Official Announcement on Second Postponement of GC Session

As Spectrum posted a few hours ago, the Executive Committee of the General Conference has voted to postpone GC Session a second time, until June 2022. The official announcement from the Adventist News Network and Adventist Review is now available, and is shared in full below:

Leaders Vote to Postpone General Conference Session 2020 for a Second Time

For the second time in 10 months, members of the Executive Committee of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church have voted to postpone the quinquennial session of the denomination, originally scheduled for late June of 2020, due to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Executive Committee (EXCOM) from around the world attended the January 12, 2021 virtual Zoom session, where they listened to reports from world church administration, health officers of the church, logistics coordinators, and legal counsel. Leaders discussed the feasibility of adhering to the planned business session dates of May 20-25, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, that had been previously approved by the same body.

The persistence of the deadly global COVID-19 pandemic and its enduring impacts on public health, travel, and the availability of international visas persuaded the international body to postpone the session until June 6-11, 2022, also in Indianapolis. The new plan voted by church leaders and laypersons now postpones the date for the denomination’s quinquennial business session for nearly two years from its originally scheduled dates, as allowed by the Adventist Church’s constitution. 

General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson, who chaired the EXCOM committee, began the two-hour meeting by outlining the process of data collection and discussion that brought the recommendations to the governing body of the church. “A team of workers has been working diligently,” Wilson said. “We have been carefully reviewing things, especially with those in session management and planning.”

Wilson added that recommendations are coming from a consensus approach from various groups, including world division officers, health professionals, Adventist Risk Management, the Office of General Counsel, and other Adventist Church leaders. “This is not a recommendation directly coming from the three senior officers of the GC,” he said. “This is something that has come from a plethora of information and counselors.” 

Current Challenges

Wilson introduced those who would provide background and context to the current and projected challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Peter Landless, director of Health Ministries for the global Adventist Church, shared current COVID-19 statistics and concerns of moving forward with such a large gathering. Given the rising infection numbers, along with a new, more infectious and aggressive strain, Landless said the Health Ministries department had to recommend delaying the GC Session. 

“We’ve been consulting with international experts, and taking into account the needs and concerns. The GC Health Ministries department believes it is prudent and practical stewardship to postpone the GC Session to 2022, given this difficult time,” Landless said. “And it is with a heavy heart one makes this recommendation. However, it is a recommendation that comes because it appears there is no alternative.”

GC meeting planner Sheri Clemmer outlined some of the current challenges to a large meeting of delegates from around the world. She mentioned visitor visa difficulties and quarantine requirements, especially for those who use public transportation and transportation hubs. She also explained standard COVID protocols surrounding mass gatherings in Indianapolis.

G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the global Adventist Church, reported data collected from the division leadership about the likelihood of delegates being able to attend the May 2021 GC Session. Major challenges to achieving a large portion of delegates that were expressed by division leadership included travel bans, quarantine restrictions, and problems obtaining visas to the United States. The General Conference constitution does not currently allow for electronic participation at a General Conference Session.

Tim Northrop, president of Adventist Risk Management, outlined various liability risks that could follow if EXCOM voted to not delay the 2021 Session. 

“We have an important meeting for our church. What we have heard is that there are potential exposures and potential risks,” Northrop said. “We have also heard our constitution allows us to weigh those risks and to consider moving the meeting to a later date. This business continuity plan we have as leaders is important. It allows us to be more nimble and allows us to continue the ministry of our church.” 

Following the presentations and discussion, the recommendation to move the dates of the General Conference to June 2022 was put to a vote by electronic polling. The motion passed with a vote of 185 to 9. 

Following the vote, Landless concluded the discussion with a serious observation: “We have been brought to this point, not because it is something we would like to do, but something we have to do.” 

 

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This article originally appeared on the Adventist News Network and Adventist Review websites.

Image: Delegates line up at the microphone in hopes of making a statement on women's ordination at the 60th General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio, Texas, held in July 2015. North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Photo by James Bokovoy/NAD, courtesy of the NAD on Flickr.

