January 2016




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ACS Leaders Gather for Empowerment Weekend

Story and Photos by Celeste Ryan Blyden

Lilya Wagner, director of the Philanthropic Service for Institutions for the North American Division, speaks about fundraising resource development.

“Our greatest need right now is vision, so we know how best to serve those who are poor, hurting and disillusioned. Hundreds of thousands of people are in need right now. They’ve lost jobs, and they have other losses that have brought them to a place they’ve never been before,” says Minnie McNeil, Adventist Community Services (ACS) director for Allegheny East Conference. For the past five years, she’s also served as union ACS coordinator and annually provides training for conference ACS directors and church volunteers.

Last weekend 50 of them gathered at the Columbia Union Conference headquarters in Columbia, Md., for an empowerment weekend to network, share resources and talk about the projects they lead locally. “We’re finding that we have a tremendous amount of services being provided across the union—a variety of diverse projects are happening,” says McNeil. “Coming together to share those projects, to share our enthusiasm, to ask our questions and network helps us go back to our given areas and provide a new direction in ministry.”

That new direction was also sparked by the weekend’s speakers: Lilya Wagner, director of the Philanthropic Service for Institutions for the North American Division spoke about fundraising resource development; Steve Willsey, national coordinator of the Adventist Crisis Care Network, talked about crisis care management; Tom Wetmore, associate general counsel at the General Conference, talked about non-profit management; and Bob Mitchell, Potomac Conference ACS director, who reviewed the six areas of community services ministry. They finished their two-day meeting by talking about how to take care for the caregiver “so as to prevent caregiver fatigue.”

Frank Bondurant, union vice president for Ministries Development, hosted the meeting and provided attendees with resources to aid their ministry. “ACS people are the best people in the world,” he says. “They are quite literally the hands, feet, and heart of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Learn more about Adventist Community Services