How Delegates Are Selected for General Conference Sessions

The world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is abuzz with preparations for the upcoming General Conference Session. The 60th meeting of its kind in the 152-year history of the denomination will take place in San Antonio, Texas and will see as many as 60,000 people from more than 170 countries gather in the Alamodome. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

May it be so. …

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The gender and age breakdown says it all. The GC delegates do not represent the church as a whole.

If 50% of the delegates must be laypersons, why are there not more women? If the majority of delegates, are laypersons why is that directly contradicted by the following statement?

Either the majority are laypersons or the majority are based on positions. How can it be both?

Edit: I think my math was bad. Apparently 50% of 50% must be laypersons. That leaves 75% of the delegate pool dominated by males.


How delegates are chosen:

In some divisions, if you are pro-WO, you are chosen. There should be some democratic process of nomination and election, as the official church in some areas does not represent the membership.

Misleading. The General Conference is a support organization for the Union Conferences, just as the Union Conferences are support organizations for the Local Conferences, etc.

Also wrong. The GC does not get to define the Fundamental Beliefs. But I agree that the power grab that started with the enumeration is continuing.

Right, and that 25% is largely chosen by the group the other 75% represent.

Unity in diversity. Unity in purpose. Not uniformity in cultural issues. And certainly not preserving the status quo just because it is the status quo.


Perhaps I’m just a little OCD, but I noticed that 1% of the delegates are “ageless” :smile:. (I suspect the percentage figures are rounded to the nearest whole percent, and that is why the numbers add up to 99 and not 100).

On a slightly more serious note, it’s disturbing that 84% of delegates are over the age of 40, and 57% (or 58%) are over the age of 50. If that is actually representative of the church demographic, it doesn’t bode well for the future.


It may represent the age distribution in the US where the last numbers I saw show a median age for north America at 51 years. I have had a hard time confirming it, but I understand that in South America and Southern Africa the church is considarably younger.

The university System of Georgia consists of 33 colleges and universities. on a regular basis, the presidents of each unit meet with the Chancellor and his staff. at one such meeting early in my career as Vice President I was sent to represent my president who was ill. I was introduced, an old timer immediately took the seat beside me, and began to instruct me on how to vote on each issue…Non of which had any real significance to the system. of course I listened and then voted my own position that I could defend with my president.

How many of the delegates will understand that if they vote to accept the report of the nominating committee they have actually voted for the new slate of officers. for most, the session is an excellent field trip. Tom Z


the North American church is an Aging church. Average age in Geo-Cumberland is 57. Only something like 28% have children of school age – Kindergarten to College.
I was amazed at the number of Pastors who are 5 to 7 years from retirement age in NA.
The majority of SDAs in NA are Grandparent age.
The sad thing about these pictures [statistics] is that members are satisfied with these numbers. These numbers do NOT Alarm anyone.
So it is business as usual.



Thats because of people like Jeremy @vandieman who refuse to give their age :wink:


Looks like a jury rigged system. If you want to change it, quit feeding it. Of course they say they are the storehouse. What else would you expect them to say?


this isn’t quite right, tony…it’s not that i’m refusing to give my age, it’s that i’m not agreeing to give it…there is a difference…

as for this article, and the implied follow-ups, i’m really glad to understand something of the way delegates are chosen…what i really want to know is whether international delegates are receiving an all-expense paid vacation that somehow circumvents working visa requirements - are their paid expenses categorized as something other than pay…i’m noticing that some fairly pricey hotels in the river walk area of downtown san antonio, near the aladome, are all completely booked up for the dates of the general conference session…and presumably they’re also getting some kind of stipend for meals…

lol good one Jeremy. The next time your done for speeding, you should say to the Judge, I didnt “refuse” to take the tick, its just that I didnt “agree” to take it…there is a big difference, judge.

I’m sure he’ll understand :wink:

And your question about delegates is an interesting one.



In talking to one delegate from the South Pacific Division I understand that it will be for him an all expenses paid working holiday.He is also allowed an extra 3 nights accommodation, presumably to allow recovery from jet lag and to allow for international flight connections. And he will be accompanied by his wife at her expense.However, a double room will be provided.

Why Immigration should be concerned about the fact that aliens are visiting to transact ecclesiastical business at an international conference based in America is beyond me. But then I am not American Immigration.

Was it in Utrecht in 1995 that many delegates from the two thirds world stayed in specially constructed, demountable booth like accommodation in gymnasiums or the like?

When you have gender exclusiveness as we do in the pastoral ministry you will undoubtably have severe under representation of that excluded gender in the delegates. How dismal must it get to demonstrate how gender biased the function of our church is?

The other part of this puzzel that is of concern is the low numbers of the 30 somethings. I am all for experience that comes with age, but we need to see more thirty somethings and less than thirty being part of the decision making process of our beloved denomination. We have MUCH to improve upon. That it is still 150+ years later this dismal in gender balance is a real shame.


One is eligible to be President of the United States at 35, but not an officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One wonders if age is mentioned, anywhere—mission service is, understandably.

The rules for a B1/B2 combined visa, which is a non-immigrant visa, does allow for attending or exhibiting at conferences, signing contracts and other business related activities. The most important factor is that they are not being paid by an entity within the US, if they were, they would be required to get a work visa. An honorarium and expenses are not included in in the category of payment.

For those from countries on the visa waiver program, like most countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc. the rules are the same, but they don’t need a visa.


Our pioneers by in large were 20 somethings and by the time the GC was formed in 1863 they were in their mid to late thirties.

Does anyone know if a list of delegates to the General Conference session is available? We used to work overseas and would love to know if any friends are on that list.

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Thanks for the information!! These rules are very understandable!!