Editorial: Adventist Political Season Opens

With the recent announcement of his plan to retire, General Conference Secretary G. T. Ng re-opened the political season in the world church. Election of the three top officers of the General Conference, plus the 13 world divisions, takes place once every five years at the General Conference Session, thus the political season centers on that event. In the first few months of 2020, speculation about whether or not General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson would be re-elected was widely, if not openly discussed. Then came COVID and the postponement of the GC Session and the officers’ terms were extended to the 2021 date set for the Session. This year, another postponement of the Session until 2022 again extended their terms. Ng’s plan to retire on June 1, 2021 means the Nominating Committee plus the other administrative committees at the General Conference will have to choose his replacement during the upcoming Spring Meeting April 13–14. So, the political season is now open.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11170

The political season may be open in terms of the GC Executive Secretary. However, The General Conference leadership has been very slow to respond to the needs of the South Pacific Division for an Executive Secretary. This role has been vacant since late September 2020.

In past times South Pacific Division officers have been chosen between GC Sessions by a process in which the GC President would Zoom in and be the chairperson of a specially convened Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee Report would then be handed on to the South Pacific Division Executive to be actioned, and would be passed to the General Conference Executive Committee to be ratified. Such a process has been initiated several time in recent years without difficulty.

There appears to be little will to fill the position of South Pacific Division Executive Secretary before the upcoming 2022 GC Session in St Louis. The SPD Associate Secretary is not even acting in the role of her missing superior, according to my best information. The said Executive Secretary departed under a cloud, but no amount of sleuthing has revealed the exact reason for his rather rapid demise. It is thought not to be the result of money or sex but rather a murky inter-personal conflict of some description.

It may be (and here I am surmising to a great degree) that the GC leadership is disatisfied with the SPD officer leadership to some degree and is looking to upend it. Perhaps David Trim and Gary Krause could feature here.

The SPD Discipleship Ministries Team since 2015 have sought to develop a greater synergy between the traditional departments. So they have developed new structures and cultivated more of an intentional discipleship focus. In the next few months, the second tier of this redevelopment will be roled out with most of the SPD Discipleship Ministries Team being reassigned. This redevelopment of church ministries within the SPD and its sub-entities will involve developing new structures and focus being aligned to the four or five strategic areas of mission concern = church planting, media ministry, mission to the cities, comprehensive health ministries, leadership development etc. The SPD Ministries personnel will certainly operate under a very wide umbrella.

this is one development in our church, and country, that i’m not so big on…i think the person chosen for any given position should be the best person, even if everybody chosen ends up being white males…after-all, don’t we want the best talent and achievement in leadership…what good does it do to select people based on their looks if they can’t really do the job…

there comes a point where neat, artificial and overt diversity starts to look like pandering, and a lowering of the standard, which isn’t fair to the persons involved…

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Jeremy,

I consider that both gentlemen mentioned in this context have performed excellently in their present assigned roles. Perhaps where both of them lack is in the sphere of direct local, pastoral leadership.

Gary Krause was ordained at the General Conference a number of years ago. In Australia, he was an editor! He has completed (or is completing) his PhD from the University of Queensland, one of Australia’s premiere sandstone universities. As I understand it he has updated Ted Wilson’s research on Ellen White’s mission strategy to the cities. He is round 60 years of age. He was born in Fiji of missionary parents.

David Trim is also my fellow compatriot. Up until his present role, David has excelled in academia in the UK, firstly as a doctoral student at King’s College, London and then as a history lecturer at Newbold College of Higher Education. His research skills are without question. I would assume that he is some years younger than Gary. He could be my triplet, sharing the same birthdate. (I already have a twin). His parents were missionaries to India in his early years.

Both Gary and David certainly hold very different views about ordination from those of Ted Wilson, though they both know how to be part of the leadership team.

As I said above, both Gary and David would make an excellent contribution in the South Pacific Division officer team, if invited.

