22 Feb

Adventist Church Leaders move General Conference Session to St. Louis, Missouri

By Adventist News Network – Silver Spring, Maryland … The Executive Committee (EXCOM) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted Wednesday, February 17, to move the 2022 General Conference (GC) Session, the quinquennial business meeting of the denomination, from Indianapolis, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri, also located in the United States. The vote comes after GC Management was unexpectedly informed by the city of Indianapolis that the space in Indianapolis, was no longer available for the June 6-11, 2022 dates. These dates voted by the General Conference Executive Committee will remain the same.

“The announcement to us that the dates in Indianapolis were not available came as a complete surprise since we had taken this information to the GC Executive Committee,” said President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church Ted N.C. Wilson. “The officials in Indianapolis have been gracious but found they were unable to provide the verbally confirmed dates. We felt badly about not continuing the wonderful collaboration with the Lake Union Conference, Lake Region Conference, and the Indiana Conference.

“However, God had already foreseen the problem and through helpful contacts with the St Louis Convention Center, the exact same dates of June 6-11, 2022, were provided. God always is going before us to open the way,” he said

The Adventist Church Executive Committee had originally voted during the 2016 Annual Council to return to St. Louis for the 2025 GC Session.

This new development comes after a January 12 vote from EXCOM members to postpone the GC Session originally scheduled for late June of 2020, for a second time, due to continued challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the GC Session will now be held in St. Louis, which is within the Mid-America Union, instead of the Lake Union Conference, the two unions will join together to collaborate in evangelism and mission ahead of the meetings.

Gary Thurber, president of the Mid-America Union, also expressed his desire to work together during the upcoming GC Session. “When we learned this exciting news about the General Conference Session, our thoughts turned to the greater St. Louis area, which is divided by the Mississippi River,” he said. “ In actuality, there are two unions and four conferences covering this territory: the Mid-America Union with the Central States and Iowa-Missouri conferences, and the Lake Union with the Lake Region and Illinois conferences.

Thurber continued “Because of this, we are happy to be inviting the Lake Union to co-host the GC Session with us. The Lake Union has already prepared in a big way for the Session that was to be held in Indianapolis, so they will bring much experience and help to the table. We are thankful they are willing to work with us to impact the entire greater St. Louis community with the Three Angels Messages. It is always a privilege and honor to host a General Conference Session!”

Wilson also expressed his confidence the 2022 Session will be a time for Adventists to come together to share Jesus with the world. “Leading up to the General Conference Session, we look forward to a marvelous evangelistic working relationship with the Mid-America Union Conference and the Lake Union Conference which both encompass the greater St Louis region,” he said. “ What a privilege to proclaim the three angels’ messages and Christ’s soon coming in a united way in Total Member Involvement. As our 2022 GC Session theme says, ‘Jesus Is Coming! Get Involved.’”

–Photo by pixabay

This article was originally published on the Adventist News Network website

13 Jan

Leaders Vote to Postpone General Conference Session 2020 for a Second Time

By Adventist News Network — Silver Spring, Maryland …For the second time in 10 months, members of the Executive Committee of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church have voted to postpone the quinquennial session of the denomination, originally scheduled for late June of 2020, due to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the General Conference Executive Committee (EXCOM) from around the world attended the January 12, 2021, virtual Zoom session, where they listened to reports from world church administration, health officers of the church, logistics coordinators, and legal counsel. Leaders discussed the feasibility of adhering to the planned business session dates of May 20-25, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, that had been previously approved by the same body.

The persistence of the deadly global COVID-19 pandemic and its enduring impacts on public health, travel, and the availability of international visas persuaded the international body to postpone the session until June 6-11, 2022, also in Indianapolis. The new plan voted by church leaders and laypersons now postpones the date for the denomination’s quinquennial business session for nearly two years from its originally scheduled dates, as allowed by the Adventist Church’s constitution.

GC president Ted N. C. Wilson, who chaired the EXCOM committee, began the two-hour meeting by outlining the process of data collection and discussion that brought the recommendations to the governing body of the church. “A team of workers has been working diligently,” Wilson said. “We have been carefully reviewing things, especially with those in session management and planning.”

Wilson added that recommendations are coming from a consensus approach from various groups, including world division officers, health professionals, Adventist Risk Management, the Office of General Counsel, and other Adventist Church leaders. “This is not a recommendation directly coming from the three senior officers of the GC,” he said. “This is something that has come from a plethora of information and counselors.”

Current Challenges

Wilson introduced those who would provide background and context to the current and projected challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Peter Landless, director of Health Ministries for the global Adventist Church, shared current COVID-19 statistics and concerns of moving forward with such a large gathering. Given the rising infection numbers, along with a new, more infectious and aggressive strain, Landless said the Health Ministries department had to recommend delaying the GC Session.

“We’ve been consulting with international experts, and taking into account the needs and concerns. The GC Health Ministries department believes it is prudent and practical stewardship to postpone the GC Session to 2022, given this difficult time,” Landless said. “And it is with a heavy heart one makes this recommendation. However, it is a recommendation that comes because it appears there is no alternative.”

GC meeting planner Sheri Clemmer outlined some of the current challenges to a large meeting of delegates from around the world. She mentioned visitor visa difficulties and quarantine requirements, especially for those who use public transportation and transportation hubs. She also explained standard COVID protocols surrounding mass gatherings in Indianapolis.

G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the global Adventist Church, reported data collected from the division leadership about the likelihood of delegates being able to attend the May 2021 GC Session. Major challenges to achieving a large portion of delegates that were expressed by division leadership included travel bans, quarantine restrictions, and problems obtaining visas to the United States. The General Conference constitution does not currently allow for electronic participation at a General Conference Session.

Tim Northrop, president of Adventist Risk Management, outlined various liability risks that could follow if EXCOM voted to not delay the 2021 Session.

“We have an important meeting for our church. What we have heard is that there are potential exposures and potential risks,” Northrop said. “We have also heard our constitution allows us to weigh those risks and to consider moving the meeting to a later date. This business continuity plan we have as leaders is important. It allows us to be more nimble and allows us to continue the ministry of our church.”

Following the presentations and discussion, the recommendation to move the dates of the General Conference to June 2022 was put to a vote by electronic polling. The motion passed with a vote of 185 to 9.

Following the vote, Landless concluded the discussion with a serious observation: “We have been brought to this point, not because it is something we would like to do, but something we have to do.”

— This article was originally published on the Adventist News Network. Photo courtesy of Adventist Review