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Union ASI Chapter Hosts Convention in New Jersey

Story and photos by Celeste Ryan Blyden

Members and supporters of the Columbia Union chapter of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (CUASI) recently gathered at Allegheny East Conference’s Trinity Temple in Newark, N.J., for their annual convention. Sabbath was the highlight of the two-day event. For Sabbath School, several of the chapter’s 69 members shared testimonies about how God is using them to witness in the marketplace while others set up exhibits that featured their ministries. Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, shared the worship message. "If you think today there is no urgency to be ready to meet Jesus, then you have been deceived," he said. He called on attendees to share Christ where they are -- in the marketplace, at home and at work, etc. After lunch, some church members stayed by for training in hosting home-based DVD evangelism meetings.

“As laborers for God serving as CEOs, presidents, professionals, ministry leaders and directors, God has called each of us to a higher, nobler work,” said Denise Hayden, a business owner and president of the chapter, explaining the meeting theme “Workmen and Workwomen Worthy of Their Hire.” Though she’s been serving as president for almost 10 years, Hayden was easily re-elected and surrounded by a team of enthusiastic officers (pictured) who will lead for the next two years.

One of them is Emanual Pelote, a member of Potomac's Millennium Ministries church in Silver Spring, Md., who is excited to be a part of CUASI and its new leadership team. He owns Symplicity Networks, a Washington, D.C.-based company that designs software to help business, healthcare, education and government organizations run more efficiently. "I believe that the Lord gives us all of our resources so that we can glorify His name and serve Him," he says. "ASI is a community of people that are all about serving the Lord using what the Lord has given them to serve the world."

Like Pelote, Daniel Reed wants to give back to the Lord through his business. He traveled from Ashburn, Va., where he and his wife own a flooring company and attend Potomac's Vienna (Va.) church. "When I was 15, I attended an ASI convention," he recalls. "My goal since that day was to start a business so I could join ASI." With his two-year-old business thriving, he applied for membership and was accepted last fall. "I feel strongly about doing ministry abroad," he notes.

In addition to these new members, there were interests such as Eric Garloff of New Jersey Conference's Woodbury (N.J.) church, who operates a ministry that produces soul winning videos and is considering joining the ministry-focused organization. "I'm excited about being here," he said after the worship service. "I've met a lot of great people, love the interaction and have been blessed by the ministry and speakers. My wife and I are looking forward to joining."

There were also the long-time supporters in attendance such as Joy S.D. Charles. This home health provider and member of Potomac Conference's Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., leads TEACH, a 30-year-old ministry that empowers lay people To Educate And Create Hope through teaching and preaching, computer training, small business empowerment and health ministries initiatives in 20 states in India. "I've been coming since they started the Columbia Union chapter about 25 years ago," he said proudly, while standing in front of his exhibit that featured photos of those involved in the ministry and pamphlets detailing their accomplishments.

Ed Williams is equally passionate about Former Adventist Recovery Ministries, which he started to "reach out and reclaim former Seventh-day Adventist members." He laments that in the 42 years that he was out of the church, only one person reached out to him. After the death of his sister led to the conversion of his wife, this home inspector by trade was re-baptized and began attending Chesapeake Conference's Williamsport (Md.) church where "the people were so loving when we visited that we never left," he smiles. Now the couple leads workshops in churches so as to help members know what to say to former members and what not to say. Their goal, he says, is to help churches gather, pray for and follow up on the names people submit. In the 18 months since he's been leading the ministry and reaching out to missing members and those referred by loved ones, several have already returned to the church family.

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