The first-ever SDB Emerging Leaders Seminar Series took place in Janesville, WI, from October 27 to 29. Twenty young adult leaders from twelve Seventh Day Baptist Churches spent the weekend sharpening one another’s call to mission in the local church, in surrounding communities, in the SDB General Conference, and to the ends of the earth.
The weekend was full of high-quality content from instructors, relationship building among participants, and leadership leveraging. What I mean by leadership leveraging has to do with who the emerging leaders are—they are already serving as leaders in the present. At the same time, they are emerging in the sense of having the capacity for increasing influence and Kingdom impact as they continue to faithfully serve God. Simply put, we are blessed as Seventh Day Baptists to have a dynamic group of young leaders who are already leading, and poised to increase that capacity all the more.
Details and practical matters of the inaugural launch of this initiative were aptly coordinated. Miriam Berg (SDB Missionary Society Director of Advancement and Operations) shaped the weekend into an experience that drew on the strengths of the Visiting Instructors while building opportunities for participant collaboration and engagement. Jan Ehlers (SDB General Conference Administrative Assistant) drew together a host of logistics that made the weekend possible.
The content was led by Pastor Kingsley Gauti, National Youth Director of the Malawi General Conference, and Pastor Quistin Chalwe, General Secretary of the Zambia SDB Conference. These gifted instructors participated in the SDB Visiting Instructor Program this fall through a collaborative partnership between the SDB Missionary Society, the SDB Memorial Fund, the SDB Africa Bible College, and the SDB General Conference of USA and Canada. As participants in the SDB Africa Bible College, Pastor Kingsley and Pastor Quistin undertook a four-week tour of the Midwest and Southeast of the United States to preach, teach, undertake evangelism, and lead the Emerging Leaders Seminar Series. Be on the lookout for more details about the impact of their mission to the North American continent!
Over the course of the weekend seminar, the Visiting Instructors presented topics such as: how we view God, how we share God with our neighbors, how the Gospel shapes society, and how the Gospel shapes the world. We also joined the Milton SDB Church for worship Friday evening where the SDB Visiting Instructors gave a rousing presentation about the ministry underway in Africa. On Sabbath Day, we participated in Milton SDB’s “Heritage Sabbath” worship service which focused on the theme of revival.
Our sessions on Sabbath day were held at the SDB Center in Janesville, WI. This was the first time that a majority of the emerging leaders had been inside the Center, which provided the added benefit of sharing our SDB missional identity that is clearly told through the stories of the SDB Museum and artifacts.
On Sunday, we met at the Milton House. This setting chronicles SDB activity in the Underground Railroad and community-shaping activity that flows from convictions. Nick Kersten (Director of Education and History) spoke about our identity as Seventh Day Baptists given this historical location. This was a springboard for the Instructors to share about how the gospel changes our society and our world when lived out. John Pethtel (Director of Church Development and Pastoral Services) talked about how the attending emerging leaders are currently leaders and will be “emerging” throughout their lives. He provided a stirring invitation to engage all the more in the missional work of SDBs while participating in SDB leadership development opportunities.
The Emerging Leaders Seminar Series is just that—a series of events and networking that has now launched. We are so grateful for generous ministry partners who have given financial gifts to make this ongoing work possible.
The Rev. Alton L. and Ethel Wheeler Leadership Development Fund was created by a generous ministry partner in memory of a couple who shaped, equipped, and mobilized a significant number of SDB leaders. Just as the Wheelers discipled and mentored many emerging leaders, the Fund will be used to prepare our current and next generations of SDB ministry leaders. What an opportunity we have in this season of ministry!
There is more great news to share. Throughout the month of October, we undertook a campaign to invite ministry partners to give financial gifts to further the work of the Fund. The financial gifts throughout the month of October were matched by the SDB Memorial Fund, dollar for dollar. Generous givers who partnered in the work of equipping and missionally sending young SDB leaders surpassed our dream for this campaign. Over $25,000 was given to this fund during the month of October. That means, with the Memorial Fund match, over $50,000 has been raised for SDB Leadership Development.
Thank you for partnering in this incredible season of ministry opportunity. Thank you for continuing to invest in today and the future.