Late in 2005, General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department (SSPM) Assistant Director, May-Ellen Colόn, was appointed to lead the Adventist Community Services (ACS) part of SSPM. Since ACS at the General Conference level is an international administrative entity, it has been re-named Adventist Community Services International (ACS-International). At all other levels of church structure, ACS remains ACS.
Through the years, in some parts of the world, ACS has remained active at the division, union, conference, and church level. Its focus has been church-based social ministry for the churchs surrounding community. In addition, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has carried forward the humanitarian work of the Adventist Church worldwide. The Seventh-day Adventist Church needs both ADRA and ACS.
Historically, at the General Conference level, Dorcas (later ACS) has been under the Home Missionary, Lay Activities, and Personal Ministries Departments. This ministry of unselfish service started in 1879.
“Dorcas” is named after the Dorcas in Acts 9, “who was always doing good and helping the poor” (vs. 36). Traditionally, Dorcas societies have focused on providing food and clothes to needy people, and remain a part of Adventist Community Services, as does Disaster Response. ACS has expanded its sphere to include many other different types of services and ministries, such as tutoring and mentoring, crisis care, community development/urban ministry/inner city ministries, job finding and training, community health, elder care, family life, counseling, AIDS programs, etc.
In 1985 the Sabbath School and Lay Activities Departments of the General Conference became part of the Church Ministries Department. By 1995 the Sabbath School and Lay Activities departments were re-established and became one department with the name Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department (SSPM). ACS was included under SSPM.
Since 1990, ACS at the General Conference level had been inactive because of staff, time, and budgetary issues. The last official Adventist Community Services leader for the world church was Maurice Bascom, who served from 1985-1990.
Now that ACS is again international, with world-wide leadership from the General Conference, ACS International Director, May-Ellen Colόn, is responding to calls from all over the world. She and an international team of division, union, and conference-level ACS Directors are motivating and equipping Seventh-day Adventist Church members to unconditionally meet the expressed needs of people around them in Jesus’ name.