The 31st constituency session of the Atlantic Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists convened on Sunday, August 14, 2022, at the Boxboro Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Boxborough, Massachusetts. The session, originally scheduled for June 2021, was held slightly more than one year later than planned because of health concerns related to COVID-19 and the indoor capacity limitations imposed at the time. Under the theme “United We Will Go,” more than 500 delegates from the six conferences in the Atlantic Union gathered to elect officers and committee members and to receive reports about the work of the church in the Atlantic Union territory for the quinquennial term plus one year (2016-2021).
G. Alexander Bryant, North American Division president, was the devotional speaker for the session. He presented a message titled “The Window is Open.” Using Romans 5:8-10, he focused on the relevancy of the Adventist message for today. “The window of God’s grace is open,” he urged. “Go tell the world!”Officers and Departmental Directors Elected
The delegates elected Pierre E. Omeler to serve as president, a position he has held since November 17, 2021, when he was elected by the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee to succeed G. Earl Knight, who retired. Ted A. Huskins was elected to serve as executive secretary, a position he has held since February 15, 2022, when the executive committee elected him to succeed Omeler. Delegates elected Elias F. Zabala, Sr., to serve as treasurer, a position he has held since he was elected at the June 19, 2016, constituency session.
Six other individuals were also elected to serve the Atlantic Union for the next five years. Delegates elected Jose Joseph to return as Haitian and African ministries vice president, a position he has held since he was elected at the June 2016 constituency session. New to the administrative team is Henry Beras who was elected to serve as the Hispanic and Portuguese ministries vice president. Beras previously served as president of the Greater New York Conference. He succeeds Dionisio Olivo who is retiring.
Delegates elected Trevor Forbes to serve as undertreasurer, a position he has held since 2000. Marlene Alvarez was elected to serve as education director. She previously served as associate education director, a position she was elected to at the June 2016 constituency session. Alvarez succeeds Jerrell Gilkeson who is retiring. Theresa Robidoux, the associate superintendent of schools for the Southern New England Conference, was elected to serve as associate education director. Delegates elected David McKenzie to return as Youth Ministries director, a position he had held since the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee elected him in 2018.
The newly-elected Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee, at its first meeting, will consider all other departmental positions that were not voted at the constituency session.Reports Presented
The delegates received reports from the president, secretary, and treasurer highlighting the work in the Atlantic Union for the past six years. Delegates completed all agenda items, including electing members to serve on the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee, the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and the Association Board.
The Atlantic Union executive officers presented a special report concerning the status of the closure process of Atlantic Union College and selling the properties. After discussing this item, the delegates voted to recommend that the Atlantic Union College administration establish a committee to study the mission possibilities for the college property and report to the college constituency in six months.Other Agenda Items
The Atlantic Union Conference Constitution and Bylaws Committee brought several recommendations to the delegates. Included among the voted actions was the addition of language to allow delegates, when designated by the executive committee, to participate virtually in constituency sessions. Previously, delegates were required to appear in person, which resulted in the need to delay the 2021 session because of health concerns due to COVID-19.
United We Will Go
Over the next five years, the team of administrators and departmental directors will move forward with the work in the Atlantic Union made up of six conferences, with more than 129,189 members who worship in 608 churches and 96 groups; 43 elementary schools and eight academies; numerous community-based ministries, summer camp programs geared to accommodate children, youth, young adults, adults, and the entire family; and several van ministries.
In his remarks at the culmination of the meeting, Omeler thanked the delegates for their patience and vote of confidence in all of those whom they elected. He thanked the North American Division representatives G. Alexander Bryant, president, and Desiree, his wife; Kyoshin Ahn, executive secretary, and Randy Robinson, treasurer; and General Conference Office of General Counsel representative Karnik Doukmetzian, general counsel, who served as parliamentarian, for assisting with the meeting.
Omeler expressed special thanks to the guest musician Jared Fischer, and the entire staff, including the office staff, Medical Cadet Corps, and the technical team.
“We pledge to you as officers that we will work day and night, night and day, to keep this union conference, where we have the cradle of Adventism, focused on mission and evangelism so Jesus can come back and take us home,” Omeler said. “But always remember that this church has only one foundation. As long as we continue to lean on the Lord, we will be fine.”