North Pacific Union Conference Elects John Freedman its Next President

John Freedman has been elected president of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) by delegates to the union’s regular constituency session held September 25 in Portland, Oregon. Freedman replaces Max Torkelsen II whose retirement became effective at the end of the session. Delegates also re-elected John Loor Jr. and Mark Remboldt to their respective posts as executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer (CFO). Loor has been NPUC executive secretary since 2010. Remboldt has been with the NPUC since 2005, serving as treasurer/CFO since 2008.

Freedman has served as president of the Washington Conference, headquartered in Federal Way, Washington, since 2002. Prior to that, he spent three years as the conference ministerial and evangelism director and another year as vice president for administration. His extensive experience as a pastor includes churches in New Jersey, Colorado and California. While Freedman will begin duties at the NPUC immediately, he and his wife, Malinda, will be wrapping up existing responsibilities for the Washington Conference, with a full transition expected by early 2017.

Dan Jackson, North American Division president, chaired the nominating committee’s report, which was the catalyst for some discussion. When Gene Heinrich, committee secretary, brought Freedman's name forward as the nominee for president, several motions were made from the floor to refer the nomination back to the committee for further input from delegates. That discussion related in part to concerns expressed by some members prior to the session over Freedman's position as Washington Conference president in a 2015 decision to expand the role of commissioned ministers within the conference. The nominating committee had been fully aware of the concerns involved, and while some delegates wanted to rehash those issues on the floor of the session, Jackson stressed that church policy did not allow discussions of individual nominations from the floor. Each motion attempting to refer the name back was defeated by nearly two-thirds of those voting. When delegates did move ahead on the nominations, Freedman was elected by 72 percent, Loor with 96 percent and Remboldt by 94 percent of the delegate votes.

Jackson set the tone for the day early on with a devotional message that reflected upon the experience of Jonah, who had his own selfish agenda changed dramatically through God’s direction and providence. “The call of God to an individual is never about the individual,” said Jackson. “God has not called us here today because we bring a collective wisdom in ourselves. If you’ve come here today thinking you will fix whatever you think is broken, you should instead get on your knees and ask God to ‘fix me.’ We’ve been called here together to understand not what we want, but what God wants.”

Delegate interaction during the day largely reflected that spirit. Agenda items throughout the day included several important reports.

As executive secretary, John Loor Jr.'s report noted that total NPUC membership has surpassed 100,000, but that a growth rate of less than one percent is a matter of concern echoed by other regions throughout the NAD.

Mark Remboldt’s treasurer’s report highlighted a modest growth in tithe, an improving cash basis for operational ministry and an increase of 30% in funds provided to local conferences for evangelism.

Scott Reiner, Adventist Health CEO, noted the hospital systems opportunity to touch 1.5 million new people every year. “Adventist Health,” he said, “ministers at the intersection of physical, spiritual and community health.” Joyce Newmyer, Adventist Health Northwest region president added the local touch. “We never lose sight of the fact that what we do in our hospitals is truly ministry,” she said. “Everything we do is filtered through the lens of our mission. We don’t just do ministry, we are ministry. Jesus is alive and well in our hospitals. Pray that we will have more opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Torkelsen confirmed an NPUC focus in favor of women in active ministry for the church. He echoed the consensus of the NPUC executive committee. “We affirm Christ as the center of our theology and mission. We affirm the appropriateness of women serving as elders in our local churches and as pastors and in other professional ministry roles on behalf of our church’s mission. We will seek to grow the opportunities for women in ministry.” He noted that there are currently 12 full time women pastors serving within the NPUC. “In these last days,” Torkelsen remarked, “we need everybody on board in the mission of the church.”

Gene Heinrich who is chairing a member re-engagement committee for the NPUC challenged each delegate with a personal call. “We must find a way to engage each of our children in a relationship with Jesus Christ and with our church,” he said. “Your prayers for your children may get your kids to the doors of the church, but it is the people within those doors that determine whether those kids will stay. It will take somebody in the church, perhaps you, sacrificially investing in their lives.” This committee will continue to study tangible ways to make a positive difference.

Two segments of the day required a separate convening of delegates. The NPUC Association and Walla Walla University (WWU).

The WWU constituency adds members of the university board of trustees to the existing NPUC delegates on hand. This separate agenda included several changes to articles and bylaws and nominations for the ongoing WWU board of trustees. The newly elected trustees will be listed as soon as possible on the WWU website. WWU bylaws changes were also intended to create greater accountability of the administration to the board of trustees, and in turn, accountability of the board to the larger church constituency throughout the NPUC. President John McVay shared special appreciation for those who had ably served the board of trustees for the past term. “They have enabled the mission of Adventist higher education to flourish at WWU,” he said, noting what is dear to WWU’s identify: Excellence in Thought … Generosity in Service … Beauty in Expression … Faith in God.

