PARDON MWANSA: [Called the session to order.]
PATRICIA PAPU: [Opening prayer.]
PARDON MWANSA: Welcome to our second day of business and spiritual worship.
During the morning session we hope to clear at least three items, and that will include item 135, which is the executive secretary’s report, and also item 136, which is the statistical report, led by Elder G. T. Ng and David Trim. Then we will attempt to deal with agenda item 137, which is the treasurer’s report.
Now let us address yesterday’s struggle to ascertain whether we can use our electronic voting system.
I invite our chief legal counsel, Karnik Doukmetzian, to lead us in testing the electronic equipment.
KARNIK DOUKMETZIAN: Yesterday when I stood before you, we talked about security, we talked about privacy. Yet all of that doesn’t count much if the devices don’t work. The technical issues we experienced yesterday have caused us to make some modifications, including adding more access points so that the voting can be collected more quickly. The technical staff are confident that the modifications they’ve made will correct the difficulties we experienced yesterday. But just to make sure, we are going to follow a process to gain a greater sense of confidence in the electronic voting system. This morning we will do both an electronic vote and a hand count at the same time so we can compare the total number of votes cast by both methods.
PARDON MWANSA: The count of delegates voting by standing is 1,701.
The total of the electronic vote comes to 1,098. We will proceed by using the green voting cards and not the electronic system at least for this morning, until further tests are done.
Yesterday there was an item that was referred to the Steering Committee that had to do with a two-thirds voting percentage requirement regarding changes in the Fundamental Beliefs. The Steering Committee is looking at that item, and at an appropriate time, which is likely to be on Sunday, they will bring back a report.
We have a point of order on microphone 2.
DANIEL JACKSON: When the direction was given to vote, the machine did not appear to have started. It may be worth another try.
PARDON MWANSA: We will try that in the afternoon if we need to. But we will proceed with the green card vote this morning.
I invite G. T. Ng to lead us in agenda item 135, which is the executive secretary’s report.
G. T. NG: I have the privilege of introducing to you the team of secretaries, both at the General Conference and in the world divisions.
First of all, the undersecretary of the General Conference, Myron Iseminger.
Secretaries: Rosa Banks, associate secretary of the General Conference, with specific responsibility to eastern Africa: the East-Central Africa Division, the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and the West-Central Africa Division.
Alex Bryant, associate secretary of the General Conference, as well as the secretary of the North American Division.
Agustin Galicia, associate secretary of the General Conference with special responsibility to the Euro-Asia Division, South American Division, Inter-American Division, and Southern Asia Division.
Gary Krause, associate secretary of the General Conference, as well as the director of Adventist Mission at the General Conference.
Karen Porter, associate secretary of the General Conference, as well as codirector of IPRS and deferred medical appointment coordinator.
John Thomas, associate secretary of the General Conference, as well as the director of Adventist Volunteer Services.
Harald Wollan, associate secretary of the General Conference with special responsibility to the Inter-European Division, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Trans-European Division.
Division secretaries: Nathaniel Walemba, the secretary of East-Central Africa Division.
Volodymyr Krupskyi, the secretary of the Euro-Asia Division.
Gabriel Maurer, the secretary of the Inter-European Division.
Elie Henry, secretary of the Inter-American Division.
Alex Bryant, secretary of the North American Division, who is also an associate secretary of the General Conference.
Akeri Suzuki, who is the division secretary of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division.
Magdiel Perez Schulz, secretary of the South American Division.
Solomon Maphosa, secretary of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
Lionel Smith, secretary of the South Pacific Division.
Saw Samuel, secretary of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.
Gordon Christo, secretary of the Southern Asia Division.
Audrey Andersson, secretary of the Trans-European Division.
Onaolapo Ajibade, secretary of the West-Central Africa Division.
Tibor Szilvasi, secretary of the Middle East and North Africa Union.
Now is the time for the 2015 secretary’s report. I will be delivering the first part of the report, and the second part will be delivered by David Trim, who is the director of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
There is one person whose footsteps we need to follow. In 1913 at the General Conference session the General Conference secretary at that time was none other than William Spicer. He was instrumental in the establishment or the creation of the mission board. He was always mission-minded.
He spent decades working with the General Conference president to implement ideas of foreign missions. He was also a former missionary to India, where Spicer Memorial College, which is now Spicer University, was named after him. Elder Spicer saw a worldwide mission program as the defining responsibility of the General Conference.
