Sergio Moctezuma Honored for Decades of Church Growth Leading Inter-America

Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the Inter-American Division recently honored Pastor Sergio Moctezuma for his extraordinary contribution to the growth of the church throughout the territory since he began his denominational service in the 1960s. of recognition attracted top church leaders and staff from the IAD office in Miami, Florida, USA ahead of the Laity Festival, held in Panama City, Panama, more early this month.

“We are delighted to honor you for helping the church grow and strengthen as it is today,” said IAD President Pastor Elie Henry. “It would be a moment of sharing with lay people from all over the territory, but due to the circumstances, we will honor you in person here.”

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma, originally from Mexico, began his religious service in his home country in 1952. He fully retired from the IAD office in 2005. [Photo: Abel Márquez/IAD]

Moctezuma received two medals and a special plaque from IAD trustees for his extraordinary contribution to the growth of the church. During his tenure, the number of members in DIA territory grew to over 2 million.

Mission-driven influence

“We recognize you for the unquestionable ability and missionary influence you have demonstrated in your faithful service in mobilizing the laity of our territory for so many years,” Pastor Henry said.

Known for his energy, creativity, and mission-oriented leadership, Pastor Moctezuma began his church service in his home country of Mexico in the Mexican Union in the 1950s and in the late 1960 he was called to serve in southern Brazil. Union Territories and South American Division. Moctezuma was called in 1975 to serve in the DIA as Director of Personal Ministries (formerly known as Lay Activities) and Sabbath School Departments. He held that position until 2000, when he retired, but served as assistant to then DIA Chairman Israel Leito until 2005.

Adventist leaders at the Laity Festival in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 15–19, 1979. This was one of four regional lay festivals held in the division's territory. [Photo: IAD Archives]

Adventist leaders at the Laity Festival in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 15–19, 1979. This was one of four regional lay festivals held in the division’s territory. [Photo: IAD Archives]

“He is known as the father of Lay Festivals in Inter-America and around the world, the first of which were held in 1969,” said Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, IAD Personal Ministries director. In 1979 there were four regional lay festivals in Guatemala, Colombia, Barbados and Haiti to cover the countries of each region and the English, Spanish and French IAD territories.

Feasts of the laity: a celebration

“The laity festivals were meant to celebrate and recognize the laity for winning others with the gospel, [and] presented inspiration, motivation and training to reach more people for Christ,” Ferreyra added.

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma in the lead at a regional lay festival in 1979.  [Photo: IAD Archives]

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma in the lead at a regional lay festival in 1979. [Photo: IAD Archives]

Under Moctezuma’s leadership, a new concept of what it means to be a lay person emerged: someone who could be trained as a lay preacher, Bible teacher and evangelist, Ferreyra said. “[Moctezuma] pushed the idea for each local church, that it should be a lay member training school for lay members to lead Sabbath School and what we know today as small groups.

Shortly thereafter, secular training schools sprang up under the direction of the IAD, then with the General Conference and the National Institute of Christian Ministries. Besides training institutes, Moctezuma has advocated for Sabbath School materials for children and the development of many resources for the church.

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma explains the role of the church ministries department at a lay festival at the 1988 North Mexico Conference.  [Photo: IAD Archives]

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma explains the role of the church ministries department at a lay festival at the 1988 North Mexico Conference. [Photo: IAD Archives]

From an early age, Moctezuma knew that church members could do their part to support the mission – not just rely on the work of the local pastor as a separate ministry – and that all church members would didn’t have to be lay evangelists. “It was better to use church members to witness, teach young people to preach, and then I could come up with the job of a minister. My idea has always been the instrumental work of lay people,” Moctezuma said.

During his service in the South American Division, as branch Sabbath schools became a smaller setting for witnessing and winning others over, Moctezuma said he was amazed at the growth potential of the church. . “I began to read and study Ellen G. White’s book Christian service book, I studied my Bible, and it became clear and a turning point in finding a pastor[s] train members of each church to participate in witnessing opportunities best suited to each member’s gifts.

Jorge Salazar (second from right) stands with members of his Sabbath School branch in Quito, Ecuador, while showing the number of people they had brought to Jesus after four months of witnessing to the others.  It was after this meeting in the late 1960s that Pastor Sergio Moctezuma studied Ellen G. White's Christian Service book and the Bible to highlight the work of the Branch Sabbath Schools as growth in the church into what we now call small groups. [Photo: Sergio Moctezuma]

Jorge Salazar (second from right) stands with members of his Sabbath School branch in Quito, Ecuador, while showing the number of people they had brought to Jesus after four months of witnessing to the others. It was after this meeting in the late 1960s that Pastor Sergio Moctezuma studied Ellen G. White’s Christian Service book and the Bible to highlight the work of the Branch Sabbath Schools as growth in the church into what we now call small groups. [Photo: Sergio Moctezuma]

New secular movement

Returning to the Inter-American Division a few years later, it was an opportunity to be part of a new movement to train and highlight the important work of the laity in partnership with the pastor of the church, setting evangelistic goals and moving forward together, Moctezuma said. . “Ministers and laity have united to finish the work to hasten the coming of our Lord.”

When Pastor Moctezuma’s name emerged at the end of the IAD Laity Festival, held August 4-6, 2022, the more than 650 lay people and church leaders gathered from across the division’s territory applauded for its pioneering work for the laity and legacy that continues to grow throughout the territory.

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma and his wife Raquel at an IAD office event honoring lay champions in 2013. [File Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Pastor Sergio Moctezuma and his wife Raquel at an IAD office event honoring lay champions in 2013. [File Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“I praise the Lord for the opportunity He has given me and my wife Raquel to serve Him and see ‘the lifeblood of the church’ inspired by the Holy Spirit in the fulfillment of the mission entrusted to us,” said Moctezuma.

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