Story by Sam Belony/ Photos by Krystal Irrgang
Union administrators team with Pastor Tara VinCross to start the REACH Columbia Union Urban Evangelism School, where young adults are not only staying in the church, they are transforming it—as well as the many lives they touch through boots-on-the-ground ministry.
The unprecedented venture was born like so many God-inspired projects—thoughts planted in the minds of those seeking to be used by the Lord in ministry. This particular idea started developing in 2010 when Tara VinCross, then pastor of Pennsylvania Conference’s Chestnut Hill church, wrote a ministry development plan as part of her doctorate in ministry. She hoped it would result in an urban evangelism school in Philadelphia.
Unbeknownst to her, Columbia Union Conference leaders had hatched a similar idea and were also planning to launch an evangelism school. Eventually, the plans coalesced. “After completing my doctoral program, I thought, ‘Well, that’s the only piece that hasn’t been completed,’” VinCross recalls. Then one day, the union called to discuss a collaboration, and together in 2013 they formed a task force.
At the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee meeting today, Rob Vandeman, executive secretary of the Columbia Union, reported that as of June 30, membership in the Columbia Union is 144,207, an increase of .76 percent from March 31.
Although Seventh-day Adventists were unable to worship openly in Cuba until recently, members from Potomac Conference’s Seabrook church in Lanham, Md., have ministered there for more than three years. And this summer, Seabrook church members Gavin Simpson, Noah Simpson and Audrey Clarke traveled with Margaret Cancelliere, a member from Pennsylvania Conference’s Pottstown church, and Kenton Rawlins, a member from Connecticut, for a third mission trip to Gibara, a small seaside town where they have worked for the past two years.
Story by Dawna-gene Milton and V. Michelle Bernard