Business professionals employed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division (SPD) recently convened for a series of insightful presentations, seminars and workshops, to learn from each other and to forge new connections.
The highly anticipated 2023 Business Professionals Convention was held June 5-8 at Port Stephens in northern New South Wales. With the theme “Mission Possible”, the convention brought together 200 delegates from across the SPD, including Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, and representatives from church organisations and institutions such as ADRA, Adventist Media, Adventist schools and retirement villages.
Financial leaders from the General Conference—treasurer Paul Douglas, under-treasurer Ray Wahlen and associate treasurer Tim Aka—provided a global perspective on church finances. Other international guests included Robyn Kajiura, executive director of the General Conference Auditing Service, and James Winegardener, CEO of Adventist Risk Management.
The convention served as a platform for delegates to gain a deeper understanding of the mission and scope of the Adventist Church and their role as accountants, managers, treasurers, CFOs and other business professionals. By exploring innovative strategies and emphasising collaboration, the convention aimed to guide the Church towards growth and change, enabling it to better fulfil its mission and serve the community.
The keynote speaker was social researcher, author and media commentator Michael McQueen, whose presentations were well received. His topic: “Preparing now for what’s next”.
Business, technology, human resources, change management, innovation, insurance, risk and ethics were among the other topics covered. In addition to the professional development opportunities, the convention fostered networking, team building and spiritual reflection among the delegates.
Reflecting on the convention’s success, Peter Cameron, CFO at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia, expressed his satisfaction with the event’s organisation and the calibre of presenters.
“The convention was really well organised, and the quality of the presenters actually exceeded my expectations. It was good to catch up with colleagues and friends—that has not been available for a couple of years.”
Julie Gotaha, treasurer at the Central Papua Conference in Papua New Guinea, appreciated the missional aspect.
“The convention was mission focused and different from previous ones I have attended,” she said. “I learned that there should be a refocus on the mission to the frontline. There is no other greater frontline than the local church. Mission is possible because God is powerful and God is present.”
Trans Pacific Union Mission CFO Fraser Alekevu said the convention was a “transformative experience”. “It was a convergence of faith-driven professionals, where connections were forged, networks expanded and knowledge shared,” he said. “It made me feel motivated that learning new things and meeting new people can lead to success.
“The convention was filled with smart and talented people who shared their knowledge and experiences, where we learned from each other, combining biblical principles with business knowledge. I left the event feeling inspired and determined to do well in my role as a financial leader in my organisation. The convention has had a big impact on me, giving me the tools, insights, knowledge and connections I need to succeed as a business professional in God’s service. This convention showed me that with God’s leading, anything is possible.”
The SPD Business Professionals Convention is usually held twice a quinquennium, but due to COVID interruptions has only been convened once this quinquennium.