He and his colleagues worked long and hard to put this mission infrastructure in place. A giant step was taken to establish the mission board. By 1913, at the General Conference session, the focus on mission was already taking place. Among the delegates were some 100 international delegates from countries. This was unprecedented in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Outside of North America the membership was roughly 50,000.
Today we can certainly resonate with Elder Spicer that mission has indeed taken root internationally outside of the North American Division. And we can certainly praise God for that.
“Mission is not something we talk about. It is the reason for the existence of the church.”
This morning the figures I’ll be giving to you will be understandable, by the grace of God. So here are some numbers. But remember, this report is not all about numbers. It’s about numbers couched in the context of mission. The statistics we’ll look at today are meant to help us ascertain the strengths and the weaknesses of the church. Where we have done well, we just praise the living God. Where we have not done well, we will buckle up and press on by the grace of God.
I’m going to tell you in summary the milestones that a church has achieved so far.
Milestone number one is in the area of membership. In 2013 the size of the Seventh-day Adventist family around the world reached a new height. That’s the year the membership reached the 18 million mark. And according to some statistics, the Adventist Church is now the fifth-largest Christian community worldwide, after Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and the Assemblies of God. We just praise God for that. So we are number five, according to Christianity Today.
In 2010 we had close to 17 million members. As of December 31, 2014, we have about 18.5 million Seventh-day Adventists around the world. That is an increase of 1.55 million over a five-year period. In 1955 we achieved the first million Seventh-day Adventists around the world.
The second milestone we reached during the past quinquennium was the new high in the number of people who have joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in a single year.
In 2014 the Adventist Church added 1.16 million believers through baptism or by profession
of faith. This is the highest annual number of baptisms on record. And we just praise God for that.
From 2004 to 2014, 6.6 million people joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church community through baptism and profession of faith.
The East-Central Africa Division, Inter-American Division, South American Division, and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division are the four growth engines of the church.
The third milestone is in terms of church planting. In 2014 there were 2,444 new churches planted, which is 6.7 new churches per day.
The year 2014 was really a record breaker, with the highest number of baptisms, the highest number of churches planted, and the tenth consecutive year of more than 1 million baptisms per year. It was the twelfth consecutive year of more than 2,000 new churches being planted.
The church, 18.5 million strong, is present in 215 of the 237 countries on the United Nations list.
Presently there are 13 divisions, one attached union, 132 unions, and 633 missions or conferences. In 2013 we reached 18 million members.
World demographics have changed tremendously in the past 50 years. The world can be roughly divided into two broad categories: global north and global south. Global north is comprised of countries of North America and Europe. Global south encompasses Africa, Inter-America, South America, and the Asia-Pacific region.
In 1960 global south represented about 54 percent of all world membership, and global north represented about 46 percent of world membership.
And look at the statistics for 2014. Global south has grown from 54 percent to a whopping 92 percent of world membership, and global north has declined from 46 percent to 8 percent in 2014.
What about in terms of baptism? Global south represented about 69 percent of world baptisms in 1960. In 2014 global south represented 97 percent of world baptisms. This tells us that demographics are changing very quickly: 98 percent of world membership is now in global south.
Let’s start with Africa. Fifty-two years ago Africa represented about 19 percent of world membership. Today Africa represents 38 percent.
Latin America represented 10 percent; today, 32 percent.
Asia represented 14 percent; today, 19 percent.
North America used to represent 37 percent; today, roughly 7 percent.
Europe used to represent 16 percent of world membership; today, about 2 percent.
So this church is multicolored, multicultural, multilingual, multiethnic, multifaceted, but one mission, one people, waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
This is the great Advent family we have loved and cherished. So if you want to describe the church today, you may describe it as an international family, because it comprises every conceivable color.
While we have gains in the church, unfortunately we also have losses. This is the reality of the situation we face. During the past quinquennium, from 2010 to 2014, we had 6.2 million people added to the church. At the same time, during the same period, we had 3.7 million people, church members, who left the church. And that is a tragic loss that the church has been experiencing.
So during the past 10-year period the loss was about 60 percent. During the previous five-year period the loss was about 48 percent. And this is a critical need of the church that needs to be addressed. We need to address the issue of the leaky-bucket syndrome. We need to find ways and means to rectify the losses, the tremendous hemorrhage, from the church.
