At the 2019 Conference on Mission, more than 300 attendees from across the country gathered for the 29th annual Conference. Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders, community thought leaders, AdventHealth Board members, and executives and team members came together in Maitland, Florida. The three-day event centered on AdventHealth’s mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.” This year, attendees were challenged to turn their attention forward and outward as they explored what makes faith-based health care relevant and distinct in their communities.
The new focus related to the Conference’s 2019 theme, “Whatsoever You Do…,” which is based on Christ’s words in Matthew 25:35, 36 and 40, where He calls on His followers to show concern for the weak and the vulnerable — the “least of these.”
“We had a different kind of mission Conference this year,” said Ted Hamilton, M.D., senior vice president and chief mission integration officer for AdventHealth. “We gathered not just to talk about mission, but to demonstrate it and to wrestle with the kinds of questions we may not necessarily have answers to.”
Throughout the three days, guest speakers, panelists, and participants discussed the role that faith-based health care plays in society now and in the future. The keynote speaker, David Brooks, a well-known commentator and author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for Moral Life, contrasted the ideas of personal success and meaning, and highlighted moral character as the key to mission-driven leadership.
Ron Smith, D.Min., Ph.D., AdventHealth Board chair and president of the Southern Union Conference, presented a devotion on modeling Jesus’ ministry, which kickstarted a morning of back-to-back panel discussions. During the “Who Is Our Neighbor? What Do We Owe Our Neighbor” session, one of the panelists, Zina Jacque, pastor of the Community Church in Barrington, Illinois, posed the idea of a “poof” test — a test that essentially asks whether anyone would notice if one day we were gone. The sobering thought was accompanied by conversations around what it means to “extend” Christ’s healing ministry, and how it’s not simply about expanding into new markets, but about crossing into new frontiers and doing what the organization has been missionally called to do.
In his response to the panel discussions, Terry Shaw, AdventHealth president/CEO, shared four key takeaways with attendees:
- We are the face of the Church in our community.
- We must think about who we need as partners to address the unmet needs of our community.
- We have to stand in the breach and be present when there appears to be no solutions.
- Something being too hard is not an excuse for not getting it done.
The 2019 Conference on Mission concluded with a Sabbath morning worship service featuring a mission spotlight on AdventHealth’s Global Mission Impact program and its current Bahamas relief efforts, as well as a powerful sermon by Jimm Bunch, president/CEO for AdventHealth in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
“I’ve been a part of AdventHealth for 30 years, and the entire time our mission statement has been ‘Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ,’” Bunch said during his sermon. “It’s an inspired, God-given mission statement. And, up until the last two days, I’ve paid the most attention to the words ‘Healing Ministry of Christ.’ This Conference made me think of the first word, ‘Extending.’”
AdventHealth | November 2019