Partial Report from the Southern Union Constituency Session

September 18, on a bright and sunny Atlanta afternoon, delegates in smart suits, ties, dresses, and pantsuits file into the majestic Hilton Atlanta Airport for the Southern Union Conference Constituency Session. A bit out of place in my maroon button-down and khaki pants, I’m directed by a hotel employee down a wide, carpeted hall toward the conference room. Even from several yards away, I can hear the nostalgic piano pieces characteristic of these events, and as I get closer, I can make out a delegate or two I have previously gone to church with.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12012

Yeah, this all sounds pretty much exactly like the Southern Union experience.

Josué, I’m really sorry you had to deal with…well, (gestures wildly). I feel like I owe you something, at the very least a genuine thank you, for your attempt at a report. Driving down to Atlanta to fight traffic, even on a Sunday, is no fun. And here you are doing it for nothing but a metaphorical middle finger.

Hat tip to Mike Fulbright, though. I hope he doesn’t get hassled for taking notes.

Sure they have, Jan.

Naw, I got one more comment before I walk off.

It’s incredible to me how it seems every single meeting like this is “LOOK AT ALL OUR MONIES!” as though the SDA Church is “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase from the 1980s WWF.

If y’all got so much money, how come so many of your rural churches are splitting a pastor between 3 and 4 of them? You care to explain why they’re getting one sermon a month for all that precious, precious tithe they’re returning? Because it sure seems like a lopsided deal and a fair question to me.

What were you thinking with your khaki pants and casual shirt? You might as well have been wearing only underwear and a propeller beanie. This was a place of business, and you went in as if you were on the way to a dinner on a yacht, nay, a canoe.

And as such you missed the opportunity to listen to financial reports and sit there playing Angry Birds on your phone or whatever you millennials do these days.

A great journalistic opportunity missed again. If you wore a suit and came in clutching some Adventist books you would have been let right in and nobody would have thought to question you, and if they had, they’d give you the benefit of the doubt.

You know how Southerners stereotypically are - none will really back you but all will be “polite” and rely on one “heavy” to call the shots. Then the rest claim their “hands are tied” but they “really did want to help you.” It’s their way. Nobody that you talked to really wanted you there even though they pretended to be “confused.”

The key problem was that the Norman guy was the main point of contact and the decision maker who was literally exercising the last bit of power he had since he’s no longer in that position being replaced by his underlying. He was probably pissed off and annoyed at that point because of this fact and you were his last hurrah at fighting the liberals. You were the highlight of his day.

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Maybe Southern Adventists. This is really more akin to some SDA behavior, regardless of where they are. I speak as a true southerner…not an SDA. Didn’t get myself involved with that till my mid 20’s. Regardless, this is outrageous behavior on the part of some of the people at the meetings. Why the heck can’t he attend? Oh well, at least their finances are good. :woman_facepalming:

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I mean… if you are told you are not allowed or welcome in a room; it’s pretty disrespectful to try and walk in anyway. Even if your intention is to receive permission after the fact from someone inside. That said, it should be unacceptable for someone to put their hands on you. They should have asked you to leave, and if you refused to do so called security.

Spectrum is viewed as a advocacy organization by many within the church; not a news organization. And to be honest, despite my agreeing with Spectrum on many things, it’s tough to argue otherwise. On extremely divisive issues within the Church, like women’s ordination or LGBT issues, there is no question where Spectrum stands. No effort to portray both sides of an argument. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly sidelined, from no booth at Called to now not being allowed into a Constituency session. Going to be interesting how far this trend continues.

It would be interesting to get a read on how many, if any, other individuals were prevented from attending. Were they excluding individuals or representatives of organisations? Were any representatives of independent ministries or independent media organisations also excluded? How did the Union determine who could attend, observe and report?

Spectrum Magazine is viewed by many in church leadership as looking for the negative. I expected to see an unbiased report on the happenings at the SU session, and instead read a plea for pity because Spectrum did not plan ahead and find out what the requirements were before showing up to a major convocation. Every Conference session that I have attended has required pre-registration and a name badge for entry. After reading this, I can see why they would consider you as creating a disturbance, because you immediately tried to create a disturbance with your words on this page. Which has been typical for Spectrum and is likely the cause of their mistrust of you to begin with. And going around to other people in the building and making your case when you don’t get your way sounds like something my six year old would do. Keep it professional, unbiased, and fair, and you will be respected. Steve Norman is a gentleman and a deeply spiritual man. There has to be more to this story, because that is very out of character for him to act that way without just cause.

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So do you know for a fact that walk-up registration is not allowed? Usually that means there is some type of vetting going on.

I know someone who attended, and only delegates and delegates at large were allowed in, and only with pre-registration. Spouses were not even allowed. It was the same when I was a delegate at a conference session this summer. This is not to shroud the proceedings, but to allow for uninfluenced voting. Every decision and report was made public throughout the proceedings, and are available on their website. Which begs the question as to why Spectrum needed to be there to begin with. I hope it wasn’t to look for problems.

“This is not to shroud the proceedings, but to allow for uninfluenced voting.” Since not everyone is familiar with this concept, can you give us more detail? Enquiring mind, seeking complete info in order to be better informed!

I don’t mean to pass myself off as an expert or representative of this session, so I can only give you my perspective as a delegate to a different session. I do know, though, that if my spouse or acquaintance (or another person who I may feel has a different position than I do) is in the room, I may be hesitant to vote my conscience. I do know, however, that secrecy is not part of the agenda. That’s what the delegates are for. Each one of them is a reporter, relaying the events of the session back to those they represent.

I am still troubled by the pre-reg only. Not fully persuaded as to the need. I was a church delegate to one constituency meeting, young and naive, learning that everything was preplanned and no input or changes would be happening. Maybe that is different from what happens now days.

I have been part of five sessions this year and was at the one this article reports about. In every session registration was required. I wonder how many sessions the author has ever attended. Also, having been in attendance at the SU session I can attest I witnessed no aggressive dismissal of unregistered saints. There were a lot of people there and from what I could tell all were there as registered, and no individuals or groups I could see trying to muscle themselves into the meetings for which they had no registration.

I can’t vouch for how this author was treated. I didn’t witness the alleged behaviors. (I do know the individuals named, have worked with them for years, and it is wholly out of character to share they were in anyway rude, or disrespectful, or dismissive.) Frankly, I feel this piece of reporting more of a personal diatribe and embarrassment because they failed to register and then pushed themselves about seeking entrance to the meetings to boost their journalistic creds, but were not getting their way. Please, Spectrum, you can do better. This piece comes across as, I want to put this kindly, childish. All he needed to obtain was the session’s printed material and they would have received all they had to know. An agenda was included, and nothing wavered outside of it in approximately 12 hours of deliberation over two days and with a dinner and breakfast interlude. Had we met I would have most gladly texted him votes on positions, confirmation of reports, any dicey news he wanted.

But I can report that all positions were revoted save those that retired, had health related needs to resign, and those that personally decided not to continue. There were no votes on women’s ordination, issues involved LBGT concerns, no statements made about earth’s creation, nor even discussion on vaccine mandates. No gripping conversations from the floor about how awful the General Conference is conducting the work (if that is how one feels) or calls for the heads of leadership unwilling to get caught up with the times (if that is how one feels). In summary: a very uneventful session, which will be boring to some, meh to others, and kudo worthy by still another group of saints.

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Indeed, and I agree whole-heartedly with your assessments. I have made my comments down below from one who was there.

Having been there I didn’t see anything of groups or other individuals trying to get in who were not registered. I didn’t see the incident this author claims, but it rings out of character for anyone to treat him as he claims.

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