June 29, 2010

Proposed Election Changes
Not Accepted

Proposed Time Shift in Election of Departmental Associates Not Accepted
Delegates cite representational, practical issues.

By Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News NetworkcapSeventh-day Adventist Church delegates June 27 defeated a motion that would have altered the time frame for choosing associate directors of departments at the church’s world headquarters.

The motion would have shifted appointments from the General Conference session to the first Annual Council after the session, held in October.


YELLOW CARDS: Voting cards are held aloft June 27 as GC session delegates vote on the question of changing the appointment process for world church departmental associates. PHOTO: Robert East/Adventist News Network

Church officials initiated the item to give newly elected department heads more time to shape their respective departments by choosing complementary associates. In the past, some delegates have suggested that, given the volume of elections voted on at session, the process of choosing associates is conducted in a cursory manner, lacking in discussion and consideration.

“Are we asking the Nominating Committee to do too much, too hurriedly?” former world church president Jan Paulsen asked delegates, while introducing discussion of the policy issue in the Georgia Dome.

After lengthy, opinionated discussion, the two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional motion was not achieved. Delegates for and against the proposal respectively lifted their yellow vote cards for a physical count, revealing that 828 of the necessary 1,028 votes were collected, defeating the motion.

Many delegates opposing the motion cited representation and logistics. Some seemed to resent that the item threatened the authority of the Nominating Committee to choose associates, while others questioned the practicality of the item.

“The director will bear the burden of two until the associate can come to serve,” said Heather-Dawn Small, world church Women’s Ministries director, who speculated that an associate elected in October might not arrive in office for eight to ten months later, due to issues related to immigration visas for overseas nominees.

 “If we can choose the president of the world church in less than four hours, surely we can choose associates within a similar time frame,” said Gina S. Brown, a member of the Nominating Committee representing North America. She questioned whether time was really the issue at hand.


INTENSITY: Pardon Mwansa, a vice president of the General Conference, chaired the spirited meeting dealing with a proposed change in the GC constitution. PHOTO: Robert East/Adventist News Network

The motion’s defeat will leave the Nominating Committee members with just 15 minutes to select each remaining church officer, given the number of outstanding elections and the amount of time remaining during session, said Robert Kyte, chairman of the Nominating Committee.  

Several delegates debated whether deferring the decision to the world church’s Executive Committee meeting in October really made much difference in representation. Kevin Jackson, of the church’s South Pacific region, said the “key difference” was the inclusion of the presidents of each of the church’s 13 world divisions on the Executive Committee.

“I would suggest that their inclusion actually brings rigor to the process, enhancing the quality of the decisions,” Jackson said.

Church officials moderating the discussion confirmed that the Executive Committee, with 305 members, is a larger body than the Nominating Committee, which has slightly more than 200 members.

However, delegates pointed out that approving the motion would effectively block the votes of the approximately 2,400-member delegation. Session delegates can vote to accept or reject any recommendation made by the Nominating Committee, broadening the input, while at Annual Council, there is no body to check or balance the decisions of the Executive Committee.