General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas: Hot Moments Expected
» For many Seventh-day Adventists who are planning to attend the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, July 2-11, a few things may be guaranteed. First, it is expected that the weather will be hot. Perhaps equally, the anticipated agenda may bring moments of heated debates. This global convocation of believers is a long-anticipated opportunity to celebrate the church’s culture, values and recommitment to mission. It is a church business session, but also a spiritual feast.
Apart from the expected thousands of visitors from four corners of the globe, nearly 2,600 delegates officially representing the church membership, will engage in a “voting marathon,” as dubbed by a colleague of mine.
Two delegates will represent the church in the Rocky Mountain Conference – Ed Barnett, president; and Yolanda Rodriguez from the South Denver Hispanic Church, representing the Hispanic segment of the Mid-America Union membership.
Speaking to NewsNuggets, Barnett expressed his expectations for the world church convocation, that “the Lord will so directly lead in the decisions to be made there, that we will walk away knowing God is in control of His church. I expect to be thrilled as I hear stories from around the world of many miraculous things happening in the church. I also expect that we will be blessed by hearing the devotionals and sermons.”
Barnett also shared his apprehensions, and said he would “be saddened by the political maneuverings, that you will hear about, and such may happen whenever you have humans in charge.”
The upcoming 60th world session will elect top church leadership for the next quinquennium. The agenda also includes proposed changes to the Church Manual, as well as to the Fundamental Beliefs.
Much anticipation comes with an agenda item on the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. The delegates will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on a motion, whether “it is acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry”. The proposal comes after several years of study by a Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). This agenda item has been the subject of heated debate among theologians, leaders and laity, and created tension throughout the world church.
During the session, considerable time will be devoted to the “state of the church” reports by the General Conference church leadership, and by each of the church’s 13 world regions, representing a growing body of 18 million believers. For many attendees – perhaps as many as 65,000 - the gathering will mean meeting old friends and making new ones. Much time and resources will also be spent at the Adventist exhibits – a market place of resources from the world of Adventism, its ministries and entities.
As the General Conference in session is the highest church legislative body, it goes without saying that all Seventh-day Adventists are being asked to commit the convocation and its deliberations to prayer. Keeping the session in our prayers is -- what many will agree – an Adventist way of expressing our belief in God’s leadership among His people until the return of Jesus. [Rajmund Dabrowski]