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Fall Meeting Brings Good News

By Celeste Ryan Blyden

At the fall meeting of the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee, members rejoiced over lots of good news coming from the field. Despite the tough economy, several conferences have seen an increase in giving, and overall tithe in the eight conferences that comprise the Columbia Union is up 2 percent! More than 3,600 members joined the church through baptism, profession of faith or letter during the first half of the year. Interestingly, Allegheny East has added 7,800 members to its books due to a membership cleanup process. Their membership now tops 44,000 and has boosted the union’s total membership to 141,301.

President Dave Weigley, who chairs the union committee, welcomed two new members—Ohio pastor Mike Fortune and Chesapeake pastor Jerry Lutz (pictured below). Lutz replaces Rick Remmers who represented Chesapeake pastors on the committee from 2006-2010, but is stepping down because of his new role as executive secretary of that conference. At this, his last meeting, Remmers (pictured below) gave a poignant devotional message on prayer and received an award from Weigley and union executive secretary Neville Harcombe.

Attendees voted a slight change to the union mission statement that will reflect its local and global ministry efforts and to recommend that the North American Division grant denominational status for Ohio’s Walk of Faith Fellowship, which operates as a nonprofit community service to teens, homeless, and others in need at their downtown Cleveland base. They also heard encouraging reports from the union leadership team, administrators from the union’s two healthcare networks, and Washington Adventist University (WAU), where fall enrollment is 1,219—the highest since 1991.