An Unbroken Thread: 50 Years United in Mission

October 24, 2023

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLA. – “My calling and the calling of AdventHealth is to sow seeds of hope, healing and wholeness. To embody the privilege of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ. What about you? Will you join me?” This was the question posed by President/CEO Terry Shaw on the opening night of AdventHealth’s 33rd annual Conference on Mission. The conference was attended by AdventHealth board members and executive leaders, key representatives from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and local community leaders. It was an invitation to reflect on the efforts of the past and acknowledge the work that lies ahead.

With 2023 being an anniversary year for AdventHealth, the conference was a time of both celebration and reflection of the company’s 50-year history, since its founding in 1973 when representatives from standalone hospitals across the southern states joined together to form the health system.

“We want to get a handle on what mission means to each of us on a personal level, as well as professionally and certainly culturally,” said Jillyan McKinney, president and CEO of the AdventHealth Medical Group in Central Florida and co-presenter during the conference’s business session. “Are we being effective in how we deliver on our mission promise? Are we consistently staying true to our roots? How has our history shaped our mission, and what does the future have in store?”

Attendees explored five decades of AdventHealth history through a unique multimedia experience titled “50 Years: United in Mission.” The experience revealed the unbroken thread of mission woven into the essence of Adventist health care, starting with the legacy of Christ’s ministry on earth and continuing with pioneers who founded the church’s earliest sanitariums.

“God’s been so faithful and has bestowed abundant blessings on His healing ministry. The evidence of His presence and providence over these past 50 years, since 1973, is incredible,” said Tim Cook, chief mission integration officer at AdventHealth.

The group explored the foundation of the healthcare ministry, the culture of AdventHealth that refuses to allow mission drift and the role that innovation plays in sustaining that mission and carrying it into the future. In this exploration, intentionality was evident in the training and mentoring of AdventHealth leaders, as well as succession planning to keep the unbroken thread of mission integrity going.

“This is our mission: extending the healing ministry of Christ,” said Cook. “There isn’t a wasted word. It isn’t a preamble. It isn’t the beginning line of a complicated dissertation. It’s simple. It’s profound. It’s intentional. It’s active. And it’s complete.”

In response to this in-depth reflection, a panel convened on stage to discuss key themes that surface from the organization’s history and how they might be used to continue the mission into the future.

“It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations,” said Sean Lemon, vice president and chief operating officer at Texas Health Huguley. “The conference was a great experience to pause and make sure our work is grounded and focused on our mission.”

Continuing a tradition from previous years, music was integral to the three-day event and featured the AdventHealth Orchestra and the AdventHealth Choir for the first time. Both groups, made up of AdventHealth team members, led more than 740 attendees in reverent worship on Sabbath morning, the highest attendance of Conference on Mission to date. 

“Conference on Mission is always such an awesome time to connect as a team around the most important part of who AdventHealth is,” said Kenneth Rose, president and CEO of Texas Health Mansfield.

By Elizabeth Camps

Sr. Communications Specialist

Photos by Timothy Brown