Larry Caviness, the new president of the Nevada/Utah Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church wants people to know two things: Their security in an uncertain world is Jesus Christ and that his Second Coming is real and at hand.
Caviness accepted his new position with the church in January and since then has been traveling throughout Nevada, Utah and parts of Arizona and California to see firsthand how his congregations are doing. Headquarters of the conference are in Reno, Nev."My objective is to visit every church, pastor, school and facility," Caviness said. "I want to have a chance to listen. It's important to listen."
The conference boosts a membership of nearly 4,500, but worldwide the Adventists have 8 million members. They are most readily associated with their medical and educational ministries - which include Loma Linda University - as well as for holding worship on Saturday and maintaining a strong health code.
"Nationally, we are often confused with the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses," Caviness said. Although the church was officially established in the 1860s, the Adventist movement was spurred by the great disappointment of William Miller's failed prediction of the Second Coming for Oct. 22, 1844.
Since that time Adventists have put their energies toward service to mankind, Caviness said. "Not just for the people's sake but for Christ, whose children they are."
In keeping with that theme, Caviness said one of the conference's major projects is the Monument Valley Hospital. "This hospital is considered by some to be the most rural hospital in America," he said.
The hospital services the large American Indian population in northern Arizona, including the Navajo Nation. Church membership in Monument Valley has grown to 200, and Caviness said Adventists have just started a small congregation in the reservation town of Kayenta.
Other projects of local interest include the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency, which works closely with the American Red Cross to supply food, clothing, medical care and other relief during times of disaster and to the poor.
Locally, Adventists contributed truckloads of supplies to victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and to recent earthquake and flood victims in California, Japan and throughout the world.
One of Caviness' greatest loves is working with the youth of the church. On one occasion he served as youth director of a project that took 250 people to Mexico to help put in water systems and provided help in teaching the locals to use their resources to build self-sufficiency.
Caviness says although church growth in North America is slowing, there is rapid growth in Central and South America, Africa, China, Korea and Japan.