Getting Personal: Annual Council Diary II

(system) #1

Annual Council Diary II

While the members of the General Conference Executive Committee have gathered to attend to church business at Annual Council, the meetings began with what could best be described as continuing education. Known as the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Conference, this year the sessions were very personal, beginning with the health talks on Thursday evening. Friday’s topic continued that personal slant as speakers, case studies and skits focused on appointments and disappointments.

GC Vice President Pardon Mwansa talked about what happens when “The Nominating Committee Decides to Make a Change.” He examined the Biblical stories of people who were in some way passed over. King David who was told by God that he was not the one who would build the temple. David’s friend Jonathan who said, “you shall be king over Israel and I will be second to you.” John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The point was made repeatedly during the morning that people are elected to be stewards of a position. There have been people in the position before and there will be people in the position after. You do not own your job.

Richard E. McEdward performed a monologue “Me and My Chair” reflecting on the possibility of not being re-elected and stating those inner fears, “What will my colleagues think? What will my family think? What will my tribe think? What will my country think? What will my division think? What will the world think? What will the universe. . . . Yeah, maybe not the universe.”

G T Ng, the secretary of the General Conference and resident humorist, continued the conversation about San Antonio and the songs of the session: 1. “I Shall Not be Moved,” 2. “On the Upward Way,” 3. “Is My Name Written There?” and 4. “Pass Me Not, O Gentile Savior.” The Ellen G. White quote of the day, and there were many, that was printed on the inside back cover of the special bulletin for the conference, came from Desire of Ages, page 182, “God calls a man to do a certain work; and when he has carried it as far as he is qualified to take it, the Lord brings in others, to carry it still farther. But like John’s disciples, many feel that the success of the work depends on the first laborer. Attention is fixed upon the human instead of the divine, jealousy comes, in and the work of God is marred. The one thus unduly honored is tempted to cherish self-confidence. He does not realize his dependence on God. . . The work of God is not to bear the image and superscription of man. From time to time the Lord will bring in different agencies, through whom His purpose can best be accomplished. Happy are they who are willing for self to be humbled, saying with John the Baptist, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’”

Regarding San Antonio, Ng had advice for his listeners: pack and pray. He said that before election, he takes a box to his office and packs all the personal items that he has there. As he talked the organist began playing “It Is Well with My Soul.” He held up a voting card. You can chose between “I Will Not Be Moved” and “It is Well With My Soul.” Then he invited the brethren to demonstrate their choice by coming down to the front. The aisles filled with men in black suits singing “It Is Well With My Soul.”

To close the morning session, Mark A. Finley, assistant to the president of the General Conference, changed the subject “Toward Unity in the Body of Christ.” What do you do when the theologians of the church are divided? he asked. How does the church work its way through this topic of ordination of women?

He began with the story of the early Adventist church in 1855 debating over whether or not Sabbath was defined by sundown Friday to sundown Saturday or 6pm Friday to 6 pm Saturday. Early Adventists settled doctrinal and administrative issues in three ways, he said. “1. They studied the word of God and asked if God had revealed truth through His word. 2. They were guided by the Gift of Prophecy to confirm the truths they studied in Scripture. 3. They also accepted that in some matters the Bible presented principles and the church had the authority to decide the best course of action to preserve unity and foster mission.

Then he turned to the Book of Acts to examine how issues were handled in the early Christian church such as the choosing of a new apostle, the choosing of deacons, and the conversion of the Gentiles. Again there were three principles: “1. Although the Gentles were not required to be circumcised, they were required to make some dramatic changes in their lives. 2. Both Jews and Gentiles had to submit to the decisions of the Jerusalem Council, which were not easily acceptable for them. 3. Although Jew and Gentile would not have exactly the same practice and there was a recognition of and respect for differences, this did not disrupt the unity of the church.”

Suppose that women’s ordination is passed in San Antonio and you are opposed to it, what will you do? Let’s suppose the opposite. How will you respond? What is it that will save the church today? He asked.

“Unity is not uniformity of action, but deciding together,” he said.

But what if the corporate church gets it wrong? He asked as a preface to telling the story of Paul in prison because he had been following the counsel of the apostles. Acts 23:11 says, “The night following the Lord stood by him, and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness at Rome also.’” “Be of good cheer, Paul, the church got it wrong,” Finley said. “Even if the church makes a mistake, praise God.” Then he asked the audience to join him in reading “Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.” (The Faith I Live By, p. 64) His closing line was the title of the Lead Conference “Let God be God.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

the unsaid message was – “My way or the highway” ! Tom Z

(Carol June Hooker) #3

The unintended typos “Pass, Me Not, O Gentile Savior”, “Although the Gentles were not required to be circumcised” lent moments of glee to this serious topic. Thank you for allowing them through ordinary edits.

(Bille) #4

The big question, of course, is WHO will be the “My”… or to put it another way, which of the obviously many warring factions was it who orchestrated such a strange introductory two days of what is billed as the most important church meeting of the whole year? It would, I think, be instructive if some who have attended past “year end meetings” would describe previous topics… and atmosphere… of the first days of other such sessions.

I hardly think that “shape up or ship out” as the sum of day one, and “pack up and be ready to move out” as the sum of day two really qualifies as “inspirational pep talks”… but then… what do I know… other than to wonder just "Who is (attempting) to do whom (in)? (or maybe that should be expressed “take whom out”…)

(Bill Garber) #5

Thank you Bonnie, for your deeply illuminating, without side-taking reporting. Your reports deserve being in journalism text books, in the chapter: Evenhandedness: When the reporter truly cares about the outcome.

I am warmed in knowing that your travel expenses are largely made possible through modest, individual gifts to Spectrum from readers here, among which I gratefully count myself. I’m reminded again how trusting Spectrum truly is on the contributions of its participants who are generously invited to freely join in the conversation here. (For those inclined to chip in, the click-simple pleasure is readily available here: Just saying.)

(Steve Mga) #6

You raise a good question. When a person elects to enter college as a Freshman, and is standing in line to sign up for their first classes WHAT is going through their mind? Do they see themselves as a pastor of some small churches for a long time, see themselves in a Mega-SDA church for a long tenure, see themselves as a Conf. President, or eventually having their office in the GC and traveling?

Once a persons DOES get out pastoring a church, having to develop speeches each week, deal with the human problems of the members and pastoral helpers [church board, department leaders], how do they feel about being placed back down in the trenches? Does it become an Ego-deflater, stir up some resentment in the form of feeling “like they have been fired”? all of a sudden are no longer “appreciated” for their service?
Sometimes I think pastors [esp those with Masters or Doctorates] might see an elevation to an “office” as a just reward. Tenure in an “office” as something permanent and deserved. And, once in an “office” deserving to move up the Corporate Ladder.

(George Tichy) #7

I think they need to pray more…
It seems that Finley is preparing everyone for whatever the outcome may be. If WO passes, the corporate church got it wrong. If it does not pass, the corporate church got it wrong.
Smart approach…

(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

Bille. may be it should be generic “To get along, go along”. I recall my first Board Meeting on The LLUboard. I was the only no vote on an issue. The chair said, kindly, Tom we never had a no vote on this board before. would you please change your vote. I replied, no thank you,I can live with the vote as it stands. later that day, I returned from a break a little late. the Chair took advantage of my absence and called for another vote, which was unanimous. the Chair then instructed the recording Sec. To record a unanimous affirmative vote just as I took my chair. I survived, do did Loma Linda, the chair didn’t (not because of me) . Tom Z

(Bille) #9

When one is only one against the tide, “go along” may be the only route to take in order to “live to fight another day”. When… as has become obvious in the past years and weeks that there are only a small cartel of deep pockets and high positions that are opposing a “generous majority” of the church as a whole on a number of issues… then I think “generic” should no longer apply and we can hope that God has found enough who will stand firm against the tide of total control from the top that there can be some real changes made so as to break the strangle-hold that has been imposed upon increasing sectors of the denomination ever since the beginning of the “Wilson dynasty”.

(Steve Mga) #10

Ellen White [or someone] put this on page 57 of the book Education.

The greatest want of the World [and the Church] is the want of men [the want of Women] — men [women] who will Not be bought or sold, men [women] who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men [women] who do not bear to call SIN by its Right Name, men [women] whose conscience is as true to duty as the [compass] needle [is] to the [North] Pole, men [women] who will STAND for the Right though the heavens fall [around them].

Even though one is One Person, if something isnt Right, that is no time to remain Silent. Silence only continues the Abuse, whether Gender, Intellectual, Mental, Spiritual. All through the Old Testament, the Sin God hates the MOST is ABUSE!
ABUSE, whether it is in the secular community or in the Church, or dictated by Church Policy.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #11

The men in black suits have gotten it wrong long enough. We can “be of good cheer,” but it doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to make it right.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #12

Ted Wilson has repeatedly acted to solidify his base for re-election. Is Ng’s advice only for everyone else? Since the president shows no willingness to be replaced, Ng’s otherwise common sense instructions take an ominous overtone of being a warning to those who may not continue because the president does.

(George Tichy) #13


One of my parakeets finally revealed something interesting about the meetings on Wed/Thu.

  1. Spectrum people were not allowed in some meetings. It seems that secrecy was imposed on some issues/decisions.*
  2. Something was voted on, but it’s not been revealed what it is. And it is apparently about the Tuesday meetings/discussions.
  3. There may be some kind of big, unexpected surprise on Tuesday.

If I could only bribe my parakeet with more/better food and get more on this…But nobody should be surprised about anything that will happen on Tuesday.

Another PARA told me that there is nothing on the agenda planned to deal with the homosexuality issue. Nada!

  • It was not a Spectrumite parakeet that came up with this info.

@elmer_cupino @ageis7

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #14

The division presidents already met & it is their decision that is to be presented on Tuesday for voting by the Annual Council delegates. Sandwiched by prayer.

"The General Conference officers and division presidents spent a day debating that topic. …
"Then there will be a prayer session. The General Conference and Division Officers recommendation to Annual Council will be explained and moved for acceptance, followed by discussion and voting on the motion. That will be followed by a prayer session."

(Elmer Cupino) #15

That’s an efficient way of doing God’s work. Get all the voting out of the way, keep them in the vault and use the results in the future to settle issues of contentions, whether to the affirmative or negative.

Keep those parakeets healthy. We’ll need them as we gather steam towards SA 2015.

(George Tichy) #16

Elmer, I will serve them a special para-lunch and will send you the bill!..

Another one told me that the session about Creationism will actually try to re-write FB#6, introducing a bunch of words that do not even occur in the Bible.

How worse will it get??? Nobody knows. But it seems that the radical group is making a great effort to split the church right now, without even waiting for SA!

(Elmer Cupino) #17

Come to think about it George, there have been a number of posters recently who have asked others to leave the church for wanting changes. Of course, we know that this is a form of “Reaction Formation,” people who are incapable of expressing negative emotions of anger and unhappiness, most possibly because of overly rigid religious beliefs. And with TW’s recent message at the 2014 AC “‘God’s Prophetic Movement, Message, and Mission and Their Attempted Neutralization by the Devil” will only further embolden this type of messages. Couldn’t TW have come up with a more positive and unifying message? Is there a right wing conspiracy going on in our church? We can only wonder.

Maybe some of our GC could need “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” to challenge their seemingly paranoid world views.

(Bille) #18

There is, of course, no way for us to know which of the “men in black suits” have “gotten it wrong” and which are among those who are trying to “make it right”. Time may or may not “tell”… but only time will give us much of a clue as to what “It is Well With My Soul” actually meant for each individual person singing it.

(Ann) #19

Trust me, many people in the audience were looking over at TW and hoping he was listening.

(Bille) #20

This is especially interesting in view of some things that TW said today…

  1. At the very end he read a statement, which he described as “the position voted” which was as I recall a simple request for dedication to unity. It would be nice if someone would give us the words of that statement.

  2. He did mention the issue of homosexuality… in the context of the “sins of Sodom” etc…

  3. He also mentioned the need for a tightening up of the FB statement on creation.

I don’t recall anything specific about WO.

Hopefully we will have a transcript of the speech soon so we can examine it in the detail we are dealing with here.