There are many new babes in the church today. How do we regard them? Do we regard them as mere statistics? Do we regard them as pawns in our hands to advance our political career? What will it be? They are human beings. They are Seventh-day Adventists. They are our brothers and sisters, and we need to take better care of them.
There are many mission challenges facing us today even though we have entered most of the countries in the United Nations. If we read Matthew 29:19, 20 correctly, we will interpret that making disciples of all nations is the marching order of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The word “nations” is very interesting. If you go back to the original language of the New Testament, the word is ethni. What does ethni mean? This is where we get the English word “ethnicity.” In other words, when we enter a country, the commission is to work on every conceivable ethnic group in that particular country. Then we can say we have fully evangelized their country.
Jesus was saying that the gospel must be proclaimed, not in every geopolitical location, but within every individual ethnic group that are within every nation.
The fulfillment of the Great Commission is not measured by the number of countries we enter, but by the extent we disciple all people groups and establish congregations in all of these countries.
Consider Kenya, for example. About 70 percent of Seventh-day Adventists in Kenya belong to two tribes: the Kisii tribe and the Luo tribe. So the majority of the tribes in Kenya have not yet been evangelized.
Then we have the challenge of urban mission. We have been baptizing many people from the islands and from rural areas. But there are many people living in cities who have been neglected. So as a church we have to buckle up and press on, working in cities to rescue honest-hearted people for the kingdom of God.
Then we have the challenge of foreign mission versus home mission.
We have about 700 long-term interdivision employees around the world.
We also have another kind of missionary. We call them short-term missionaries. We call it Adventist Volunteer Service.
Seventh-day Adventist missionaries have been following in the footsteps of J. N. Andrews, our first missionary. They have chosen the path of sacrifice for the gospel.
Then we have Global Mission pioneers. These are nationals working in different countries around the world. So far we have more than 2,000 Global Mission pioneers in 104 countries. Global Mission means “mission” to the non-Christian world: the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, secular, and urban world.
We have directors in Global Mission centers spread around the world dedicated to evangelize people in these particular religious blocs, especially in the 10/40 window. This is certainly an item for our continual prayer.
Then there are many unsung heroes in our church today: laypeople giving a loaf of bread, a glass of water, a Bible study; church elders and deacons. They are missionaries too. They are home missionaries, yet they are the unsung heroes of the church.
Ellen White wrote this: “God expects personal service from everyone to whom He has intrusted a knowledge of the truth for this time. Not all can go as missionaries to foreign lands, but all can be home missionaries in their families and neighborhoods.” We thank God for that encouragement.
When we think of the conflict before us and the great work that He must do, we tremble, but we must remember that our Helper is the Almighty. We may feel strong in His strength. We may unite our ignorance to His wisdom, our feebleness to His might, our witness to His unfailing strength. Through Him we may be more than conquerors.
DAVID TRIM: During the past quinquennium the world church carried out a series of far-reaching membership audits that were prompted by research of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research [ASTR], which indicated that Adventists’ membership was overstated—in some cases, very considerably overstated.
Research showed that membership statistics are inflated because of systemic failure to report accurately losses that include both deaths and the loss of living members.
The church collects a wide range of data. But often just one key statistic affords vital insight into the accuracy of other data. For Adventist membership metrics, that key statistic is the mortality rate.
In the analysis ASTR carried out, we calculated Adventist mortality rates f
or each division separately so that we could compare like with like. We also then calculated it globally. And then Adventist mortality rates were compared with the mortality rate of the general population in the respective divisions and worldwide.
This analysis covers the period from 1995 through the end of 2010. And this revealed that the global Adventist mortality rate was well below the general global mortality rate, especially dipping as the 2000s progressed.
Seventh-day Adventists follow divine principles for healthful living given to us through the Spirit of Prophecy, and we tend to live longer than average. However, the difference between Adventists and whole-population mortality rates is so great that healthful living alone cannot explain it.
The logical conclusion is that our reported membership was and is overstated, truly larger than life.
In 2012 the office of Seventh-day Adventist membership software was created at the General Conference. And currently two entire divisions and unions in five others have adopted or are beginning to adopt approved Adventist membership software. But the measure with the most impact has been extensive implementation of membership audits.
Every division has carried out audits in at least part of its territory, and the majority of opinions have likewise undertaken at least partial audits.
We still have some way to go, but the accuracy of our records is improving.
What is striking, however, is that the audits of the past four years reveal major losses among the living. It is not just that deaths have been underreported. So, too, have the numbers of those who have left the church.
Improved retention is vital. At times we talk about nurture, retention, and discipling as though it’s not part of church growth. It is, because our mission is as it always has been to reach the world with the gospel.
Our long-term failure to implement membership audits in much of the world means that we cannot know when many stopped attending church or lost their faith in the Adventist message. They could have separated from us at any point over the past 25 years, and, in some cases, probably before.
The truth is that the seemingly stellar growth rates of the 1990s and early 2000s were actually lower than we thought, while our real growth rate in this quinquennium is probably higher than it appears.
It’s important, moreover, to recognize that losses were not caused by the audits. Membership audits merely register the departure of those who have already separated from the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They reveal the actual magnitude of a problem that already exists and has existed for many years.
Thus the final implication of the membership audits has revealed the actual scale of losses, not just in the past quinquennium or the past decade, but during the past 50 years.
In the past half century a grand total of 33,202,016 people have been members of the Seventh-day Ad-ventist Church.
But 13,026,925 of them left the church. Our net loss rate is 39.25 percent. In effect, four out of every 10 church members have slipped away over the past half century.
To publish membership figures even though we know that they are inaccurate is to bear false witness. That we are partly deceiving ourselves does not make it less of a lie.
We carry out membership audits to improve strategic planning and enable good stewardship of resources, for if church leaders do have an accurate understandings of how membership is distributed and where it is strong and weak, it is impossible to plan effectively for expanding God’s kingdom, and resources may be misallocated. But ultimately we do not conduct audits simply to tidy up the membership books and to provide more precise figures, wonderful though these may be.
The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 indicates knowing how many sheep are in the fold is foundational for the Divine Shepherd, who is our example. Every one of those more than 3 million members who were logged as missing or dropped from membership during the past five years and every one of the 13.026 million members who left our ranks during the past 50 years is a soul precious to Jesus. Regularly monitoring membership is a first step to improving pastoral care and thus church growth. Membership audits should become a permanent part of the way the church does mission and ministry as part of a wider strategy for improving retention and discipling.
Membership care is the business of every believer in Jesus Christ, and that means that local churches need to rally together to nurture, disciple, and retain our members.
Accurate statistical records are not an end in themselves. They are a foundation for more powerful ministry to the flock entrusted to us by the Savior.
[Additional statistical data is available in the ASTR report.]
G. T. NG: I move that we record the secretary’s report.
PARDON MWANSA: We have a motion to record the secretary’s report. Seconded.
ROGER ROBERTSEN: My question is really the accession rate. How are they developed? Because this is the net growth, but I’m talking about the accession rate. Is it also coming down?
G. T. NG: We are still having positive growth, but our growth is not as much as we would like.
Part of it is because of membership audits that affect the number of members that we have in the church. The second reason is the negative growth that we observe in some unions, especially the European unions. And so this is a multifaceted question that has been responsible for the lower growth rate through the years.
Another fact is that the church is impotent to do mission. Humanly speaking, how can we take on this task of doing mission for God? We need every bit of help from the latter rain that will empower the church to do what is impossible.
KWASI ANIAGYEI: And don’t let us forget: We also have the members who have left our churches who are either staying home or have joined other churches. We need to work hard and bring these people back.
DELMER NAVALLO CARO: Why are people leaving the church? Probably the answer is simple: because we are not giving them what they need. And that takes us to think that probably we have to go even to the smallest church to give them what they need. And if we don’t know the group age, if you don’t know their racial standards and everything, we won’t be able to give them, humanly speaking, the right and precise things they need.
And please comment if you have those percentages so we can go back to our countries and to our regions and unions and focus on helping those who really are the most needed ones for evangelism and really, you know, the spiritual insight they need.
G. T. NG: I will tell you that it is a question of nurturing. After a person has been baptized, he or she has to be nurtured by the church, and not necessarily by the pastor. It has to be the responsibility of the community of faith, the church itself, laypeople, elders, deacons. Everybody should have a part in the nurturing program of the church. So it’s a multifaceted issue that the church needs to address.
FLOYD MORRIS: I want to make a suggestion, because as an advocate for persons with disabilities, one question was asked about where the future growth of the church lies. I want to suggest that persons with disabilities constitute a harvest that we have not been putting a lot of focus on, and that the church has to prepare itself to ensure that this group that meant so much to Jesus when He was on earth is brought into the church and a part of the kingdom.
LUIS TAVARES: I suggest that we need in the statistics the specific ages of those apostatizing, so that leaders can know what to do to avoid apostasy in the church. It’s very important for us to equip our Sabbath school leader, youth leader, and all other departments in the church better.
MELANIE OSURI: I would like to comment on the youth, especially, who are leaving the church. I commend the Secretariat for the report. But if you could br
eak down especially the age groups and look at the youth who are leaving the church and why they are leaving the church.
I would request also that the Secretariat, in reporting on the research, include the campuses and the universities.
DAVID TRIM: I’m happy to say that a summarative report of young Christians is available on the Adventist archives Web site.
There is more data as well. Some divisions, as well as the world church, have held their own nurture and retention summits.
TARA VINCROSS: Your report challenges me as a pastor to focus on not only literature evangelism, public evangelism, and Bible studies, but also discipleship and nurture, as you have said.
We need to teach people how to have an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
PAOLO BENINI: I appreciate the positive and even the stress you put on the negative. We must be honest with ourselves. We must be able to read the reality without enlarging.
I commend the GC for making clear recommendations to the field, not only to retain people, but to regain people, giving them identity, giving them a vision of the call.
JOHN BRUNT: I want to thank Dr. Trim for his report and commend the effort to be accurate in our statistics.
I think there is an area you didn’t mention. In order for us to be accurate, one of the problems we need to solve is the difficulty of duplicate membership because of the difficulty of interdivisional membership transfers. I pastor in an area in which we have lots of immigration. We have foreign language Sabbath school classes in Portuguese and Spanish and Indonesian in our church.
We have a lot of people transferring in from other divisions, and we find it almost impossible to get those membership transfers.
As a consequence we bring the people in on profession of faith. So they’re members in our church who are missing members at another church in another part of the world. And it seems to me that’s a problem that we have to solve if our statistics are really going to be accurate.
DAVID TRIM: Dr. Ng has asked me to note, briefly, that there is no question that this is a major problem and that many professions of faith are actually not new converts. They are Adventists from other parts of the world. This is one reason the General Conference established the office of membership software. As membership software is rolled out, we believe that this will resolve the very serious problem that Dr. Brunt has referred to.
PARDON MWANSA: Thank you.
LUISA CHANDUVI MENDOZA [speaking Spanish through a translator]: I would like to thank you for the opportunity that I have here today, and I want to thank the Lord, because I can be part of this church.
It is love that unites us in Christ, because we don’t have any race or color or difference between our members. Love is what unites us. We need to be like angels for our brothers and sisters who have left the church.
PARDON MWANSA: I remind the house that the list of people needing to speak is increasing. And that is OK, but I would like to encourage you just to get to the point and ask Elder G. T. Ng questions that will reflect the report that he gave.
ABRAHAM GUERRERO ROMERO: I am delighted to see the trend in the reporting of the Secretariat in being transparent, more open to some of the issues that have not been addressed before. It encourages us to see that the church does grapple with the issues of neglect, of false reporting, or underreporting.
In 1986 Elder Neal Wilson made a call to the Annual Council, asking them to adopt a plan to reach all the world’s people groups. The church adopted a major mission program. The vision was redirected from people groups to population segments. For instance, we have been able to report that we have an Adventist presence in more than 200 countries of the world. The number of countries that have not been reached is very small.
When Jesus told His disciples that we should reach all nations, he didn’t mean Colombia, my country, Mexico, the United States, India, or Afghanistan. He meant people groups, types of people within different limits of geography.
I suggest that the GC do something about coming back to that call, to reach not only population segments or countries or the like, but actually target people groups within those geographical limits.
PARDON MWANSA: G. T. Ng wants to comment on this. We will take it as a comment and a suggestion.
Let me seek this body’s advice. The list of people needing to speak is increasing. I realize that we are working within a time limit. And the Nominating Committee is ready to bring its first report to the floor.
I encourage you to be brief and to the point. Let’s take, if possible, the people that are on the screen and have no more coming; otherwise we might find ourselves just managing this item and failing to manage other items.
KATHRYN PROFFITT: The future growth of our church is, without question, in the hands of our young people. I want to bring to the entire church membership an appeal to support Adventist education. This is not just about educating our young people; it’s about evangelism in the most sustainable form.
