“An Unforgettable Day” was the theme of the 26th annual Youth Festival in the South Veracruz Conference, one of the fastest-growing church entities in the InterOceanic Mexican Union Conference. At this historic event, the conference membership totaled 29,314 members worshiping in 256 organized churches in a territory re-structured six times in 26 years. More than 2,400 young delegates and their leaders converged from all pastoral districts to the Hill of the Eagles campsite located on the outskirts of the Catemaco City, Veracruz, Mexico. For them, this event, which testified to a leadership that believes in and exemplifies what Total Member Involvement (TMI) is all about, was unforgettable in that it was the last event under their current Conference structure. A few months later this year, the Conference was reorganized due to outstanding church growth.
The festival focused on the Second Coming of Jesus, and this theme was emphasized throughout—in sermons, seminars, praise time, the theme song, special music, concerts, parades, dramas, contests, a baptismal ceremony, and prayer.
Sixteen young people were baptized in the camp swimming pool. More than 30 chose to be baptized in the future, and the entire crowd of young people accepted direct calls that invited them to commit themselves to Christ and to the mission of the church in preparation for the Second Coming. All attendees were also invited to sign a certificate on “Sexual Purity vs. Sexual Promiscuity” in the context of 1 Thessalonians 4.
As a guest speaker who has visited that territory many times, I was delighted to see them growing to such an exceptional level. I visited that field for the first time when the first administration built the first headquarters under the leadership of Pastor Israel Guizar, and, for many years, I have been gladly following their course of success and excellence. The following are some of the Total Member Involvement strategies they have used in cooperation with the powerful intervention of the Holy Spirit:
1. Mobilization of all forces of the church under a common denominator: mission.
2. Emphasis on membership involvement as a strong strategy of leadership effectiveness exercised by their pastors and elders.
3. Youth involvement in leadership, mission, and public worship. Each year the youth run simultaneous evangelistic campaigns in all churches of their territories.
4. A united, multigenerational church structure which values children, women, and youth.
5. Various evangelistic events during the calendar year when lay preachers, women, youth, and child preachers—in addition to pastors and elders—lead out in public evangelism on a rotating basis.
6. Strong, well-oriented financial investment in public evangelism.
7. Small groups organized in each local church for prayer, discipleship, and outreach.
8. Acquisition of properties and development of building projects to provide temples, schools, and appropriate headquarters to facilitate the work of new churches and conferences/missions.
9. Evangelistic resources provided on a permanent basis.
10. A campsite built and developed for various youth activities and other conference/union events.
11. Presence of pastors and elders at all conference-wide youth events.
12. Establishment and fostering of all youth organizations, including the Youth Society, the Youth Federation, and the Adventurer, Pathfinder, Master Guide, and Youth Leader Clubs. In Mexico, there are three universities owned and operated by the church—Montemorelos, Linda Vista, and Navojoa—where pastors are trained and Youth Ministries operates as a formative institution.
In the closing ceremony, Pastors Benjamin Camacho Jimenez, youth director, and Oved Ortiz Rinza, president of the Conference, were joined by their administrative colleagues, office staff, all district pastors, event organizers, and delegates of that historic occasion. They said farewell to each other knowing that they would never again meet under the banner of that Conference but with the firm determination to be ready and to prepare others for the “Unforgettable Day” when they would never part again.
Alfredo Garcia-Marenko is editorial assistant for Elder’s Digest in the General Conference Ministerial Association.