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but maybe they should be considered for GC positions, considering where they are now…i would think that Gary Krause, in particular, as Associate Secretary for the GC since 2010, should be a shoo-in as Ng’s replacement…

personally, i’d like to see Rafaat Kamal, president of TED since 2014, succeed TW…first of all, he speaks 5 languages, from what i understand, but he seems to have a naturally congenial personality…perhaps only europe can hold NAD and africa together at this point…a Kamal presidency would make clear to all that bullying through numbers isn’t the way to go…

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I can’t agree with you on this. In a team environment, it is what the person brings to the team not their individual abilities that matter. This is why diversity is important! If everyone on the team has the same weakness or blind spot, then bringing in someone to fill the gap is essential. They don’t have to be a superstar they just need to bring a perspective that is not already present on the team. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in business. However, people like to bring in people like themselves and all they get is redundancy and limited perspectives and performance.

but are weaknesses and blind spots a function of race, or gender…everybody has lots of friends, if not a spouse…i’m sure they can bring perspectives other than their own to a given job, especially if it’s clear that these are needed…

the bottom line is if we’re steeped in affirmative action, lots of talented people who’ve worked really hard end up getting left out just because they’re the wrong race or gender…that doesn’t seem fair…

We can agree on the fact that a lot of talented people don’t get the opportunities that they deserve. Sometimes it is because of affirmative action but more often it is because no effort is made at addressing diversity and inclusion. When we ignore diversity and inclusion not only do individuals suffer but organizations and institutions suffer. One of the valuable benefits of getting people from non-western cultures is that they are less focused on individual and more concerned about the communal impact of decisions.

this is one of the things that worries me, actually…if our GC ends up being so non-western, will it really feel like our church…look at what happened at san antonio, when all of africa ganged up on NAD…if that happens over and over again, and if GC leadership ends up catering to that, i don’t think it would good…

For how many decades have women been left out of the decision-making process, much less invited to use their gifts for spiritual leadership?

It’s past time for 60% - 75% of the world church’s membership to be represented at the top level of the church’s decision-making team. Talk about a long-time blind spot…

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sadly, the historic, systematic discrimination of women in our church probably means no woman is qualified to step into any of the positions in the GC Executive…although one has to think that ella simmons is qualified, given her yrs as a general vice president (since 2005)…

the fact that women haven’t been allowed to be ordained also means they haven’t been allowed to rise in the ranks of the GC…this is another reason why we really need a strong western influence in the GC…if africa or s. america takes over, i seriously doubt that the trajectory of opportunity for women in our church will change…

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Jeremy,

You may be right. One can hope.

However, if there is not change in this area, Western Adventism will be impacted significantly through the rejection of the gifts of its young women, their sidelining, and deep responses from a generation of youth anxious to serve and lead, yet frustrated by the church’s Medieval approach to women.

i think this is one of those imperatives where we really can’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up…i really hope alexander bryant can be as aggressive as dan jackson was…even if the world church threatens to split, we can’t go backwards on this question of recognizing women’s gifts…

i just wish that NAD could have seen and taken the opportunity to put in sandra roberts as our new division president…that single appointment vote would have changed the entire situation in our church overnight…

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Thank you for the headline, and calling this process what it is - politics. It’s time our membership realizes that people are chosen for positions based on politics, not some pervading influence of the Holy Spirit (who seems to be rather absent during such deliberations and votes).

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It looks like the ‘silly season’ has begun in the SDA church I think it’s time to rethink the organization of the this version of the catholic church. Maybe looking at a model that is congregation-centric would be more in keeping with local autonomy. To dismantle the Ark, as some think of the SDA church, would be have to be done through small steps and the first would be to determine if there is a sort of consensus that reorganization is long over due, keeping in mind that the gospel is the main thrust of any church To spread the message of Christ does not require an organized religion.but committed Christ followers who’s main concern is not baptisms but leading people to our risen Saviour. Where the converted attends after conversion is the role of the Spirit. Unfortunately, most if not all, religious organizations deteriorate into secular models where self preservation and control over the membership are its focus. God’s will, if I might be so bold, is to encourage self control mediated through His Spirit and His abiding love. Exercising control over another human is not His plan for humanity. I think it was and is the plan that mankind be organized around the family first and foremost, and then co-operatively with other families. This ideal has been lost and now we see the consequences of this social disruption I see the church as a gathering of families and the center for Christian education You don’t need a central clearing house to do “political stuff”
Dave Okamura

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