What Might Have Been and What Actually Was at the 1901 General Conference Session

Gerry Chudleigh, Communication Director for the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has written a response to the film entitled "What Might Have Been," produced by the General Conference. The film was shown this morning at the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas. Chudleigh, who has previously written about the events surrounding the 1901 General Conference Session and their implications for current church governanance, critiques the presentation of historical material in the "What Might Have Been" film, demonstrating that the GC's piece inaccurately depicts the historical reality. His article has appears on the Pacific Union Conference special session page in both English and Spanish. The article in its entirety follows. -Ed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/07/02/what-might-have-been-and-what-actually-was-1901-general-conference-session

Thanks Gerry for bringing some reality to the discussion of the 1901 GC session. There are some valuable principles of church administration presented here and I hope that this article (and others like it) can put due emphasis on the concepts of Decentralization of Power and Field-based Administration.


Thank you.
THIS is the understanding that I have had for the period of 1901 to 1903.
Control Issues ALWAYS destroy an Organization. Secular AND Religious.
There are more than One Control Issues in the way we implement our Church Doctrines that cause distress in the membership, consciously and unconsciously, but the effect is STILL the same.
Still detrimental.


The primary ego Centric nonsense remains–that the return of Christ is dependent upon the Seventh day Adventist church. It is more likely to depend on Putin et al. Tom Z


"Hindsight is is always the best judge of foresight. When a prophet speaks with approval, but a few years later that acclimation is subdued what should the church make of the change? Was that not also seen by some both before and after? What affect was her messages prior and afterward on the church administration? DId they agree with her first approval and then also later with her disapproval? The reason for the confusion is most obvious as Gerry has related it.

Perhaps even in prophecy,“inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

i get the feeling gerry isn’t on board with ted wilson’s top-down management style, in which adherence to a certain understanding of certain fundamentals has become an unspoken condition for employment…i also sense he perhaps rues the upcoming gc votes on wo and changes to some of our fundamentals…i agree that the upcoming vote on wo is probably regrettable, since so much hype has preceded it, and there will be a losing side…but on matters of doctrine, which wo isn’t, i think we should have a uniform statement that guides our divisions and conferences all over the world…without this, we might as well all be independent atoms, where everyone does what is right in her own eyes…

in terms of the gc presidency, itself, i don’t think there’s any going back…the people want their king, and ted is it for the forseeable future…one thing i would like to see is direct membership voting for the gc presidency…if we are going to have an interventionist presidency, and there’s no question the wilson presidency is interventionist, it would be nice if people could have a reason to feel that their membership counted for something, like a say in the direction our church is taking…


I am not convinced that the GC Presidency qualifies as a ‘Kingly Power’. He is simply the head administrator of our church. “The General Conference, which is overseen by an executive committee and headed by the President of the General Conference. is the administrative head of the global church. It is organized with a representative form of church government, which means authority in the Church comes from the membership of local churches, who send representatives to vote on matters at the next level up. Each level sends representatives to the next level. At the top, the General Conference elects the executive committee and officers to govern the Church until the next General Conference Session.” -Wikipedia

A must-read on church structure & authority:
"Who Runs the Church?"

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The greater discussion to be had is why must these types of productions be made in the first place? Apparently this cost $47,000 and it’s only purpose was to propagate an agenda for GC. You could forgive it if the story were engaging or the acting believable but this was neither. For all the record keepers faults at least it was engaging. Apparently the Australian Union have done an Ellen White film which comes out soon, lets hope it is more credible than this.