SPD merges departments into single ministry

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Updated Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wahroonga, New South Wales

We believe we can capture God’s preferred future and become the last day discipleship movement. This team will drive this focus for the SPD.

South Pacific Division (SPD) leaders have developed a new church leadership structure that will see several key departments merge into one overarching ministry.

The new Discipleship Ministries cluster brings together a number of former departments—Family, Women, Youth, Children, Personal Ministries, Sabbath School, Stewardship and Health—under the one banner.

The structure was voted in November 2014 and is being implemented now at the beginning on the new quinquennium (2015-2020).

Former Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) director Dr Leigh Rice was appointed as leader of the new ministry on the second day of the SPD’s Executive Committee meetings held at Division headquarters in Wahroonga (September 8-10). 

Four Discipleship Ministries team members were also appointed—Pastor Trafford Fischer (from Family Ministries), Dr Chester Kuma (from Health Ministries), Dr Nick Kross and Litiana Turner (from Youth Ministries).

The search continues for a fifth team member and funding is reserved for consultants.

The establishment of Discipleship Ministries is a move away from the old model of multiple church departments, where individual leaders took care of their own specific ministry. The new team will work collaboratively on all aspects of church mission. 

“This new Discipleship Ministries team will focus on the Church’s mission statement which is to make disciples with and for Jesus before He returns,” said SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend. “We believe we can capture God’s preferred future and become the last day discipleship movement. This team will drive this focus for the SPD.” 

“Feedback from the Unions was that although the departments at the SPD provided good programs, ideas and materials, there seemed to be no coordination in the message and focus given,” he added. “This new team structure aims to deliver discipleship in a coordinated way.”

A number of other leadership changes were also announced during the second day of meetings.

Dr Carol Tasker will take on the role of Adventist Education director for the SPD. She replaces Ken Weslake, who recently announced his retirement.

Dr Tasker has been serving as associate director of the department since July 2013. Dr David McClintock, Northern Australia Conference Education director and curriculum developer for the Australian Union Conference, will be the new Education director associate.

Pastor Henry Monape was appointed secretary of the PNGUM, with Bob Butler remaining in the role of chief financial officer (CFO).

Bob Larsen was named as the new Trans-Pacific Union Mission secretary. His appointment fills the role left by Pastor Maveni Kaufononga, who was voted into the role of president of the Union. Kingsley Wood was appointed TPUM CFO, but has yet to accept the position.

A new chief executive officer (CEO) was appointed for Adventist Media. Kalvin Dever, previously Business Services director, takes over the position from Neale Schofield, who requested a leave of absence after seven years in the role.

The second day of Executive Committee meetings began on a bittersweet note, with Pastor Townend presenting citations to three long-serving church leaders who recently announced their retirement.

Dr Leon Clark was acknowledged for his years of service as CEO of Adventist HealthCare Limited (which manages Sydney Adventist Hospital), and Ken and Julie Weslake were awarded for their work as directors of the SPD’s Education and Children’s Ministries departments respectively.

There was a great applause from the gathered SPD delegates as they received their citations.

Outgoing San CEO Dr Leon Clark (left) receives his citation from SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend.

Julie and Ken Weslake with their citations.

The second day of meetings also featured reports from several Church entities, including Adventist HealthCare Limited, Avondale College of Higher Education, Adventist Health Foods, Pacific Adventist University and Adventist Media.