A recent online search revealed the fascinating (to me—sorry to all you normal people out there) fact that there are at least eight different methods for multiplying two numbers together: addition method, long multiplication, grid method, drawing lines, partial products, area model, and lattice. Wow! (Of course, as soon as I saw this, I wanted to understand all the different methods.) Ultimately, they are all just different ways of thinking about accomplishing the same thing. But different methods seem more intuitive to different individuals.
As your General Council gathered at the SDB Center in Janesville, Wisconsin this past weekend to consider how we as Seventh Day Baptists are multiplying together, our different methods were on full display. Our fearless leader, Executive Director Carl Greene, had previously facilitated the process for each of us to identify our strengths through the CliftonStrengths assessment. It was quite revealing to understand a bit more about what makes each of us tick and how we approach vision, process, problem-solving, relationships, communication, etc. We also enjoyed getting to know our new secretary, Lauren Kinlocke. Obviously, the General Council is a miniature-sized microcosm of the Conference as a whole, and we need to continue to capitalize on the diversity of strengths we possess together as a conference.
During our time together, we were able to collaborate through our strengths to consider the kingdom-building activities going on around the Conference, including updates and reports from Directors, Councils and Allied Societies, internal and external grants, development of emerging leaders, and plans for our long-awaited upcoming Conference Week gathering at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We also had the privilege to dream into the future a bit about how God will use the variety of strengths around the Conference to help us multiply together in the areas of healthy leaders, healthy churches, young and startup churches, public witness, and rest.
A couple of highlights of the weekend for all of us were two field trips. One took us on the road an hour north of the Center to Portage, WI where we were thrilled to join with Pastor Debbie Tank and the Outreach Bible Church for their Sabbath morning worship. The church was hosting their annual spring revival meetings, so we were treated to a guest speaker and amazing food and fellowship (did I mention the taco bar?). This is a church that has gone through some difficult times but is committed to making a comeback because they serve “The God of the Impossible” (their revival theme).
A second highlight was the opportunity to tour the Milton House Museum, a hotel that served as a certified Underground Railroad station. The museum celebrates its connection with SDBs through its creator, Joseph Goodrich, an SDB frontiersman who helped found the town. Coming face to face with part of our history that had thrust us to the forefront of issues of racial equality in the mid-1800s was not only eye-opening and affirming but also challenged us to dream a bit about how we can lead the way in multiplying opportunities together for God’s justice today and into the future.
Thank you for trusting us to serve as your General Council. We look forward to seeing all of you at General Conference.
Multiplying together with you,
Andrew, Ericessen, Erin, Maura, and Steve