A Message to Chaplains from Dr. Paul Anderson, Director, Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries–North American Division
The Storm Is Over
I was on a plane recently that flew through a storm. The pilot announced that a storm was ahead and he would divert from the original flight plan to go around and above it. I guess we reached it before he had fully executed his plan. The plane was buffeted a bit, by the storm. Eventually, the plane broke through the darkness into sunshine and calm air. We had risen above the storm. The air was clear and calm.
For the past month the world of Seventh-day Adventism has been roiling with news from the General Conference and North American Division Year End meetings. Most of the buzz has been about the “unity” document. It felt, at times, like we were flying through a storm. The dialogue often represented the polarities of responses to new or recommended iterations of policy, but the spirit of respect and collegiality were always in evidence.
The church has survived, intact! I believe it will continue to survive, and that it will thrive. I am optimistic because I saw our leaders in prayer. Several times, we paused to pray. Sometimes, the prayer was led by one person. Other times we were paired or grouped together in dyads or small groups.
Elder Jackson and other speakers reiterated that women in ministry are appreciated in the North American Division. Female pastors are valued. The North American Division is committed to affirming those who are currently serving in ministry. NAD plans to continue recruiting female ministerial candidates and fully equipping them academically for ministry, while they attend the seminary.
The mere discussion of underlying issues injured some and reinjured some. At times, pain was evident. But, regularly and especially when the Ministerial Department reported about the experience of the pastors who attended the retreat for female pastors in Fort Lauderdale, FL this Summer, the room became electric with hope and enthusiasm. This usually happened when we turned our focus onto the missions external to the administrivia of the agenda. The mission has never wavered. It is, first, last, and best, soul winning and church growth.
I am and must be optimistic that the history of oceanic and atmospheric trends will persist and the dark, threatening cloud of uncertainty will pass. There may be a storm. Rain may fall in torrents. Administrative flashes of lightning may strike and peals of rattling thunder may roll, but the storm will pass and the Son will shine again. When He does, may we be found serving faithfully in our roles as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever our chaplaincies take us.
Chaplains, be of good cheer. Don’t be afraid. We are like the Levitical choir that frequently led Israel’s soldiers into combat. They marched confidently knowing that the battle was not theirs, it was God’s. They trusted divine direction and past victories. The Levites led with conviction that they were on God’s mission. Come what may, they were in the revealed will of God. We must anchor ourselves there as well. Let us sing a song that will cheer us by the way, in a little while we’re going home!