On Sunday the 14th of January the annual New Year’s Reception of the Conference took place. All elders, pastors, departemental leaders, members of the Conference Board and several foreign guests, were invited to ask a blessing for the new year.
The New Year’s Reception used to take place in Hasselt, but due to circumstances it could not take place there this year. In Buzet another good location was found where the warm buffet could be enjoyed. As has become custom every year, the meal was prepared by members from the church in Hasselt, under direction of Ghislaine HEINZE-VANRUSSELT. Various volunteers from different churches in Belgium helped with serving the meal.
During the New Year’s Reception is has become a custom for the president of the Conference, Jeroen TUINSTRA, to provide a review of the past year and a preview of the coming year during his New Year’s speech. He emphasized this year his concern about the “Christian right” in America who so eagerly embraced the election of president Donald TRUMP and still support him. As we, as an Adventist Church, have American roots and we also belong to the right wing of Christianity, we should be aware of this development.
The president further emphasized the importance to be a church who is ready for the future. “A church which is ready for the future does not hide from the problems in society. Being a church in society is hard and dirty work. It is not good if we, as a church, pull ourselves to safety behind the walls of the church. But we have to be the salt of the earth.”
He further concluded dat we should do a lot more about equality in the church and that we should concentrate more on the assignment that we find in the Genesis story than the theological battle on literality of the text. A church which is ready for the future, however long that future may be, should be engaged in fighting inequality in society and taking care of creation. Two elements, despite how we read it, jump out from the creation story.
The president closed with the wish that Conference offices would be overwhelmed with requests for support for projects from the local churches in the coming months. Churches should not ask what plans the Conference has for them, but which plans the churches have where the Conference can support.
With almost 100 people present and representation from the Franco-Belgian Union by Karel DENTENEER and the Netherlands Union by Enrico KARG, we can look back to a successful day!