What Is on the GC Session Agenda . . . And What’s Missing

The agenda for next week’s General Conference Session is 111 pages long and is full of mundane and less mundane changes to policy and the Church Manual. It is not an exciting read, but I have studied all those pages so you don’t have to! Here’s a rundown of some of the significant changes.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11818

‘And where it’s more important to be saved than to be safe.’…not surprising, but very sad.


maybe the attempt is to usher in a forgettable GC session, given the fall-out from San Antonio…

This seems a very biased view of what the proposed change aims to project. Does the author really think that the GC doesn’t care if a wheelchair bound person can access the church? Talk about coloring something in the worst possible light.

I think the agenda shows an avoidance of any controversy to not have another San Antonio. So they chose things most people will agree with, but if trying to focus on what handicapped members can contribute and make them feel useful is going to he criticized, then maybe some are just looking to stir controversy in any issue.


lol…perhaps we’re at a point where we just can’t be happy unless we find something to be unhappy about…

My little leadership advice, for this or any future GC, is based on Matth 22:15-22.

The story about paying taxes is a story about a type of risks in leadership - and what to do about them.

The text makes clear that sometimes circumstances may confront leaders with a question or a problem that in fact is a trap. Jesus, by closely inspecting a coin, demonstrates that if a careful study of all sides of an issue at stake (here a coin) shows that it is about culture (head) and administration (number), it should not be turned into a theological or moral question but remain the political problem it is. If an issue is turned into a theological and moral question, people will start to be ready to die for it. If however a problem is de-theologized and treated as an administrative and cultural question, solutions will be comparably easy and many conflicts can be prevented. Wise leadership will remember Jesus’ answer and therefore always pay attention to such traps. Wise leaders who wish to guide a culturally complex church through stormy times will always remember the counsel of Jesus in Matthew 22: De-theologize problems! De-theologize them!

The published General conference agenda calls for a vote to require SDA congregations to establish the position of Spirit of Prophecy Writings Coordinator, who will also serve on the local Church Board. I have some concerns about this position:
• I think that the local church is wise enough to determine the leadership positions that they need to function. I do not think that this is a subject that needs to be decided by the General Conference meeting in session.
• It would seem to me that the local congregational pastor would have the responsibility to address this issue, if the local congregation needed such addressed.
• The membership if the SDA church is divided on some aspects of the relationship that EGW and her writings should have to the Church at large. I cannot assume that every person who might be placed in this position would have the knowledge and wisdom to properly address it.
• This has the potential to cause conflict between the doctrinal position of this coordinator and the local pastor.
• I believe that it is highly likely the Christian world at large will consider this positon to indicate that the SDA Church is a sect that places the writings of EGW above that of the Bible.
• I consider it to be ludicrous to advocate for this positon when there is no call to place a person in a position to advocate for the primacy of the Bible in understanding our doctrinal beliefs.
In brief, my personal position is: This is the most ill-conceived recommendation that I have seen from the General Conference. It should be soundly rejected.
A rejection of this is not a rejection of Ellen White:
• We are the denomination that we are today largely due to the leadership advice that Ellen white gave us during our developing years.
• Our early leaders studied the Bible in depth to determine our doctrines.
• Ellen White gave us wise advice as to our mission to the secular world and in developing our administrative structure.
• We are indebted to her advice in our focus on world-wide missions, media ministry, medical ministry and in publishing our ministry magazines and books. We would not be where we are today in these areas if it had not been for the advice of Ellen white.
• God used her in our developing years. But, this proposal is short-sighted and should be rejected.

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While the agenda may well seem to lack ambition I’d also suggest that the possible suggestions are also similar and somewhat curiously lacking a global perspective, esp since the author is themselves European. Most of the world looks at the US obsession with guns with utter confusion and pity - why should the global church get too involved with something that is largely a local issue. Same with BLM. Clearly we should denounce racism in all its forms and frankly that should not be a topic of much debate, but to use BLM as the platform to discuss such seems counterproductive. We are a global church and while our roots are in the USA by far the majority of our membership and growth is elsewhere and most are a lot less interested in US hot buttons than we seem to think

If they surveyed local church officers about whether they had read and understood the church manual, they would probably learn quite quickly that those who had were a miniscule minority. Maybe then the GC would pay less attention to these updates.

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