“What I’ve been learning as your Conference President”
 

I find it incredibly hard to believe that a whole year has flown by since accepting the invitation to be your new conference president. It all began just over a year ago in March, 2006. And now here we are in the early blush of May, 2007 and I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the amazing things I have been learning over these last 13 months. 

First, let me just say that Sharon and I consider it a humble privilege and honor to be serving you in this capacity here in Hawaii. So often when you hear people describing Hawaii they talk about the beautiful beaches, azure blue ocean waters, palm trees, gentle trade winds, lush tropical fruits and all the tourist sights, sounds and smells. But as far as we are concerned what really makes Hawaii, Hawaii, is the people … you. There is an “Aloha” spirit here which is alive and well and we have been on the receiving end of it over and over again. You have been so kind and gracious to us and all we can say from the depths of our hearts is, Mahalo! We love you very much!

As of two Sabbaths ago I have experienced the joy and delight of worshiping and preaching in all 30 or our churches here in Hawaii. What an amazing journey this has been and what a thrill to become better acquainted. I have learned that we have wonderfully gifted and talented lay leaders who are committed to God and the church.  Everyone is involved and engaged in what is happening. The Sabbath School programs have been well planned and the lesson studies taught with excellence and clarity. The worship services have been enthusiastic and participatory. The special music is inspiring. Many times I have found myself so moved the tears have welled up in my eyes. God is so good!  And what can we say about the potlucks … wow!     

Visiting our churches has also given me the opportunity to share with you my vision and passion which is to take seriously this Mission God has given to us (Matthew 28 and Revelation 14) which is to proclaim and prepare people for the soon second coming of Jesus Christ! Since this planet is gasping its last breath we must all have a sense of urgency and be serious about this calling and commission God has given us. I want to be driven by this Mission and I have been learning that you do, too!  

I have been learning that we have a very committed and dedicated team of pastors and teachers. They each have a passion for the churches and schools they serve.  It is not an easy job and the challenges are great yet each one believes in the call God has placed on their hearts to serve Him faithfully right here in Hawaii. To be colleagues together and to serve and support them again is a privilege for Sharon and me. 

I have been learning about the sacrificial faithfulness of all our members, pastors and teachers. As you know we are facing some rather challenging times in our conference.  Difficult decisions have been made which are affecting all of us. Yet through it all you are being faithful to God.  Faithful in the giving of your time and talents to the church.  Faithful in returning to God your tithes and offerings. I have been learning during these challenging times that we can take seriously the promise of God when He declares, “My Grace is sufficient for you.” 

And so the journey continues. I am committed to continue listening and learning from you.  The door to my office is always open and my cell phone is always on (well, most of the time!) Sharon and I are here to serve you. Please feel free to let us know how we can serve you better. In the meantime, let us all commit to living our lives Faithful to God.

                                                                                                                Ralph S. Watts III