Story by V. Michelle Bernard
On Sunday delegates of the New Jersey Conference’s 40th Regular Constituency Meeting elected a new leadership team for the next five years, celebrated the work the church has accomplished over the last five years and elected a new executive committee.
Delegates elected Jorge Aguero, most recently the New Jersey Conference’s director of Personal, Family and Men’s ministries, as president; Mario Thorp as executive secretary and re-elected Joel D. Tompkins as treasurer.
Aguero noted the cultural, language and generational diversity of the 17,000-member conference. “We need to learn how to live together,” he said in a message translated into Spanish by Pastor Jorge Coxaj. “Now more than ever, we need a united church. It must be strong in order to accomplish our mission.”
His goal for the next five years is to see “a great movement” in the churches, schools and with elders, pastors, lay pastors, adults and youth. “[We need to] share the hope of the Second Coming of Jesus in our cities to our family, friends, neighbors and people around us. Therefore, it is crucial for us to live every day with this hope in our hearts,” he noted, in addition to the goal of reaching a membership of 20,000 by 2020.
Delegates also voted minor changes to the bylaws, elected a new executive committee and celebrated the successes of the past five years that include growth from 14,000 to 17,000 members, $1,096,000 invested in evangelism, opening 29 missions, and adding 1,069 new members during the Caravan of Hope and Compassion initiatives. (Watch the conference report here).
Columbia Union Conference and New Jersey leadership thanked former president, José Cortés Sr. (pictured with Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president), and his wife, Celita, for 30 years of service in New Jersey. Jose Cortes II, associate director of the North American Division (NAD) Ministerial Association, along with his wife, Joanne Cortes, a defined contribution specialist at the NAD, and their sons Jose III and Joel, presented the NAD Lifetime Pastoral Achievement Award to his parents.
Attendees also thanked Mike Gill, the previous executive secretary for his two years of service in that role. Gill chose to return full-time pastoral ministry and will continue directing the conference’s Adventist Community Services and Disaster Response department.
Meet the New Leadership Team
Pictured: Olgath and Mario Thorp, Amalia and Jorge Aguero, and Kellie and Joel D. Tompkins.
Aguero has worked in the conference since 2003 as a pastor and director of several departments. Originally from Venezuela, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Colombia Adventist University (Colombia); a Master of Arts in Theology and a Doctorate in Ministry from Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (Mich.). He has worked for the Seventh-day Adventist church more than 37 years. Amalia, his wife of more than 34 years, will continue leading the conference’s Women’s Ministries department and the Ministerial Spouses Association in addition to her administrative role in the Treasury Department. They have two grown sons, two daughter-in-laws and three grandchildren.
Thorp, who is originally from Costa Rica, has worked in pastoral ministry for 26 years, the last 17 as a pastor in New Jersey Conference. He also previously served as conference evangelist. Thorp has been married to Olgath Thorp for 22 years.
Joel D. Tompkins has served in the conference for the last three months as treasurer. Tompkins has worked in treasury positions for the church since 1987. He and his wife, Kellie, most recently served in the Southern New England Conference.