As president of the Lake Union Conference, Elder Valentine has been privileged to receive bi-weekly reports from local conference presidents on the issues with which they are grappling relative to COVID-19 and social unrest. After hearing these reports, the Lake Union administration has responded to some of the aforementioned felt needs in our conferences and communities. Before the pandemic, in preparation for General Conference Session, Elder Valentine led out in the incentivizing of inter-conference missional outreach. He led the administration in the vital development of joint activities between Lake Region and the Indiana Conference to enhance collaboration between members from both conferences. After spearheading an effort to secure $300,000 per conference from both the General Conference (GC) and the North American Division (NAD), and then matching their funding from Lake Union in the amount of $200,000, at his direction $150,000 was equally split and given to both conferences to do individual evangelistic endeavors and an additional $50,000 was equally split to be given for any ministry that is conducted by both conferences co-jointly to grow our Adventist presence in Indianapolis. Ultimately, bringing together the resources, skill and gift sets of both conference organizations and the many ministries that surround them with support will make for a better missional outcome as evidenced by joint endeavors from past city-wide missional events in other cities in the NAD.
Also, after having personally extended an invitation to Elder Ted Wilson, our General Conference president, to conduct a reaping meeting in advance of General Conference, the LUC president spearheaded developing a city-wide evangelistic meeting comprised of both conferences in Indianapolis. Meeting with both conference presidents, together they looked at three event centers before mutually agreeing on a meeting place. Thereafter, he met with pastors from one of the two sponsoring conferences for two-and-a-half hours to hear their concerns regarding past feelings of disenfranchisement, a direct result of feeling left out of the planning phases of a previous city-wide evangelistic event. Thankfully, God’s Holy Spirit prevailed at the meeting and the pastors consented to give their support to the joint endeavor with the hope that past mistakes would not be repeated, several stating, “We’ve got to learn to work together.” In turn, Elder Valentine promised to speak to the pastors’ concerns of prior alienation with both conference administrations. Their frayed feelings were communicated to leadership of both conferences in the hope of preventing a repeat of past events. He also apprised both organizations of the concerns raised so that they would be aware of the obstacles that have caused difficulty in the past.
Moreover, Elder Valentine has spoken for a cultural diversity day at one of our major state conference congregations. The work of a union president is to unite, so he also called for a meeting with the NAD in advance of General Conference Session to prepare for this auspicious event. At that meeting, advice was given by Elder Ken Denslow, assistant to the President for the North American Division, that Lake Union Conference, in preparation for the GC, should develop a national steering committee. Elder Valentine respectfully requested, then secretary of the North American Division Dr. Alex Bryant, now serving as president, if he would serve as chair of this committee. He then also asked LUC Vice President Elder Mercado to work as secretary of the steering committee, commensurate with his title as Vice President for Strategy for Lake Union Conference. Elders Bryant and Mercado have worked diligently to grow this committee to what is now 19 ministries working together to prepare for GC, made up of multiple ministries such as Pathway, Breath of Life, It Is Written, NADEI, and many others at the GC and NAD level and, naturally, both local conferences. Bringing ministries together is part of what a union does as the union conference is the connective tissue of the Adventist Church. This is actually what a union does most and best and is in verity, the primary duty of a union conference – that is, to Unite! To this end we will continue a work of uniting our conferences, schools, hospital systems and, most importantly, our laity of all ethnicities to finish the work of reconciliation of man to God and man to man. With this in mind, Elder Valentine has the dubious honor of sitting on the board of multiple health systems at which he has advocated for the hiring of persons of African descent. While not taking credit for recent hires, he is glad to have been, like Edson White, a voice of advocacy for persons who, sometimes, inadvertently or for lack of connection with healthcare institutional leaders, have not had the opportunity to serve in our health systems.
Moving forward, as the official birthplace of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and stewards of the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus Christ has committed into our hands to reconcile man to both God and each other, we are committed to be conduits of Christ-like behavior and catalysts for change as we pray regularly and take actions to undergird three Lake Union executive committee strategies of leadership development, discipleship training and starting a movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches and communities in this quinquennium. We will continue to engage the Adventist faith community by continuing to resource our local conferences and schools, and engaging and encouraging our health systems to continue to hire employees of diverse backgrounds, especially those persons of African descent who are sparsely represented at the leadership level of our multiple health systems.
Maurice R. Valentine
Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist