ATLANTA: Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church held its first press conference of the 59th General Conference Session. Church President Jan Paulsen (pictured) was joined in making welcoming statements by Mark Vaughan, Executive Vice President & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and Mark Zimmerman, general manager of the Georgia World Congress Center and the 72,000-seat Georgia Dome. Vaughan greeted the thousands of Adventists to Atlanta, noting that they would boost the local economy by an estimated $80 million in direct spending. Adventists will be reportedly responsible for 49,000 room/nights and eating 89,000 meals - all supporting Atlanta's 220,000 member hospitality industry.
President Paulsen emphasized that the single most important issue facing the delegates other than electing the leadership of the church was the updating of the church manual. “The church needs to seek language that is enabling rather than limiting,” Paulsen said.
In response to a question noting that Atlanta is historically significant to the civil rights movement and is relatively close to the BP oil spill, Paulsen noted that while Adventists have not always connected their faith and the environment, he was encouraged that increasing numbers of Adventists are caring for creation and rethinking their consumer habits. He referred the question about civil rights and social justice to North American Division President Don Schneider, seated in the front row, who said that "apologies" on that had already been issued in the past.
Dr. Larry Geraty, left, and Bonnie Dwyer, from SPECTRUM magazine, at the opening press conference on Wednesday. All photos courtesy of Gerry Chudleigh
The other story that emerged from the opening press conference was that Paulsen may not voluntarily retire as president. Asked if he expected to still be the leader of the church at the end of the session, Paulsen replied that he had not developed his prophetic abilities very well. “It’s in the hands of God,” he said.
By Alexander Carpenter, contributions by Keith Lockhart and Larry Geraty.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2445