Votes on Power, Diversity, and Education Roil Oregon Conference Constituency Session

Over 600 delegates, most representing churches and schools, gathered on Sunday, September 18, for the 2022 Oregon Conference Constituency Session. They met in Portland Adventist Academy’s gymnasium for an agenda that included votes on leadership and a series of bylaw changes. While disagreements arose throughout the day from the floor—particularly over questions of diversity—those on the platform emphasized unity. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12002
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Thank you for this report. What was the text of the “diversity language”/“language promoting diversity” that proved so contentious?

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I appreciate the detail with which the author reported on the day. However, as someone who was in the meeting that day — and having been to 12 constituency sessions in the last 7 years — I think the author, like many of the delegates, failed to understand the rationale and necessary change for the executive officer group. Yes, it was poorly explained and the rationale wasn’t clear, leading to additional fuel and ambiguity towards the ultimate outcome.

I’d actually love to see this publication do a follow-up to church governance, speaking to roles and duties of officers at all levels of the church — from the division to the union to the conference. I think it’d be a great educational piece on what each person does, and the difference between an executive officer and officer.

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It would help me to hear more from you about the executive officer discussion.

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Having an article about officer roles is a great idea, as it’s a topic that many people are most likely not familiar with. We’ll look into that possibility!

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So, with regard to the officer discussion. As I’ve mentioned here in the comments a few times. There was a lot of confusion around this. The timing of past recent events did not help the matters when the bylaws committee suggested these changes. The rationale for explanation was horrible. The chair should not have been responding to the delegates questions regarding bylaw committee changes, that was the responsibility of the chair of the bylaws committee, then serving vp for administration. Lastly, the failure of union leadership, whom are delegates-at-large to get up and speak to the changes was radiant in nonexistence. All around, saying it a failure, would be a putting it lightly.

All of that said, the need to the change is necessary, as it does bring the bylaws in-alignment with general church operating practices. In a nut shell here is how:

The church generally has three executive officers. These are the president, secretary (now generally being labelled the vice president for administration), and treasurer (again, now generally being called the vice president for finance or chief financial officers). Dependent on the church entity/body, there may be additional vice presidents, or officers, This is not always a given. This is why these other vice presidents are not classified as ‘executive’ officers. They still have voice and vote in executive committees, administration committees (ADCO/M) and still report directly to the executive committee.

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Alex, I also wanted to add that a general church-level organization chart, and maybe even specific to some conferences/unions, might be beneficial as you explore this topic. Many members/constituents are not aware of the internal organization structure of reporting.

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Thanks. As a constituent myself, I’ve seen first hand how the ambiguity around the responsibilities, duties and roles of officers often leads to confusion and frequent angst among the constituency.

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Rationale:

VERSION B
2. Diversity: To provide consistent diversity language throughout the By-laws in harmony with the existing diversity guidelines, additional language was provided in the following areas:
a. Delegates: Lines 200-201
b. Organization Committee: Lines 218-219
c. Nominating Committee: Lines 275-280
d. Executive Committee: Lines 306-308
e. Officers: Lines 275-280
f. Replace ‘Chairman’ with ‘Chair’ - Line 359
g. Directors: Lines 363-365
Source: https://website-folder.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/Constituency+Session/Session+2022+Bylaws+Rationale.pdf

Actual language:

200 nominations from those churches. Each church shall give consideration to appoint individuals that provide age,
201 sex, ethnic, and/or minority representation of their membership to the committees.

218 designated by the chair. In selecting members, the committee shall give consideration to individuals that
219 provide age, sex, ethnic, and/or minority representation on the committees.

275 iii. In the case of open offices of President, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President for Education
276 Ministries, and Vice President for Church Ministries, where there is no incumbent, the Nominating
277 Committee shall give consideration to female and/or ethnic minority candidates for such positions.
278 Except, for the office of President, the Nominating Committee shall not consider a female candidate
279 unless women’s ordination is equally recognized by the NPUC or the Church Manual permits other
280 credentialed pastors to hold the office of President.

306 The gender, ethnic, and geographic composition of the conference shall be considered when electing these
307 members.Appointments to the Executive Committee shall include consideration of geographic composition,
308 diversity in age, sex, race, and ethnicity.

359 Education Ministries, school principals/head teachers, and school board chair–men–.

363 (60) days after the Regular Session of the cConference. In the case of vacant offices, where there is no incumbent,
364 the Executive Committee shall give consideration to female and/or ethnic minority candidates for each Department
365 Director and Associate Director position.

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