4 to 1 in favor of the motion. To date more than a dozen women have received full recognition for their dedicated service to the cause of Christ.
33. 100,000 Homes Visited: During the school year, REACH students canvassed door to door and distributed 9,000 pieces of literature and prayed with residents of 15,000 homes.
34. Pastors Gather for Renewal and Rejuvenation: More than 700 attended our April 2013 spiritual retreat for pastors and spouses, our first since 2004. For three days, we met together for worship, to participate in workshops, to gather resources and to fellowship over meals. We enjoyed the opportunity to connect with God, our families and colleagues; and receive physical, mental and spiritual nourishment. Many renewed their commitment to Christ’s call and mission and, based on the response, returned to their homes, churches and communities more committed to finish the work in our territory.
35. First Female VP: In March 2014, Celeste Ryan Blyden, who began serving the church as a volunteer 23 years ago, was elected vice president for strategic communication and public relations—a first for women in the Columbia Union’s 109-year history. She frequently speaks at churches and events, is a local elder and member of several boards and committees, and serves as publisher of the Columbia Union Visitor.
36. Hiring More Adventists: AHC and KAHC have become more intentional about recruiting Seventh-day Adventist employees. During the past 18 months, KAHC has added more than 133 church members to its staff and AHC has added 100.
37. Training Teachers: During the past three summers, more than 150 teachers across the K-12 spectrum received Differentiated Instruction training; and more than 100 K-8 educators received multi-grade teacher training. More training is scheduled for summer and fall of this year.
38. Inspiration in Ocean City: More than 2,000 members attended the 2015 Hispanic Festival of Evangelism for worship, fellowship and training. The weekend event also featured a baptism for new believers.
39. Hospital Week of Prayer: Each year KAHC designates a special week of spiritual renewal for hospital employees and patients. Highlights are the video devotional series and a spiritually uplifting booklet offering Bible studies. More than 600,000 booklets have been distributed during the past few years, yielding 265 requests for Bible studies.
40. 57 Weeks of Evangelism and Revival: Convened by Ruben Ramos, vice president for Multilingual Ministries, these meetings yielded 1,283 baptisms. This included the weeklong Caravan of Hope with stops across the union and a total of 626 baptisms.
41. Praying for Educators: The Education department has “prayer partnered” with every union educator, support staff, etc., via prayer letters, in each quinquennium for the past 20 years. “It’s one of my favorite parts of the ministry,” says Hamlet Canosa, vice president for education, who plans to retire in June after 24 years of service in the Columbia Union and a total of 44 for the church.
42. Giving Back: During this quinquennium, we returned more than $2 million to local conferences for ministry and mission, $1 million through the union’s Homeland Missions initiative, coordinated by Frank Bondurant, vice president for Ministries Development. These monies go back to local conferences to fund church ministry programs, outreach projects and mission schools---all designed to share the gospel message. In the last five years, we were able to support 37 projects in cities and towns across the Columbia Union, including Pennsylvania Conference's Simplicity Urban Outreach program in Allentown, Pa.
43. Missions Abroad Provides Help and Hope: Adventist HealthCare and Kettering Adventist HealthCare helped the Columbia Union to advance missions abroad in Argentina, China, India, Vietnam, Liberia and Zambia, etc. In 2013 their donation of $25K to the Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital in India helped the hospital obtain much-needed equipment to perform cataract surgeries. During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Columbia Union Executive Committee voted to donate $25K (matching a General Conference donation) to help Cooper Adventist Hospital in Liberia, keep its doors open.See the Full Constituency Report here: