ELLA SIMMONS: It is time to call the business session to order.
As we move to looking at Church Manual items this morning, we need to ask the Lord for very special guidance. We need to ask again for the Holy Spirit to be with us and for our ability to hear God’s will on all things.
Let us take a few minutes to pray with a partner or two. Pray what is on your heart. But I ask you, please pray specifically for this session as we bring all of these items to conclusion.
At the end of the prayer session, Agustin Galicia will have the closing prayer for that prayer session, and then we will move forward.
AGUSTIN GALICIA: [Prayer.]
ELLA SIMMONS: We have eight items from the Church Manual Committee that have been referred back for further consideration.
HOMER TRECARTIN: We are bringing you the final final Nominating Committee report. Our secretary, Dr. Leslie Pollard, will read that and make the motion.
LESLIE POLLARD: The Nominating Committee wishes to recommend for the position of secretary to the Northern Asia-Pacific Division the name of Yutaka Inada.
ELLA SIMMONS: [The motion was seconded and voted.]
NEALE SCHOFIELD: I have a suggestion. During the past week we have wasted literally hours in points of order that are not points of order and people coming to the microphone with inappropriate comments. My suggestion is that there should be some form of vetting process in the future to stop people coming to the microphone and wasting everybody’s time.
Would it be appropriate to have a full-time parliamentarian that people can go to with their questions or comments before they get to the microphone and waste people’s time?
ELLA SIMMONS: Thank you so much for the suggestion, and, as indicated earlier, we actually have received that suggestion.
Certainly this is something we should consider for the General Conference rules of order in the future.
We call Elder Miranda and Elder Wollan to the podium in order to consider the eight items from the Church Manual Committee that still remain.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: We would like to thank those delegates who met with us two days ago. The Church Manual Committee has heard them, their suggestions, their comments. We also took note of the comment received here, and we discussed carefully each one of the comments and suggestions. We also received in writing some of the suggestions. So now we are ready to present to you some of the adjustments and changes.
HARALD WOLLAN: The question that was raised and the reason for referring it back was that it was felt that the issue made a greater distinction between the Church Manual and Working Policy than necessary.
The Church Manual Committee looked at the issue, and we want to explain to you that when we come back to you with the same wording, it is because we probably need to underline that we are talking about representation. We’re talking about how members are represented at sessions in the church, in the conferences, and so on.
We are bringing to you the same wording without any change. I move the acceptance of this.
ELLA SIMMONS: [The motion was seconded and voted.]
HARALD WOLLAN: This other item that was referred back related to the appeal to higher organization.
“When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, matters that are not mutually resolved may be appealed to the next higher organization. If the matter does not get resolved at this level, the aggrieved entity may appeal to successive higher levels of organization. An organization to which an appeal is forwarded may choose not to hear the matter, in which case the decision of the highest organization involved in the dispute shall be final.”
AGUSTIN GALICIA: Seconded.
RONALD OLIVER: I think there’s a little bit of confusion in the last sentence. The last sentence says that “the decision of the highest organization involved in the dispute shall be final.” It should say, “In which case the decision of the highest organization to which that dispute was appealed would be final.”
ARMANDO MIRANDA: We need to make some adjustment there—but we are not talking about the organization that is involved in the dispute itself. If we can find another word, we could by common consent make this element clearer.
ELLA SIMMONS: This could, as worded here, be a bit misleading or unclear, and I hear you saying that another word could be substituted. We need to determine how we would handle this.
ADWOA ADDO: It says, “When differences arise, if the matter does not get resolved at this level, the aggrieved entity may appeal to the successive higher levels of organization. An organization to whom an appeal is forwarded may choose not to hear the matter.” I think that that would be a denial of people’s rights or institutional rights of the appeal. Because if we are appealing and the organization may choose either to deal or not to deal with it, it wouldn’t be worth appealing to that organization.
So rather it should read that “the organization to whom an appeal is forwarded may decide on the appeal as they deem fit or refer it to the next successive organization to be dealt with appropriately.” Otherwise, it would be denying institutions the right of appeal or the right to be heard.
CLINTON WAHLEN: I agree with the two previous speakers, and especially the last one. It’s this final sentence that really still eliminates any right of appeal, because there is no way of getting to be heard at the General Conference Executive Committee or even here at the session if there is no satisfactory resolution.
I think this is a very basic right. We’re talking about disputes between churches, conferences, institutions, entities of the church, and we need to preserve that right for them.
MAINKA HOLGER: This discussion is a bit abstract. So just for my understanding, let’s take an example. A local church has an issue with a local conference. It can appeal to the union. According to the initial proposal, it can stop there when the union decides. Now with a new proposal, a local church can appeal one level higher to the division. Is that correct?
ARMANDO MIRANDA: That’s correct.
MAINKA HOLGER: So we are already in the situation with this proposal that a local church can go to the division. And change the example one level higher. A local conference can, with that proposal, already go directly to the General Conference? Is that correct?
ARMANDO MIRANDA: It’s correct.
ELLA SIMMONS: Please make this clear to the body. There is a lack of clarity.
I want to hear from the committee regarding current policy, under existing policy, not the amendment, what the case in the scenario presented would be.
HARALD WOLLAN: In the original—as it stands in the Church Manual now—an individual or an entity can appeal successively all the way to the General Conference.
The proposal here is that we leave it with an entity to which it has been appealed on second level to decide upon whether they want to hear or to act on it and make that final, or forward it onward to the next organization.
If a church has a disagreement with the conference, the appeal goes onward. The church can appeal to the union. If the union disagrees, they can continue to the next level. But that level, the division, can determine whether they want to deal with it there or to forward their appeal onward.
LESLEIGH BOWER: I rise to speak in favor of the motion, because it affords the same procedural fairness to aggrieved claimants as would be available to them in a court of law, at least in a common-law jurisdiction where I operate. Even procedural fairness has an end point. And I’m satisfied that the motion affords an end point so that vexatious matters can be dealt with once and for all.
In addition, if I could have the words back up on the screen. Just a minor amendment that might add some clarity to a point previously raised. And that is on line 28, the word “involved” could be amended to read “that considered the dispute.” Perhaps that might add some clarity.
JIM HOWARD: When I read that it states, “If the matter does not get resolved at this level, the aggrieved entity may appeal to successive higher levels of organization.” So if I’m a church and I have an issue that I’ve not resolved with the conference, it almost appears like it stops at the union.
Even if it did not stop at the union but stopped at the division, I work in a wonderful conference, a wonderful union, so I don’t see any issues ever occurring. But we cannot totally rule out the possibility that there would be cases in which there are areas of the world where the policies and practices and beliefs of this body that are established at a General Conference session are not followed.
If there was a situation in which the General Conference was being bombarded with difficult, trivial matters, we could have reason for this. But when we met with the Church Manual Committee and discussed this with various individuals, we found that this has never been a problem of multitude of issues being dealt with.
ELLA SIMMONS: Thank you.
[The motion was approved.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA: The next item has to do with the use of the words “pastor” and “minister.”
The current Church Manual says that “pastors,” referred to in this manual, are those who have been appointed by the conference to oversee the efforts of the local church or district.
We are adjusting the use of the word “pastors” in the Church Manual to be consistent with the other areas of the Church Manual where we are just using the term “pastor.” I move we accept this.
ELLA SIMMONS: [It was moved and seconded.]
KATHRYN PROFITT: In light of our vote on Wednesday, I respectfully request the General Conference consider appointing a commission or some other instrument, as they may choose, to develop guidelines or policies for women in ministry based on Scripture.
[The motion was approved.]
HARALD WOLLAN: We will go to an issue that we dealt with regarding the church board and its meetings.
There were some questions raised that brought this back to the committee. One of the objections mentioned was that it was felt that evangelism was moved further down on the priority list of the Church Manual. This was not the intention of the Church Manual Committee, because it was looked upon that the active discipleship plan involves outreach and evangelism. But in order to accommodate this, we have adjusted the numbering so we maintain the first item, which is “an active discipleship plan.” The second item will be “evangelism in all of its phases.”
The next small change is where it originally said “involve every member.” Now it will say: “involving every member in proclaiming the gospel news and making disciples.”
On the next page you will remember that in our discussion on that day, the question was Is there a mixture or discrepancy regarding the use of “leader” and “director”? When it comes to Adventure Club and Pathfinder Club, we are talking about director, but the rest of the leaders are actually to be named “leaders.”
The new suggestion reads “Ambassador Club leader.”
Then we have added “church school principal or head teacher,” so the sentence reads, “Education secretary/church school principal or head teacher.”
We have inserted the word “local,” because it seemed to be misunderstood by some, and we wanted to clarify. So it reads “Train local church leadership in how to encourage intentional spiritual growth in themselves and others.”
Then we have put in “laypersons” instead of “layperson” because it was felt in our discussion the other day that more than one should be involved in this, so we have taken care of that.
ELLA SIMMONS: [It was moved and seconded.]
BANGWATO SIKWA: Mine is really to seek for clarification. What is the difference between leader, director, and coordinator? Because this motion seems to be seeking to change some of the offices to be called leaders, while others are called directors. Thank you.
GILBERT CANGY: I will intervene here only if there is a need for further clarification on the distinction or differentiation between “leader” and “director” when it pertains to youth ministry, but let me clarify anyway.
Generally speaking, individuals who are in leadership for youth ministry at the local church carry the designation of “leader,” hence Ambassador leader, Young Adults leader, as we used to have AY leader.
There is an exception for two entities that function as clubs. Traditionally we have used the term “director” for Adventurer director and Pathfinder director. It’s on their patches. It’s in the manual, and I believe that we should maintain this tradition and recognize that this is an exception to the rule.
[The motion was approved.]
HARALD WOLLAN: Thank you. The item we will deal with now is dealing with youth ministries. There were several things that were talked about as it was referred back. We have looked at the various issues. There are some editorial recommendations that were done without changing any of the meanings, for example, “towards”—it probably should be “towards the development of strong youth ministries.”
Then we have included, as requested from the floor, “ministries,” and that is actually a correct term, Young Adults Ministries Committee.
Then we have made a correction about the “public colleges and universities.”
So we talked about “Developing an intentional ministry with the purpose of caring for the special needs of college and university institutions not operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
We continue with “caring for the special needs of colleges.” The way it is written, we feel that it covers also private institutions, not only public.
So with these amendments as it’s presented to you now, I move acceptance of the document.
ELLA SIMMONS: There’s a second.
So the motion before us is to amend the Church Manual in Chapter 8 as presented.
[Clarification on age groups was asked by Henry Kanchanda.]
GILBERT CANGY: As I understand, 10 years ago a new level of youth ministry was embraced by the church; that is, Ambassadors that would cover the ages of 16 to 21. Previous to that, we had the whole Senior Youth covered under the age group 16 to 30. We used to have 35, but we cut it down to 30-plus. Technically our ministry is limited to 30. However, there are some who have been—who have invested so much in Senior Youth ministry that they’re wishing the desire to linger on and still be involved, as they are still young at heart.
We should put a full stop at 30, but the legal “plus” is an accommodation for the young-at-hearts who are beyond 30 years of age.
ISTRAHEL SCHOREA: I have a clarification. On page 114 I see Adventurer Club and Pathfinder Club. If I’m not mistaken, it missed Master Guide. In some countries it is a program, in other countries it is a club, but I don’t see it anywhere in the Church Manual. Is there a reason for that?
GILBERT CANGY: I realize that Master Guide is a very vital part of youth ministry. It is actually the main training platform for leaders who are going to reinvest in leadership for Adventurers and Pathfinders, which is a core ministry within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
There is a distinction between levels of youth ministry, like Adventurers, Pathfinders, Ambassadors, Young Adults, Public Campus Ministry—there’s a distinction between those ministries and Master Guide. Master Guide is not a level of youth ministry. Master Guide is a leadership development scheme to equip individuals to invest in leadership for Adventurers and Pathfinders.
WILLIAM FAGAL: I am in support of the changes that we’re suggesting here.
ELLA SIMMONS: It appears that we will close the session at this moment without completing this item or going to the others.
COLLEEN ZIMBEVA: [Prayer.]
ELLA SIMMONS, Chair
AGUSTIN GALICIA, Secretary
NILTON D. AMORIM, R. J. KLOOSTERHUIS, and CLAUDE SABOT, Proceedings Editors
Sixtieth General Conference Session July 10, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 3, Organization and Authority, pages 28 and 29, Church Organization Today, to read as follows:
Church Organization Today
The Seventh-day Adventist form of governance is representative, which recognizes that authority rests in the membership and is expressed through duly elected representatives at each level of organization, with executive responsibility delegated to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the Church at each separate level. The Church Manual applies this principle of representation to the operations of the local congregation. Issues of representation in organizations with mission status are defined by operating policies and in organizations with conference status by their constitution and bylaws. This form of governance recognizes also that ordination to the ministry is recognized by the Church worldwide.
“Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church. The church chooses the officers of the state conferences. Delegates chosen by the state conferences choose the officers of the union conferences, and delegates chosen by the union conferences choose the officers of the General Conference. By this arrangement every conference, every institution, every church, and every individual, either directly or through representatives, has a voice in the election of the men who bear the chief responsibilities in the General Conference.”—8T 236, 237.
The present organizational system of the Church resulted from a developing theological understanding of the mission of the Church, membership growth, and the Church’s geographic spread. Representatives of conferences met in 1863 to organize the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
There are several organizational levels within the Church leading from the individual believer to the worldwide organization of the work. Membership units in each of these levels periodically convene formal business sessions known as constituency meetings or sessions. (The constituency meeting or session of a local church is generally referred to as a business meeting.) In Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, no organization determines its own status, nor does it function as if it had no obligations to the Church family beyond its boundaries.
VOTED, To call for the vote on referring the item, General Conference the Highest Authority - Church Manual Amendment, back to the Church Manual Committee.
VOTED, To not refer the item, General Conference the Highest Authority - Church Manual Amendment, back to the Church Manual Committee.
VOTED, To call for the vote on the item, General Conference the Highest Authority - Church Manual Amendment.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 3, Organization and Authority, page 31, General Conference the Highest Authority, to read as follows:
General Conference the Highest Authority
In the Church today the General Conference Session, and the General Conference Executive Committee between Sessions, is the highest ecclesiastical authority in the administration of the Church. The General Conference Executive Committee is authorized by its Constitution to create subordinate organizations with authority to carry out their roles. Therefore all subordinate organizations and institutions throughout the Church will recognize the General Conference Session, and the General Conference Executive Committee between Sessions, as the highest ecclesiastical authority, under God, among Seventh-day Adventists.
When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, appeal to the next higher constituent level is proper until it reaches an Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee or the General Conference Session. Between these meetings, the General Conference Executive Committee constitutes the body of final authority on all questions. The committee’s decision may be reviewed at a General Conference Session or an Annual Council. When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, matters that are not mutually resolved may be appealed to the next higher organization. If the matter does not get resolved at this level, the aggrieved entity may appeal to successively higher levels of organization. An organization to which an appeal is forwarded may choose not to hear the matter, in which case the decision of the highest organization involved in the dispute shall be final. When organizations review decisions of other organizations, they do not assume responsibility for the liabilities of any other organization. That conceded
“I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body.”—9T 260.
VOTED, To call for the vote on the item, General Conference the Highest Authority - Church Manual Amendment.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 4, Pastors and Other Church Employees, page 34, Licensed Ministers, to read as follows:
Licensed Ministers—To give men Licensed Pastors—To give individuals an opportunity to demonstrate their call to the ministry, especially in the area of soul winning, prospective candidates are granted ministerial pastoral licenses by the conference. The granting of such licenses confers the opportunity to develop the ministerial gift.
ministers are authorized to preach, to engage in evangelism, to lead out in outreach (missionary) work, and to assist in all church activities.
There are circumstances, however, where it is necessary for the conference to appoint a licensed pastor
minister to carry responsibility as a pastor or assistant pastor of a church or group of churches. In order to open the way for a licensed pastor minister to perform certain pastoral functions, the church or group of churches being served must elect the pastor as a local elder. Then, since the right to permit the extension of a licensed pastor’s minister’s authority rests first with the division executive committee, it must approve the extension by specifically and clearly defining the additional functions licensed pastors ministers may perform. The extended functions are limited only to the church or group of churches where the pastor is assigned and is an elder. After the division committee acts, the conference committee may act. (See p. 74.)
The conference committee shall not extend the functions of a licensed pastor
minister beyond what has been authorized by the division committee. It also shall not authorize a licensed pastor minister to perform the extended functions in any church beyond where the licensed
minister is assigned and is an elder. A conference committee action cannot be substituted for church election or ordination to gospel ministry.
VOTED, To not refer the item, Church Board and Its Meetings - Church Manual Amendment, back to the Church Manual Committee.
VOTED, To call for the vote on the item, Church Board and Its Meetings - Church Manual Amendment.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 10, Services and Other Meetings, pages 124 and 125, Church Board and Its Meetings, to read as follows:
Church Board and Its Meetings
Definition and Function—Every church must have a functioning board whose members have been elected during a church business meeting. Its chief concern is having an active discipleship plan in place, which includes both the spiritual nurture of the church and the work of planning and fostering evangelism.
evangelism in all of its phases.
Included in church board responsibilities are:
1. An active discipleship plan.
2. Evangelism in all of its phases.
1. 3. Spiritual nurturing and mentoring of members. nurture. 3. 4. Maintenance of doctrinal purity. 4. 5. Upholding of Christian standards. 5. 6. Recommending changes in church mem-bership. 6. 7. Church Oversight of church finances. 7. 8. Protection and care of church properties. 8. 9. Coordination of church departments.
The gospel commission of Jesus
makes evangelism, proclaiming the good news of the gospel, tells us that making disciples, which includes baptizing and teaching, is the primary function of the church (Matt. 28:18-20). It is, therefore, also the primary function of the board, which serves as the chief committee of the church. When the board devotes its first interests and highest energies to every-member evangelism, involving every member in proclaiming the good news and making disciples, most problems are alleviated or prevented, and a strong, positive influence is felt in the spiritual life and growth of members.
The board is elected by the members at the time of the regular election of officers. (See pp. 70, 71.)
Spiritual Nurture—Christ’s love for the Church needs to be manifested within the Church by His followers. True discipleship entails not only biblical teaching (Matt. 28:20), but also a passionate commitment to loving our fellow believers unconditionally. This was the heart of Christ’s message to His disciples as He faced the cross (John 15:9-13). Christ’s command to them applies to us: that we “love one another.” Ellen G White’s powerful insight into this historical scene is still vital for us: “This love is the evidence of their discipleship.”—DA 677, 678.
Therefore, it is one of the primary functions of the board to ensure that members are nurtured and mentored in a personal, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.
Discipleship—The purpose of the Church as the body of Christ is to intentionally disciple members, so that they continue in an active and fruitful relationship with Christ and His Church.
Discipleship is based on an ongoing, lifelong relationship with Jesus. The believer commits to “abiding in Christ” (John 15:8), to being trained for fruitful discipleship by sharing Jesus with others, as well as to leading other members to also be faithful disciples.
The Church, individually and collectively, shares responsibility for ensuring that every church member remains part of the body of Christ.
Membership—In Membership—The board is elected by the members at the time of the regular election of officers. (See pp. 70, 71.) In addition to conference-appointed pastors, the church should elect a representative board that includes the following officers:
Adventist Community Services leader or Dorcas Society leader
Adventist Men’s coordinator
Adventist Youth Ministries leader
Adventurer Club director
Ambassador Club leader
Bible school coordinator
Children’s ministries leader
Church music coordinator
Communication committee chairperson or communication secretary
Community Services and/or Dorcas Society leader
Education secretary/church school principal or head teacher
Family ministries leader
Health ministries leader
Home and School Association leader
Pathfinder Club director
Personal ministries leader and secretary
Public Campus Ministries leader/coordinator
Publishing ministries coordinator
Religious liberty leader
Sabbath school superintendent
Stewardship ministries leader
Women’s ministries leader
Young adults leader
In some cases, depending on the size of the membership, the board may not include all of this list or may add additional members. The pastor appointed by the conference to serve the church always is a member of the board.
Officers—The chairperson of the board is the conference-appointed - No change
Meetings—Because the work of the board is vital to the - No change
Work of the
Board—1. The most important item on the agenda should be planning the evangelization of Board—The board is responsible to: 1. Ensure that there is an active, ongoing discipleship plan in place, which includes both spiritual nurture and outreach ministries. This is the most important item for the board’s attention.
2. Study membership lists and initiate plans for reconnecting (reclaiming) members who have separated from the church.
3. Train local church leadership in how to encourage intentional spiritual growth in themselves and others.
4. Evangelize the outreach (missionary) territory of the church.
In addition, once Once each quarter an entire meeting should be devoted to plans for evangelism. The board will study conference recommendations for evangelistic programs and methods and how they can be implemented locally. The pastor and the board will initiate and develop plans for public evangelistic meetings. campaigns. 2. 5. Coordinating outreach programs of departments. The church board is responsible for coordinating the work of all church departments. Each Coordinate outreach programs for all church departments, although each department develops its plans for outreach within its own sphere. To avoid conflict in timing and competition in securing volunteers timing, competition in securing volunteers, and to achieve maximum beneficial results, coordination is essential. Before completing and announcing plans for any program, each department should submit its plans to the board for approval. The departments also report to the board on the progress and results of their outreach programs. The board may suggest how departmental programs can contribute to the preparation, conduct, and follow-up of a public evangelistic campaign. 3. 6. Encouraging Encourage the personal ministries department to enlist all members and children in some form of personal outreach (missionary) service. Training classes should be conducted in various line
s of outreach ministry.
4. 7. Encouraging Encourage the interest coordinator to ensure that every interest is personally and promptly followed up by assigned laypersons. an assigned layperson. 5. 8. Encouraging Encourage each department to report at least quarterly to the board and to members at business meetings or in Sabbath meetings in regards to spiritual nurture and evangelism. meetings. 6. 9. Receiving Receive regular reports. The board should consider details of church business and receive regular reports of the treasurer on the church’s finances. The board should study the membership record and inquire into the spiritual standing of all members and provide for visits to sick, discouraged, or backslidden members. Other officers should periodically report.
10. Promote Adventist education.
Committees of the Board—The board should permit no other business - No change.
Ella S Simmons, Chair
Agustin Galicia, Secretary
Myron A Iseminger, Actions Editor
Tamara K Boward, Recording Secretary