John Loor and Dave Cannard, NPUC constitution and bylaws committee chair and secretary, reviewed several recommended changes for delegates to consider. After careful discussion, and in addition to other editing and formatting changes, delegates approved the following:

  • A change to the form of NPUC governance from an unincorporated association to a non-profit religious corporation. This allows the treasury department to work more seamlessly with financial institutions on the mission of the church, since many of them now require signers on large financial accounts to have valid corporate titles. This does not appreciably change the structure or function of the NPUC, but provides wording nomenclature in the bylaws to define the switch to a corporate definition.
  • Including the election of non-executive vice presidents (currently vice president for Hispanic ministries, vice president for regional affairs and vice president for education) by the constituency. This will go into effect at the next regular constituency session in five years.
  • Specifying the General Conference Rules of Order as the parliamentary procedure for all NPUC meetings.

Delegates approved a new NPUC executive committee, which will initiate the next five year term. The full list of that committee, including ex officio and elected members is available at GleanerNow.com.

Torkelsen capped off the day by turning the last few words over to John Freedman, the newly elected president. “These people have become my family,” said Torkelsen with feeling. “Take good care of them.”

Freedman responded with a heartfelt call toward unity in the mission and ministry of Jesus. “We have many who have left that we need to reach,” he observed, “but we also have millions in this territory who need to hear, perhaps for the first time, the last day message of Jesus Christ. God’s promise is that He will draw all men, women and children to Him. Our job is to lift him up. We must pray that He will pour His love into our hearts so that we can love others as He does.”

NPUC department directors and associates will be approved by the executive committee at its next meeting on November 6, 2016.

Steve Vistaunet is North Pacific Union Conference Assistant to the President, Communication Director and Editor of the Gleaner, the Magazine of the NPUC, where this article originally appeared.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7656

Thank goodness. Any other position is quite frankly, embarrassing.

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THe suggestion that the delegates motion to send the name back to committee was due to women’s ordination is inaccurate.
Freedman was resisted by a large percentage for multiple things besides WO.
If the motion had been passed the committee would have seen that. As it was, and is common in most delegates, they simply go and rubber stamp decisions made for them by others.
Even if the suspicion would have been correct there is a form and process for that and going through that allows buy in by all members as at least have gone in the prescribed process. As it is they short circuited that and there will be fallout. Freedman himself should have recommended the process in that how can he effectively do his job knowing such a large percentage of people have issue with him? Better to address and assuage concerns than to use process to short circuit the issue.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In votes such as these you nearly always get 90% plus as witnessed by the votes of the others being voted into office at the same meeting.
In these types of settings votes in the 70’s and especially in the low 70’s are problematic. Jeremy reminds us that 72% would be seen as good in politics and that is so but this aint politics. Even in politics there is a level that people would correlate the percentage won by as having a mandate OR not. The same does apply here. Freedman does NOT have a mandate to do anything. He is just the next warm body to fill the position.
NPUC is not overwhelmingly pro WO despite others evaluations. One need not guess. One need only look at the vote taken to rescind the actions of their committee who sought to implement such a policy. Rather than let the people vote they reversed course.

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It appears quite the opposite, Freedman was elected with a good majority.

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i agree…a 72% victory would be considered a landslide in secular politics…

to have almost 3 out of 4 delegates’ support is a mandate by any measure…i see it as a specific endorsement of freedman’s leadership in expanding commissioned pastor status to overlap everything comprehended in ordained pastor status within the washington conference, which many no doubt want to see implemented throughout the union…clearly, despite the efforts of nay sayers, NPUC is overwhelmingly pro-WO, and they see ordination decisions as their particular prerogative…

my guess is that the GC annual council next month to address some of the veering we’ve seen from san antonio will find a way to accommodate it…after-all, a 72% vote in a major union in NAD cannot be considered insignificant…i suspect annual council will tacitly implement a yes vote policy while simultaneously upholding the no vote…i’m sure TW has had many conversations with many advisors who have pointed out that inspiration doesn’t enjoin or forbid WO…the combination of common sense and political savvy, which i believe restrains TW, would seem to indicate that demanding conformity on a subject that doesn’t have biblical consensus cannot lead to anything productive…i also suspect that he wants to retire in indianapolis while presiding over an intact church…

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Jeremy –
Has the GC taken on the form of Cardinals, Just without the red hats?

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In votes such as these you nearly always get 90% plus as witnessed by the votes of the others being voted into office at the same meeting.
In these types of settings votes in the 70’s and especially in the low 70’s are problematic. Jeremy reminds us that 72% would be seen as good in politics and that is so but this aint politics. Even in politics there is a level that people would correlate the percentage won by as having a mandate OR not. The same does apply here. Freedman does NOT have a mandate to do anything. He is just the next warm body to fill the position.
NPUC is not overwhelmingly pro WO despite others evaluations. One need not guess. One need only look at the vote taken to rescind the actions of their committee who sought to implement such a policy. Rather than let the people vote they reversed course.

The documents released by the Secretariat are far from accommodating:

http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story4391-church-governance-and-unity-to-be-discussed-at-annual-council

https://www.adventistarchives.org/statement-on-church-governance-and-unity.pdf

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Given our voting system, I am not sure it is wise not to allow referrals back to the nominating committee, but to simply vote them down - especially as names put forward to the delegates are not to be discussed on the floor (for reasons I find quite consistent with the election process we chose). Triumphalism and voting down minorities, rather than dialoguing is something we had/have too much experience with to adopt such approach.

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