General Conference Spring Meeting Features Stories of Service and Success


(Spectrumbot) #1

While the primary purpose for the Executive Committee of the General Conference’s Spring Meeting is to conduct official business such as assessing the income and budget of the church, this year it also was a time for stories of service and success, to pray for the work in each division of the world. Only 78 of the 211 members of the committee had registered at the start of the meeting Tuesday, April 14, but a quorum is 40 so the proceedings went forward. Spring Meeting is shorter than the Annual Council session which occurs each October and typically draws fewer people, plus budgets are being saved for the upcoming GC session in San Antonio, so the smaller crowd was not a surprise.

San Antonio will mark the end of a five year term for elected officers. News of impending retirements were scattered throughout the meeting. Orville Parchment, assistant to two General Conference presidents, gave the opening devotional and then was honored for his long service to the church with a standing ovation.

Treasurer Robert Lemon presented the financial reports and the good news about supplemental income for the year. President Ted Wilson lamented that Lemon could not be cloned, because Lemon, too, is retiring.

Vice President Mike Ryan who has played a significant role in strategic planning and global missions was acknowledged for his efforts to take the message to unreached people groups. San Antonio will mark the end of his vice presidency.

John Graz’ 44 years of service, including his time representing the church in religious liberty, were part of his testimonial on Tuesday.

Revival and Reformation, the program inaugurated by President Ted Wilson five years ago to inspire Bible reading and prayer, led the agenda. It was referred to as the umbrella that has blessed the church. Testimonials of its impact and success are being collected to be presented in a booth at the General Conference session. Vice President Delbert Baker said that it has been so successful people have asked that it continue into the next five years. The plan is to continue with the theme, but this time to emphasize it on a personal level.

Mission to the Cities reports from all thirteen divisions followed.

Stories of the free health care delivered to 6,000 people in San Antonio earlier this month and valued at $20,120,000 were a highlight. President Wilson wanted to make a point about such “comprehensive health evangelism” so it came up frequently over the course of the meeting.

In his financial report Treasurer Robert Lemon described the effect the strong dollar and the decline of other currencies has on the General Conference budget. It means fewer US dollars of income to the General Conference but an increase in local currency units for organizations receiving appropriations in US dollars. In 2014 over 50% of the tithes and offerings received by the General Conference came from currencies other than the U.S, dollar and were subject to currency exchange fluctuations.

“In spite of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar in 2014 there was a slight increase in worldwide tithe when stated in U.S. dollars. Worldwide tithe was up 0.7%, totaling US $2.396 billion. Tithe in the North American Division was up 1.7% over 2013 and totaled US $966 million as compared to US $949 million in 2013. Tithe from divisions other than the North American Division was up 0.1% and totaled US $1.431 billion compared to US $1.429 billion in 2013. In local currency the tithe in divisions other than the North American Division was up substantially, but because of the exchange rate shift tithe was almost flat when stated in U.S. dollars.”

The good news was that the increases in tithe and the fact that the General Conference operated under budget by approximately US $6.3 million meant there was supplemental budget money to be distributed among the divisions, each of which went home with an additional $200,000.

Several projects received significant funding, too.

Hope TV - Japan was given $1,325,000. Middle East North Africa Union Mission received $1,500,000. Multiple needs in the Euro-Asian Division were noted and the Division awarded $1,500,000. Andrews University received $1 million for a health and wellness center. A $500,000 allocation went to youth evangelism on non-Adventist campuses. The single project that received the highest funding was the SDA Encyclopedia, which the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research (ASTR) will coordinate over the next five years. Describing the project during a subsequent business session, ASTR director David Trim pointed out that the encyclopedia was created at a time when the Adventist Church numbered 1.8 million. Membership has now passed 18 million, and numerous entities exist that are not accounted for in the current edition of the encyclopedia.

During departmental reports, Adventist Review editor Bill Knott unveiled the inaugural issue of the redesigned magazine. Knott stated that the new Review specifically aims to connect with young adults and young families—those "with kids still in the home." Knott also noted that the Review will now be published monthly rather than weekly. In addition to a graphical redesign, the new magazine is smaller in size, though with more pages per issue.

At the end of the day Tuesday, there was a special constituency session for Loma Linda University, since the GC Executive Committee members are also members of that constituency. The name of the umbrella organization that includes the hospitals, medical practices and university was officially changed to Loma Linda University Health. First steps were taken to consolidate the three boards that exist at Loma Linda—the one for the university, the hospital, and the one for the faculty medical practice. The university board was enlarged to include representatives from all three entities and the current board was given the power to select the additional board members for the time until the next regular constituency meeting.

David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, presented the results of A survey of the Mission and Health Emphasis in Ministerial Training Curriculums of Adventist institutions in all parts the world (available online from the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research). Trim's survey concluded that:

* Courses on cross-cultural mission are more likely to be included in ministerial training curriculum than are courses that cover the church’s health message. But they they are not commonly taught and usually not by faculty with qualifications in mission.

* Health courses are even less likely to be offered—but more likely to be taught by qualified faculty members.

* There are few mission courses presently being taught that focus on urban, post-modern society—an area of recent focus by the church’s leadership.

The meetings concluded with presentation of the video “What Might Have Been” a dramatic recreation of Ellen G. White’s vision about the 1901 General Conference session. Additional footage had been added to the video emphasizing that what might have been was a revival of the church. Earlier versions of the video had been criticized for its interpretation of Adventist history and suggestion that what might have been was the second coming of Christ.

