By Ed Barnett

For the last year, interest was building around the General Conference session. Questions were plentiful: Who would be chosen for president? What would happen with the women’s ordination issue? And the list continued. I was happy to finally have the session come and go. I was tired of the rumor mill and the flood of letters and articles circulating on what might happen.

It was hot and humid in San Antonio in July. Just walking to and from the hotel to the Alamodome could work up a good sweat. But inside the dome, the temperature was in the mid-60s and it was good to have a jacket.

One thing that caught my attention was that the world- wide church membership is nearing nineteen million with a rather small percentage of that membership in North America. So, although the North American Division still contributes 40 percent of the entire world budget, with only 1.3 million members we have little influence on some of the decisions that are made at the world church level.

Looking at the world church delegations in attendance for business sessions in the Alamodome, I quickly realized that church members from Western countries are a small minority. This is not a bad thing. It is simply something that is easily recognized. Looking at the diversity of people gave me a sense of what heaven will look like.

The business agenda issue to determine whether the world divisions should be given authority to ordain women within their territories was the most hotly-discussed item throughout the session. Frankly, it was good to have a vote on this issue and move on with the mission of the church. Our former and current General Conference presidents both spoke to the issue. I was saddened to hear boos and hisses from people in the dome, who disagreed with statements they heard. Soon it became obvious that, although it was to be a secret ballot vote, the delegation would not allow regional divisions to determine policies in their territories separately. I was surprised by how close the vote really was.

As I reflected on the charged atmosphere that the debate produced, I wondered what impact it would have on how we relate to each other in the church. What impact will it have on the place and involvement of young people in church life? Will the “back doors,” through which some leave the church, widen?

The one thought that struck me the most throughout the Session was this: we need to finish the work and not let the enemy get us sidetracked on other things. I long for the soon coming of Jesus. We each have a part to play in sharing Jesus with the world around us. Here in the Rocky Mountain Conference, He has called us to finish the work in our territory and we need to keep focused on that job!

Ed Barnett is RMC president.