 

Further Reading:

BREAKING: General Conference Session Postponed Until June 2022, January 12, 2021

Official Announcement on Postponement of GC Session, March 19, 2020

BREAKING: Executive Committee Votes to Postpone GC Session Until Spring 2021, March 19, 2020

ADCOM Votes Recommendation to Postpone GC Session, March 17, 2020

“No Plans to Postpone Session” Says GC President Ted Wilson, March 16, 2020

 

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10984

it would be interesting to know who voted against this motion, and why…it seems like a no brainer to postpone the GC session once again…

One of the things that came to my mind after reading this was perhaps this could be a blessing to the church with respect to the amount of expenses to be accrued were the GC sessions to take place as normal.
Could this be a blessing in disguise?
One of the things I would love to see would be a closeness and a deepening of the relationship among Seventh Day Adventists around the world. I would love to see for instance, Sabbath sessions where people from around the world come come together to discuss the lesson virtually, share testimonies, or exhortations and so on

I think that too often we rely on the dynamics of the large crowd to affirm our identity. Could this be perhaps a new way to conduct not just official church buisness at the international level, but at the local level and even personal level? I am forcefully reminded that no situation catches God off guard. Also, God can work through any and every apparently dire and impossible circumstance to accomplish His will. COVID 19 may be apparently insurmountable, but the God we serve is omnipotent… One door may be closed only for another to open which can redound to God’s honour and glory…

Has there been an official name change? " Executive Committee of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church" and “G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the global Adventist Church”

Obviously the scheduling of a quinquennial is not a divine mandate. If so, God would intervene to allow its continuation.

So the only power available to the Executive is postponement. They can’t change the rules unless the meeting can be called and held in the traditional method.

This raises a question. Let’s say that some event occurs that effectively blocks international travel for a decade or more. Does the Adventist church get left with a situation where its governing rules cannot be updated for that period of time.

It appears that the constitution needs some serious rework, and quickly. It isn’t fit for purpose.

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Obviously, God is not bound by circumstances when man’s hands are tied. IMHO, The outpouring of the Holy Spirit will soon finish the work and the plans of men will be set aside.

What the administration has decided is right comparing to the situation at the present time.
What is surprising me is that; do the church fail to have another way of conducting this GC session meeting amidst of COVID without gathering together in Indianapolis?
What if the pandemic exist for other 10 years to come, will they continue to postpone the session?
Wake up brethren and come up with an alternative for combating this COVID threat.
May the Lord be with you and provide a way in this situation where the church has no way!

I question not the rightness or wrongness of the postponement of the GC session.
I see man’s attempt to steer the SDA Church into the RCC fold, i.e., the move to
treat women as the RCC treats women rather than as how God Treated EGW.
The manmade attempts to revise the SDA doctrine of freedom of choice to mirror
the RCC’s anti abortion model. And in the midst of this attempt to reshape the SDA Church COVID-19 rears its ugly head and puts a stop to this reshaping of God’s church
in the image of the RCC.

But the promise in the SOP is that God will take charge of the work and guide the SDA
Church safely into Heaven’s Harbor. This will happen when the SDA Church appears to
be about to fall. With the inability to call a GC session to make these and other changes in
the Church, man is unable to do what God will not allow. The work of God will go forward
by the leading of the Holy Spirit of God.

My thoughts exactly: if the year-end session could be done virtually, why not the GC session? Or maybe TNCW would be in danger of being voted out?

Covid-19 vaccinations have not been efficiently administered as expected. Several of the world’s countries (7 reportedly) have had NO Covid cases. For GC, delegates come from all over the world. While I don’t doubt that elections, reports, committee meetings, and even selling goods cannot happen online, the GC could take a page from the playbook of both the Democratic and Republican conventions and go totally virtual. No doubt there would be places around the world without good connections; however, the church could probably get by doing elections and reporting this time. Hobnobbing, vacationing, shopping, smoke-filled-rooms (so to speak), would not be easily accomplished. But we can accomplish anything with creativity and technology.

i highly doubt this can be possible…not only has dr. fauci said president biden’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days is possible, but the virus now has several much more efficient mutant variants, meaning the entire population will likely be infected well before 10 yrs from now if they somehow aren’t vaccinated in the next few months…this in turn means everybody will likely have some immunity, either through vaccination or infection, by the end of this year…

2022 is a reasonable, knowledgeable postponement…in hindsight we can see that it’s 2021 that was a bit naive, and overly optimistic…