In June, officials from the General Conference (GC) and the North American Division (NAD) began their Tour and Ministry Showcase of the Pacific Union Conference (PUC). The first stop of the tour was in the Southern California Conference (SCC), featuring a presentation by El Monte Vietnamese church. Here, our visitors saw a preview of how the local conference accomplishes its mission to “exalt Christ by serving others.”
Simply put by NAD Executive Secretary Alexander Bryant, the purpose of this showcase is to visit different conferences to see how they do ministry.
GC Secretary G.T. Ng introduced representatives of the 12 divisions, representing 200 countries and 21 million Adventists worldwide. Each representative briefly shared their role, duties, and the ministry projects they are involved with in their respective divisions. One such ministry from the GC included VividFaith’s soon-to-launch app, which would continue to connect people with service opportunities all over the world.
SCC President Velino A. Salazar spoke of the history of SCC as a diverse territory, noting many of the first churches that organized in the territory, from the first church in 1879 to the first Mongolian group in the United States formed in SCC last year.
“Our strength and our treasure is our diversity,” said Salazar, emphasizing SCC’s mission. “Our feet are planted here, but our hearts and minds are global.”
Salazar then highlighted several churches that are taking innovative approaches to be more relevant in this diverse society, including Vallejo Drive, Breath of Life, Gardena Genesis, Los Angeles Central Korean, Tehachapi, Philadelphian, Los Angeles Cantonese, and, of course, El Monte Vietnamese church.
“It is my honor to serve,” said Vinh Nguyen, pastor at El Monte Vietnamese church. “But most of all, it is important to understand how the immigrant church works in this territory.”
Throughout the presentation, guests were able to experience Vietnamese culture through food, music, and dance. Nguyen shared how, through God’s grace, the church has had a large impact on the community by opening its doors seven days a week. El Monte Vietnamese church hosts the Vietnamese Adventist Heritage School, where 100 students participate in a tutoring program from Monday through Friday and a language school on Sunday. Students are presented with the gospel along with their academic learning. “When we reach the children,” said Nguyen, “we reach the whole family.”
Participants were then invited to tour the campus to see the various ways El Monte Vietnamese church engages with its community for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
At the end of the tour, officials gathered with church members in the sanctuary to pray over the church and its leaders. Ng compared the work of El Monte Vietnamese church to that of a local conference, noting the countless ministries in the church: media, printing, Sabbath school, children, language, and many others. Of 150 active members, about half are involved in ministry volunteer positions.
El Monte Vietnamese church is just one of many to carry on the mission of the world church in a diverse community in this small West Coast territory.
“We are not alike; we are as diverse as our many cultures, languages, and worship styles,” said Salazar. “We are a family, and we are happy.”