News

Columbia Union Hosts Spiritual Leadership Symposium

By Celeste Ryan Blyden
Photos by Richard Herard

Some 100 leaders from all over the union recently attended the Columbia Union Conference Spiritual Leadership Symposium, a three-day event designed to provide leaders of conferences, schools, and healthcare networks, as well as those who sit on conference executive committees and college boards, with the skills necessary to lead effectively.

“The leaders of our organizations oversee the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in our territory. We manage millions of dollars and make decisions that affect our members, schools, and ministries,” said union president Dave Weigley. “To do so effectively, we must be competent, mission-focused leaders who know how to govern in today’s culture. That calls for personal growth, leadership development, and further enrichment of our leadership competencies.”

Leslie Pollard, Gordon Bietz, Henry Wright, Lisa Beardsley, and Barry Black were among the well-known keynote speakers and workshop presenters who discussed mission, servant leadership, diversity, education, and soul winning with the 100 leaders in attendance. “You are not in leadership by accident,” said Pollard, vice president of diversity at Loma Linda University in California. “Jesus always anticipated that discipleship would end in leadership, and if you’ve been called to be a disciple, you’ve been called to leadership.”

“If they took away your title and authority, would anyone want to follow your lead?” asked Gordon Bietz, president of Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.

Reactions from attendees affirmed the value of the symposium. “I was quite amazed at the similarities of leadership challenges today with the story of Nehemiah as shared by Dr. Bietz,” said Charlotte Conway, a member of the CUC Board and union executive committee. “It brought home to me how valuable the Scriptures are in helping us understand servant leadership.”

Cynthia Poole-Gibson, headmaster of Pine Forge Academy in Pine Forge, Pa., was also glad for the training. “We need these types of exercises to help us refocus and refresh,” she said. “It reinforces what we need to be doing all the time,” added her colleague Gloria Perry, who serves as associate superintendent of education for Allegheny East Conference.


Richard Bacon, a member of the Dover (Del.) church said he was happy that the meetings reinforced the idea that leadership is not management, but having the vision to move a group of people to a higher goal.

“The church is not an organization, it’s a living organism---a movement that exists to win the world to Christ,” preached Henry Wright, senior pastor of Potomac Conference’s Community Praise Center in Alexandria, Va. “It’s good for us to have these types of meetings because after 150 years, we’re still learning how to do it. We don’t have it nailed down yet, so this coming together, turning it over, and recasting is good!”

Click here www.columbiaunion.org/article.php?id=371 to hear the full presentations from the symposium.