Delivered by Sandra Roberts, newly elected president, at the close of Constituency 2013:
Today has been a long day.
I want to thank you for your focus, your calling, your affirmation, and dedication.
You deserve gratitude for the work you have done today.
You have voted with conviction and with the leading of the Holy Spirit on all of the issues placed before you today. Again, thank you. God is at work!
And while today has been a long day, it is simply the first of many long days to come as we continue to prayerfully and intentionally look forward to following Jesus together.
The call to follow Jesus is one that we take seriously and we want to make sure that we are hearing the collective revelation that God is placing on the hearts of the Seventh-day Adventist church in this region, in North America and the world.
We as a church have been called to a special message in these times…to reveal the character of God through deep adherence to the command to love God and to love our neighbors, both in beliefs and in tangible responses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our honor and privilege as members of Southeastern California Conference to serve as a part of our world church as we collectively seek to influence and impact the world with the message.
God has placed us here, in this region, for a very particular purpose. The fact that we are here in the Inland Empire, San Diego, Desert Regions and Orange County is not an accident. God has a work for us to do, and this work has its roots in the orange groves of Riverside that stretch to Redlands, the beach cities of our coast, the rocky terrain of our deserts, the cool and refreshing air of our mountain communities, and even besides the congested freeways that riddle our landscape. God has called us here to be salt and light, hope and healing, faith and action, mercy and compassion! God has called us here to proclaim loudly this message of Hope of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Kingdom of God.
As we follow Jesus, we are reminded that when Jesus was on earth, he took a bowl and a basin and he redefined greatness. He was a God with dusty and dirty feet and every step he took was a step of love, healing and wholeness. We are called to be churches and schools that move beyond the church walls and into the geographic locations of our calling.
Following Him means getting our feet dirty with the dust of southern California.
I am excitedly optimistic and hopeful about our future here in Southeastern California Conference. I am full of anticipation of what can happen as we work together in all of our diversity. It is one of our many strengths.
And this diversity will continue to unite us in mission, while the expressions of that mission may be vast and varied. Southeastern California Conference has always been a conference that values and creates space for each church, school and ministry to find its voice and mission. The conference needs to continue to encourage, support, and amplify that voice. We can amplify each other’s voices collaboratively!
While always maintaining orthodoxy, we need to encourage and enable thoughtful approaches to the ever changing world around us.
I believe that we are to be a conference that must increasingly reflect the fullness of who God is, with excellence, with creativity, with passion, and without fear.
Without fear that our differences will pull us apart but recognize that our differences add to the heavenly music and strengthen all of us. We can be a symphony and our region can resound with a heavenly song as we follow Jesus, to this we have been called and placed!
We want to dream God’s dreams for our conference. This will be a step by step process of intentionally hearing what God is revealing to all of us. Continuing the work of Jesus in our region is not a top-down process, but a process of listening and discerning God’s dreams for us together, where every voice is valued and heard. We are committed to listening and to that end you will see us in your churches, in your schools. We are committed to an administration that goes beyond the walls of the conference office and into the churches and communities we serve. We will vision together.
Following Jesus into our future also means that we must prayerfully and intentionally make difficult administrative decisions when it comes to priorities, funding, and personnel. There are times when decisions will have to be made based on priorities and values we have identified through a step by step process and we are willing to make those tough decisions together as long as they are based on our standard of “following Jesus.” We will make mission driven decisions.
Christ will always be our anchor point as we pray through the difficult responsibilities administrators are often called to carry out. We covet your prayers, understanding, and graciousness. These will always be our greatest assets as we seek to follow Jesus in our leadership.
Today, as we begin the process of discerning the next steps Jesus is calling us to. We want to begin the process by listening. We want to ask you a few questions, but it will not end here. We will keep asking questions, keep dialoging together, keep evaluating information, and plan together.
We will be intentional about the process. As we gather information we will assess it, and ask “what are we going to do about it” and come up with actionable steps. Some call this strategic planning. We are committed to planning in dialogue and not a top down monologue.
What are we going to do with the information we get from you as we dialogue? We will prayerfully, intentionally, and collaboratively go through a process together of discerning how we can, in our time, in this place, best continue to cultivate and to grow the work that God has for his church and for us!
God is at work! We will follow step by step.