DEBORAH HARRIS TO LEAD ASI-UK
DEBORAH HARRIS TO LEAD ASI-UK
Known for her financial perspicuity, Deborah Harris, a member of Tottenham church, London, was elected on Sunday, 2 February to lead ASI-UK for the coming year.
Known for her financial perspicuity, Deborah Harris, a London based member, was elected on Sunday, 2 February to lead ASI-UK for the coming year. She succeeds Jim Cunningham, a retired headteacher from the Grantham area who has skilfully led a refocusing of the organisation for Adventist business men and women over the past three years.
Accepting the role following elections at the Annual General Meeting at Staverton Park hotel, Daventry, Deborah acknowledged that while she feels honoured to serve for this year, that it is "the useful, practical leadership of Jim Cunningham, who stepped down after three and a half years, that is the solid foundation on which I hope to build over the coming months."
Although Deborah studied Civil Engineering, she went on to train in financial services and banking with PwC. She is a chartered accountant and amongst other roles is currently a Director of the management consultancy firm DHUA Ltd, a non-executive director and the Audit Committee Chairman for the largest specialist eye hospital in the UK and also the chairman of the global Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) Non-Executive Directors' Group.
It may be his Glaswegian background, but Jim is not afraid of tackling issues head-on. For an Adventist business professionals organisation this means that he kept the focus very clearly on sharing Christ in the marketplace, facilitating discussion on how to reach out to the larger population of the UK and Ireland, and how to tackle the issues that young professionals face in the workplace, including an understanding of our faith and issues related to Creation.
Jim confessed that taking on the presidency in 2010 woke him up from a 'Rip Van Winkle slumber', as far as his relationship to the Church was concerned. "The Church that I joined in the sixties has changed dramatically, but so has British society of which I am very much a part", he stated. His response is no longer the 'Just leave it in God's hands' adage. That, he argues, "is frequently used as an excuse for inaction or a repetition of old, tired strategies." In handing over the mantle to Deborah, he challenged, "When I examine the Gospels, Christ's disciples played a full, active and sometimes very innovative role in spreading the word. In our Church, we have members who are gifted, creative, innovative, non-factionalist and impassioned about spreading the message. I have no doubt that those people, who are very much in God's hands, can develop a way of engaging the people of this country which can be life changing for them. It is these people that ASI must continue to support."
In taking on that mantle, Deborah, who has always found herself active in church life, states that "ASI-UK will aim to expand the way we support very early stage, lay-led ministries within the UK, endorse and signpost services that support church members who are also business owners and also improve the frequency and ways we use to communicate with our members and supporting friends."
Deborah is also open to ideas. "I want to hear what we can do better, and what else members think ASI-UK could try to do this year, so please do let us know", she adds.
The AGM came at the end of the ASI Annual Convention. For a full report of the weekend and pictures of the event visit the news page of the Adventist Church website. For more about ASI (Adventist Services and Industries) and their support for students and business professionals contact Christine Manners-Smith on 07790452920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both Jim and Deborah have appeared in recent editions of the Hope TV series, 'In Conversation'. To find out more about their lives, faith and vision, click on the link for either Jim Cunningham or Deborah Harris.
Contact: Victor Hulbert