Erton Kohler, secretary of the General Conference, served as the day’s guest speaker.
The Laurel, Md. congregation was officially welcomed into the conference on Sept. 17.
The Reaching Hearts International (Laurel, Md.) church was welcomed into the Chesapeake Conference during the congregation’s worship service on Sept. 17. Conference officials were present to participate in the service and offer official greetings.
The 260-member congregation joins the conference following a transfer from the Allegheny East Conference.
“We’re very happy to be part of your family now and to have you as part of our family,” Jerry Lutz, Chesapeake Conference president, said during remarks to the congregation. “We look forward to getting to know you better, and we’re so very excited about this special day.”
Church leaders said they were excited to partner with the conference to further the congregation’s mission of “loving Jesus, serving people.”
“Reaching Hearts was formed by a bunch of entrepreneurs who were risk takers, but every organization also needs some local security,” says Michael Oxentenko, pastor of Reaching Hearts International.
Oxentenko adds that the congregation’s leadership is impressed with the conference’s educational focus, noting that many members already send their children to Chesapeake Conference schools. “We need a future that’s wrapped within the educational vision,” he says.
The church places significant emphasis on celebrating the congregation’s cultural diversity. One of the major highlights during the worship service on Sabbath featured nearly 30 members parading across the platform dressed in the traditional clothing of their cultural heritage and sharing a “Happy Sabbath” greeting in their ancestral language.
The Reaching Hearts International church was initially founded in 2000. The church’s focus on mission has led the congregation to plant churches in India and launch a soul-winning institution in Brazil. The congregation also has a vibrant radio ministry through the Salem Radio Network.
“The prophetic message of Adventism is a mega message,” Oxentenko says. He adds: “The message must break out of us and must inject itself into the evangelical Christian world and become catalytic for end time events to happen.”