At the 2011 General Conference Annual Council, an ASI Coordinating Committee was formed to provide division presidents with guidance in working with supporting ministries within their territories. This measure was taken in recognition of the success ASI has had in North American and around the world in coordinating the efforts of lay and church workers and resources.
Committee invitee and past ASI president Debbie Young says, "Our having been present in many divisions doing training and highlighting awareness of ASI's impact and positive outcomes has brought recognition and a general desire to formalize those relationships [between lay and church workers] for more efficiency and better impact."
Chaired by GC general vice president Michael L. Ryan and vice-chaired by ASI past president Denzil McNeilus, the new committee also includes John Thomas, G. Alexander Bryant, G. Thomas Evans, Myron Iseminger, Alberto Gulfan, and Candace Renk. In addition to Young, invitees include John Beckett, Ty Gibson, Dan Houghton, Harold Lance, and Don Noble.
The committee met for the first time on Nov. 28, 2011. It began by reviewing its terms of reference, which state that the committee will serve primarily as an advisory group to the divisions. The minutes state that the "committee will provide a forum during Annual Council for the division leadership to discuss changes and global issues concerning healthy, active ASI organizations ministering around the world."
The committee voted to request that each division appoint two ASI representatives, including one church employee and one layperson who is self-employed or from a supporting ministry. The committee also appointed three working groups. The first was assigned the task of developing "a model constitution and bylaws, mission statement, values and function of a division ASI organization." That group will be headed by Harold Lance, past ASI president and president of ASI Missions Inc., which oversees ASI funding of numerous lay-led projects around the world. The second group was appointed to "develop operational guidelines and codes of conduct for ASI organizations and to develop model guidelines for host divisions receiving supporting ministries in their territory." The third group will develop a website to host links to the various division ASI websites. Decisions have yet to be made concerning how and to what extent the ASI name and brand will be used in the various divisions.
This is not the first time ASI has worked in conjunction with the General Conference. ASi was originally formed in 1947 through the coordinated efforts of General Conference leaders and lay leaders of self supporting institutions. ASI then stood for "Adventist Self-Supporting Institutions," which was later changed to "Adventist-laymen's Services & Industries" to reflect a broadening membership base that included evangelism-minded professionals and business owners. ASI continued to work directly with the General Conference for more than 30 years.
"Neither group envisioned the present scope and extent of areas of cooperation involving the church and ASI lay industries and ministries," says Lance.
In 1981, ASI's working connection to the church was shifted from the General Conference to the North Americn Division. Elder Kenneth Livesay was the first full-time ASI North American Division secretary-treasurer, a post now filled by Ramon Chow. Previously, that role was filled by an associate secretary of the General Conference, who worked part-time with ASI while fulfilling other General Conference assignments, including church representative to the United Nations.
"Time has brought the General Conference and ASI full circle," Lance says. He cites four factors that led to the GC's decision to develop guidelines for expanding ASI to the divisions of the world church. First, ASI has been a commendable example of lay ministries and enterprises working responsibly and cooperatively with the church. Second, there has been widespread expansion of North America-based ministires into other areas of the world. Third, a comfortable working relationship of trust has formed between the church and ASI lay ministries. Finally, ASI members and ministries, including the New Beginnings DVD evangelism training project, the One-Day Chuch and School, Maranatha Volunteers International, Light Bearers, the Africa Roof Project, LIGHT (Lay Institute for Global Health Training), Outpost Centers International, and countless others have worked tirelessly to make significant contributions to the mission of the church.
"These efforts have demonstrated that when the laity and Church leaders work together, God's cause is blessed," says Lance.