We have an inspired educational system. We’re the second-largest parochial system in the world. A
Seventh-day Adventist education is expensive. In fact, it’s beyond the ability of most families to afford on their own. So we have to view this as a corporate responsibility. Just as public schools need everyone to contribute, whether you have children or not, I just plead with this body to support Adventist education.
PARDON MWANSA: We will take that as a comment.
SYDNEY GIBBONS: My question is whether we might want to consider a type of initiative that would be
different from what we generally do, and focus on mission to address the issue of the decline of membership and not only to come to a session with a report on the “what,” but address the issue of the “why” and also “how”——how to correct the problem of the rapid loss of membership and how to address it across all of our divisions significantly.
I also want to note that there was a comment made with regard to the trend and the tendency of organizations as we grow rapidly——that we reach a peak, after which growth is not as rapid. And while this is true for organizations in general, when we think of a church with a global mission and the second coming of Christ, could we not think of a different paradigm for the church of God, where, as we continue to grow, we do not hit that plateau, but our growth is extensive, continuous, and sustainable?
The second question I ask the secretary is Could we not in this session or shortly thereafter give consideration to a type of initiative that would engage our world church across all of our divisions to address this issue so that we return in five years’ time to the response beyond the “what” to the “why” and the “how”?
PARDON MWANSA: G. T. Ng, please give us a brief comment on that.
G. T. NG: The General Conference is very concerned about the trend of heavy losses in this quinquennium. We’ve already set up a Nurture and Retention Committee. And a summit is ready to convene, and that initiative has spread to some divisions. So the divisions are catching on. But not nearly enough has been done.
PARDON MWANSA: I see that the number of people who want to speak is again increasing, so would you like, after these nine people that are standing on the microphone to speak, that we take a vote, or would you like this to keep open? If you’d like us to close speeches after the nine people on the screen, just show me by raising the voting card.
Those who think we should still continue listening, show by the same sign.
I think I get your guidance: that we close discussion after these nine people. And that’s assuming the previous question is not called. If it is called, then we will close debate.
JIM HOWARD: This is not the first time we’ve heard a lot
about losses. And I’ve been in many places in which there’s a lot of passionate appeals made and discussion about the need to do it. But the big lack that we’ve had is not giving people the “how”——not giving them tools and resources. So I hope the General Conference will work toward actually providing resources.
In our field we saw the need to help new members, and so we developed our own discipleship handbook so that every new member receives a six-month process in which a mentor is connected with them and they have a Bible and Spirit of Prophecy reading plan that they are started on. They learn about devotional life. They learn about church life, church organization, church history, Adventist lifestyle. And then they’re trained to be soul winners. We need practical tools like this.
DAVID TRIM: The Nurture and Retention Committee at the GC is actually working on a curriculum that has been requested. But there is already a discipleship program that the Nurture and Retention Committee at the General Conference recommends. It is called Growing Fruitful Disciples. It has been developed by the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department. If you already have a discipleship program, we’re not saying you have to abandon it and change, but if you don’t have one, the committee does recommend Growing Fruitful Disciples.
PASSMORE MULAMBO: In addressing the issues of why and how, there are many reasons, and some of the reasons for the membership loss have to do with doctrinal issues. But I would like to thank the executive secretary for the challenge for every member to be involved in the process of nurture and retention.
LEEZEL DEZA: I encourage you to continue bringing training for that curriculum that really teaches us about the character of God.
Listen to the young people. The children have valuable things to say. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16, NKJV).
I’m sure this has been asked, but do we have a software in place where we can have the details of people, information about people? One of the things that I’ve come to experience is that sometimes in the church we just have people by statistics. And a lot of people leave our church, not so much because of doctrinal reasons, but because of the relationships that we have in the church. So my question is do we have a software or some kind of instrument in place that we can use across the world, because we give the same report to the GC?
PARDON MWANSA: Let’s see if G. T. Ng can respond to that.
G. T. NG: Dr. Trim already mentioned about the software that is being developed and or has been developed and being implemented throughout the world. So the software is capable of telling us the demographics of the church. I think that will address the issues you’re talking about.
ED HEYES: I appreciate the work of the Secretariat. I think they’ve done a great job. I’d like to call the question on a motion.
PARDON MWANSA: The question has been called.
It’s been seconded.
All in favor that we take the vote at this time, show by raising high your voting cards, to receive the report.
Those opposed, by the same.