Title Image Courtesy Ansel Oliver/ANN.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6758

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

the building is sound, it is only the foundation that is weak. The move seems to continually move further from any evangelistic roots. The health care project is an ideal introduction to the forth coming Conference, Would that its theology would keep pace with the advance in medicine. What we have in Adventism is a form of delayed prosperity theology. The word is recompense now or the hereafter. is it trust or is it works. In what manner are they related. Tom Z

P.S. The relationship between trust and works is theology, Tithe, foot washing. headship, and the Sabbath are liturgy


(Elaine Nelson) #3

Two notable ambiguities:

  1. The “Revival and Reformation” project begun by President Wilson five years ago was “so successful” but no measurement of success was given.

  2. While there were many dollar figures given for monies received and expended for the costs of most projects, the new encyclopedia, which “received the highest funding” was not shown.

The “Revival and Reformation” was a major project initiated by Wilson, but where are the quantifiable results: What was the financial costs and how is success measured?


(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

if Reformation is capitalized it would indicate a Luther/Calvin emphasis. I see none of it. Tom Z


(jeremy) #5

it’s great to see the church in such strong financial shape…


(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

if so why are academies dying. It doesn’t seem to money…Could back to the roots be viewed as a tangled web of deceit or the impossible dream? Tom Z


(jeremy) #7

i think the situation with boarding academies will sort itself out…some places should be shut down because there isn’t enough support in the surrounding community…in other cases, mismanagement seems to be the problem, in which case new personel is the answer…


(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

why should mismanagement be a problem in an institution built upon perfectionism? I graduated from an academy in which the principal and faculty treated me as a son. My children came home to tell me they were treated as scum. I brought them home and they graduated from the local high school and then from Loma Linda. East Coast and West Coast Adventism are entirely two different beasts. When Loma Linda and La Sierra attempted a union, Dr Fritz Guy and I drafted the first document which was accepted with much praise and then at the same meeting was shelved, never to see the light of day again. Neal Wilson was in charge. did you know that in his retirement he was elected to the board of a group promoting home schooling? Ego beats loyalty every time. Tom Z


(Bille) #9

I consider this as the most significant point that has been made in this whole essay/conversation combination… with only one caveat … “East Coast” and “West Coast” must only be considered as “labels”… not as literal geographical locations. When all the differences on different issues are sorted out, there are basically two “brands” of Adventism that exist in the world… actually it’s broader than that… there are only two kinds of Religion in the world… those which depend on man’s own efforts being Rewarded with salvation… and those who depend upon Salvation that is Received from the ONLY Man Who was/is God Himself.


(Elaine Nelson) #10

Those adjectives are in use because they describe a rather common use with NAD Adventists. While there are many smaller churches which more closely resemble those in the East Coast, there ARE very definite differences that are recognizable. I have family on both coasts and in conversations and emails the difference is quite noticeable. The family on the east coast reflect very similarly, the religious climate in which I grew and left more than 50 years ago.

But I agree that the terms are limited, often by the user. Why are the regulars on this blog seen as more liberal than the fewer conservatives here? Is it that the liberals are more interested in church news?


(k_Lutz) #11

I believe that most of the respondents here, regardless of their point on the spectrum, desires that the SDAC be responsive to the Gospel of Christ. While some exalt that it is firmly entrenched in Protestant and OT prophetic traditions and thus a religion of exclusion, most others are responsive to the salvation found in Christ alone, making them anxious for the credibility of the organisation that introduced them to Him, thus fulfilling the New Commandment of unrestrained love in working God’s desire that all will be saved, a movement of radical inclusion. It is also observed that most respondents have a yen for learning that is not constrained to theoretical ruminations about the organisation but of the broader panorama of human experience and discovery of that which God has wrought in His General Revelation.

As for the intrigue of ‘church news’, it is at once fascinating and disheartening to watch the organisation double-down on its exceptionality at the expense of it’s self-proclaimed mission to the world.

Trust The Process.


(Peter Marks) #12

Bonnie,

While we recognize that the Sping Council is not telecast on the Hope Channel, how much of the General Conference Session will be telecast.

(From Bonnie Dwyer via email to me: “There is a web site for the GC Session which I recommend checking. I think I read that only the evening meetings were going to be streamed–not the business sessions.” - website editor)


#13

Hi Elaine,

Unless I’m reading that part of your comment wrong, I think its because Spectrum is a more liberal website, so more liberals tend to flock here compared to more conservative websites, which also post articles on church news. I guess people feel more comfortable being around those who hold similar views to them.


(Joselito Coo) #14

Prudent allocation and wise distribution of resources should ensure the incumbent’s re-election. Regardless of the outcome of the vote on WO, the TOSC recommendation will be viewed as another achievement of TW’s administration. My two cents.


(Ann) #15

Actually, the sound financial management of the church will be credited to Bob Lemon and his Treasury associates. In our church structure, Ted Wilson has very little influence over finances. There is no CEO function in the church.

I’m a little puzzled by this comment. Seventy percent of TOSC recommends moving forward with allowing each division to decide whether to ordain women pastors in their territory. TW is very frustrated by this, so why would it be viewed as one of his achievements?


(Elaine Nelson) #16

It is also possible that some sites are not as open to all as is Spectrum


(George Tichy) #17

Oh tom… you made laugh good!


(George Tichy) #18

Certainly a good feeling, eh?
I bet many people will feel confident seeing all those impressive figures. The Church must be solid!


(George Tichy) #19

Well, “conversation” is an excellent platform, the most user friendly of all I have seen. And of course, we can’t ignore the WebEds, they are just fabulous! All combined makes a big difference and makes the site very attractive.
.


(George Tichy) #20

Oh yes, that for sure!

I bet you are referring to the fact that TOSC cost about $1 mil and then, because it backfired on him, Ted Wilson ‘managed’ the issue at the AC so that the TOSC’s conclusions were just tossed and a simple question was the replacement sent to the Session for voting. And we already know what the result will be.

So…, what “another achievement” are you exactly referring to?