For many Seventh-day Adventists who are planning to attend the 2015 General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, 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 debate. This world 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 visitors from four corners of the globe, nearly 2,600 delegates officially representing the church membership will engage in a “voting marathon,” so-called by a colleague of mine. This year voting will be done electronically.
Several features of the upcoming 60th session, to be held July 2-11, include the election of top church leadership for the next quinquennium. The session agenda 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” regarding whether “it is acceptable for division executive committees, as it 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).
Much time during the session will be devoted to “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 on two weekends—the session 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, all Seventh-day Adventists are being asked to commit the convocation and its deliberations to prayer. Keeping the session in our prayers is—many will agree—an Adventist way of expressing our belief in God’s leadership among His people until the return of Jesus.