RMCNews – Greensboro, North Carolina … January 8-11 concluded three intense years of leading the churches in each of the North American Division conferences in new ways of doing ministry. Several hundred church ministry leaders have had to get creative and think outside the box during the pandemic, as they could not allow the pandemic to stop them from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Under the theme Replenish, the Adventist Ministries Convention met in Greensboro, North Carolina, to evaluate their own ministry and learn how creative and successful other colleagues had been.

Among them was Vanessa Alarcón, a licensed therapist and ministry leader from Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC), presenting issues of faith and mental health.

“One evening after work, DeeAnn Bragaw, NAD women’s ministry director, called and invited me to present a seminar focused on mental health. She told me she couldn’t get me out of her mind as a potential presenter and felt impressed to invite me officially.” I was stunned. “Me?” I asked myself. “Of all the women across the division, women with more experience or a fancy ministry title, why me? I’m a licensed therapist with experience presenting these seminars, but a room full of Conference and Union directors sounded highly intimidating. During that call, I felt peace knowing God was behind this invitation,” Vanessa reminisced.

DeeAnn expressed that she wanted to create a space for younger and newer voices in the division. And she was right. As Vanessa looked at the program and other presenters, she wasn’t surprised to realize that she was, indeed, the youngest presenter at the convention. 

Reflecting on her convention experience, Vanessa said she spent months preparing for the seminar. “The day of the presentation was a whirlwind of adrenaline. I was blessed to have my parents, Rubén and Patty Rivera, attending the convention in their respective ministry roles at RMC. They prayed with me throughout the day, which helped ground me when my nerves began to increase. Minutes after I arrived at the room where my seminar would take place, I received a surprise visit from Doug Inglish, RMC vice president for administration. He came to give me words of encouragement which was a nice way to feel the support from the conference,” she explained.

Hearing reports from other participants, she sensed that they all had a wonderful experience presenting and chatting with the directors after the seminars as they met to debrief the content. Vanessa hopes more young people get to experience connecting with leaders across the division through experiences like she had. “It brings a new appreciation for the ministry happening in our church,” she believes.  

She looks forward to collaborating with the NAD leaders on creating relevant ministry material to further equip church leaders to provide trauma-informed spiritual care. 

Among other participants from RMC was Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director.

“The theme for this convention,” commented Mickey, was ‘Replenish’. It was a very timely topic for Christian leaders who sometimes spend so much time helping others that they don’t set aside enough time to be replenished physically, emotionally, and spiritually.” 

“It was great being together with ministry colleagues again after not being able to meet for a few years due to the pandemic. I found the morning and evening sessions to be very practical. My favorite was by Pastor Dave Ferguson from the Collegedale Church on the benefits of laughter. It is amazing how a little humor can make a big difference in your day,” Mickey added.

Doug Inglish shared his observations about the convention, saying, “The breakout sessions have been highly relevant for me, addressing some critical administrative issues that RMC is facing. But perhaps the most significant benefit is meeting with people outside the sessions who are providing possibilities for our future personnel needs,” he said.

—RMCNews with Mickey Mallory and Vanessa Alarcón. Photo by Mickey Mallory.