There was joy, wonderful joy when IOUC gave birth to two new conferences from 7-17 October, 2016. South Madagascar Conference was almost ready for the new status three year ago. Unfortunately, their dream was not realized because they suddenly lost all their money when their bank was liquidated. A miracle happened last year. A new company that bought the bank promised to pay the Mission all the money that they had lost. Most of that money has since been paid. This led the mission to proceed with its application for conference status.
The South Mission was established in 1949 with a few hundred members. It has grown to 22 875 members who congregate in 152 organized churches and 202 companies which are cared for by about 55 pastors. An average annual growth rate of 11.4 in the last five years. After Division approval an organizing session was set for 6-10 October, 2016. Elders H Bonya, L Brabant and P Machamire witnessed the joyous occasion on behalf of SID. Pastor Andrianirinasoa Phillippe was voted conference president, Natacha Ludovic the executive secretary and Raninosoa Seraphin the CFO.
The North Conference was organized in 2003 with a membership of 18 000. It has grown to 25 746 who congregate in 393 churches and companies under 27 pastors. The average annual growth rate is 13.2 for the last five years. The organizing session for North Madagascar Conference was on 14-17 October. Elders P Mulambo and G Shumba, H Bonya and P Machamire joined the team that came from the division. The new leaders are Jean Solofo George Mesmert, president, Rabearizara Patricien Executive Secretary and Ravelobia Daniel CFO. The spiritual tone at both sessions was high. The ordination of four pastors was the icing cake in the south session. Before the ordination service four pastors who were going on retirement were introduced, thanked for their dedicated service and prayed for. The union took the newly ordained pastors and their spouses for dinner in a prestigious hotel of that city.
Following were some of the highlights at both sessions:
- Before the session the conference leaders wrote a secular to all churches asking musicians to compose a theme song for the session. A board of judges selected the best song. The composer was given a chance to lead the delegates out in singing the theme song.
- Morning and evening devotions were conducted for delegates as is done at GC Session. The community joined us for the evening devotions.
- The main agenda for the Plans and Resolutions Committee was to come up with a strategic plan for their conferences. Delegates were divided into three groups – Reach In, Reach Up and Reach Out. Each group was responsible for developing a strategic plan for the conference using the union document as their model. They were given a whole day to do this and to report at the end.
- The constitution and by-laws for both conferences were translated into the Malagasy language. This is the only union that does this.
- Before the session closed the new executive secretary read out the session minutes and the delegates voted them as a correct record.
- The sessions were followed by EXCOMs of newly elected committee members. The main agenda was distribution of labor. New district pastors were introduced to the delegates Sabbath afternoon.
- About 80% of the lay people of both conferences are actively involved in the mission of the church
- Most of their schools are staffed with 100% Adventist teachers.
May the Lord grant rich blessings and guidance to these new conferences and help them to spread the good news throughout their territory.
By: Paminus Machamire