end meetings. Below are a few pictures, some of them personal, and a couple from the presentations. The most interesting information shared Friday, at least for me, was Alex Bryant's report. Alex is the NAD Executive Secretary and shares a statistical report each year. As usual, his findings are both encouraging and sobering . . .
Among other points which caught my attention in his report is that last year, while the Division did grow, we lost nearly 30,000 members to death, missing, or apostasy. Many of that number have simply dropped out and no longer attend church by their own choice.
Here are a couple of slides that I took pictures of, the first one illustrates the results of a survey of missing members which asked, "What Happened After you stopped Attending?" Notice that four out of ten replied "no one contacted me."
The report on membership was long and I believe I can get a copy of the slides, so, I'll save more of its findings for another time. This second slide reflects the high number of short-term volunteers and missionaries that are from hospitals or universities/colleges. By far, as the slide illustrates, Southern puts the greatest number of volunteers into the world field.
Friday included a stirring report on the NAD's commitment to increase the number of women serving as pastors in the Division; an initiative made possible by the Division investing money into encouraging local conferences to hire more qualified females. There was also an inspiring "visioning" report by Elder Jackson which focused on the centrality of Jesus to everything we believe and do, a summation of the results of the major evangelistic thrust into New York City last year, and as reflected above, a review of the scope of volunteer mission service of NAD church members to the world field.
On Sunday we will review the NAD's initiative to move it's headquarters and separate from the GC in terms of it's historic and unique organizational tie, as well as it's physical tie (the NAD is housed in the same building as the GC). As Elder Jackson reminded us, the 'separation' is not theological, and is not an act of apostasy (as a few eccentrics have suggested) but instead represents a continued move towards operating in the same complimentary but independent status from the GC as that which defines the Division/GC relationship for all of the other 12 world divisions. The GC/NAD relationships has always been a source of some blessings, and I sense, some 'tensions' as well as perhaps reflected in the old adage, "Too many cooks can ruin the soup!"
Some of you may know that I grew up in this area of Maryland; about six or seven miles west of the GC/NAD headquarters building. This afternoon I had opportunity to take my daughter on a "memory" nostalgia trip around urban Metro Montgomery County and while I have no immediate family in the area, many of my closest relatives once lived here and in many cases, are buried in the area. The little Methodist Chapel just off a busy city street and pictured below is the resting 'place' for my oldest brother, who died in infancy, in 1951. While there is no longer a marker that marks the spot, an old family picture reminded me that his grave is just in front of the black light pole near the spot of what was once a great tree, now removed, but the base of it still visible. Ellen White reminds us that angels mark the places that human eyes cannot see and minds no longer even remember.
My father was not a Christian, and again, a few of you may know that. Regrettably, he died suddenly due to poor health habits, when he was 48 years old. My daughter never met him and in fact neither my wife nor any of my kids met him. Despite his challenges, I would be delighted to see him in the Kingdom, and for now, this is his resting place not far from the house I grew up in and just outside the city where I worked in law enforcement.
I stopped by the City of Rockville police headquarters fora moment to get a picture of one of the patrol cars I used to drive, though mine was not nearly as "cool" as this one! Moments after I snapped the picture, the officer driving the car came out to resume his patrol duties. I asked if I could take his picture and he politely but adamantly said, "Oh no. no. " I told my daughter that I wasnt' sure why he objected, even after I told him I was a former Rockville City officer, and that I was pretty sure I had the legal right to take his picture whether he wanted me to or not, but . . wisely . . I was NOT going to test my "constitutional rights" theory with him.