That was a vote to determine the previous question as to whether we should come to the vote on this. All those in favor show by raising your voting cards.
Opposed, by the same sign.
It is carried.
At this time we will take a report from the Nominating Committee.
HOMER TRECARTIN: We appreciate the Nominating Committee that this body has given us, and we are ready to make our first report. The secretary of the Nominating Committee, Dr. Leslie Pollard, is going to make that report for us.
LESLIE POLLARD: Delegates to the 60th session of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists, the Nominating Committee submits for the name of president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr. Ted N. C. Wilson. I move it.
PARDON MWANSA: There is a second to the motion.
RAYMOND HARTWELL: I have great respect for our church and for our leaders and for our process. I respectfully request that the report be referred back.
PARDON MWANSA: That is a request, not a motion.
In most cases the Nominating Committee looks and examines quite a lot before they bring their report here. We encourage referring the report back only if you have very substantive issues that you would want to raise with the Nominating Committee.
RAYMOND HARTWELL: I appreciate that very much, and I have a great respect for our process. And I do believe in due process in our church family around the world.
I’m willing to meet with the Nominating Committee if that should be their desire. According to our General Conference Rules of Order, page 5, under Elections, number 6, it states that with “a request that the report be referred back to the Nominating Committee for further consideration, it is the usual procedure for the chair to accept the referral.”
PARDON MWANSA: Yes, it is the usual procedure, but I would then like to test it with the group, if you are willing to make it into a motion. I would rather get the sense of the body as to where they are.
RAYMOND HARTWELL: I’m respectfully requesting that we follow the written part that says, “It is the usual procedure to accept the referral.”
Mr. Chairman, it’s your session, and you can guide the body. I’m just presenting the request very respectfully.
PARDON MWANSA: I’m going to follow, as you have said.
I see a point of order on microphone 6. I will take that.
SADRAIL SAINT—ULYSSE: I would like to point out that if there is a request for referral, it should be honored at all times.
PARDON MWANSA: With due respect to the observations you are making, I will go ahead and follow the rule of order by, first of all, doing something that is within our rules of order. I quote page C5, number 7: “When referrals are granted, all objections must then be made known to the Nominating Committee chair and secretary.”
With that, I would like the person who has raised this referral to come to the side of the room. The chairman of the Nominating Committee and the secretary will listen to you to see if the objection you have raised was not raised in the Nominating Committee. And they will give me a signal as to whether they would like this to be taken back or whether it is something that has already been looked at.
Can you please proceed to do that?
In the meantime, that leaves us suspended. I would like to give those who were in the line wanting to speak to the Secretariat report opportunity to make their comments.
[Pause while waiting for result.]
HOMER TRECARTIN: Mr. Chairman, the Nominating Committee officers have listened to the concern and feel that it’s one that has already been dealt with, and so our motion still stands.
PARDON MWANSA: So we are back to the main motion on the floor. And if we are ready, we will vote.
SADRAIL SAINT-ULYSSE: Mr. Chair, I also would like to speak to the Nominating Committee, please.
PARDON MWANSA: I take it that that’s the same request to refer this back to the Nominating Committee?
SANDRAIL SAINT-ULYSSE: That is correct.
PARDON MWANSA: Family, it’s always good for us, as we go through these exercises, to follow the rules that we have outlined for us to do. So please bear with us when a person insists. It is fair that we do so. At this time we will wait—and I see a point of order on microphones 3 and 6.
At this point I would like to hold on to that till we just get back from there, and then we will see how the Lord will guide us.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Mr. Chairman, these have already been dealt with, so our motion still stands.
PARDON MWANSA: Thank you. If the motion still stands, it’s my judgment and intention that if we have any more requests for referrals, I will put them to a vote. That way we don’t keep going to and fro.
We have to make some headway.
ELIZABETH TALBOT: I would like to make a motion, because of the magnitude of this decision, that we go back to secret voting.
PARDON MWANSA: Thank you. And is that motion seconded?
[The motion was seconded, but it failed.]
LARRY BOGGESS: Because this is a worldwide church and the vote that we’re about to take is for our worldwide leader, I think prayer is even more important. In addition to emphasizing the importance of prayer, I’d like to call a question on the previous question.
PARDON MWANSA: OK. A call on the previous question simply indicates that we cease to discuss, and test if we are ready to vote.
[The motion was seconded and voted.]
PARDON MWANSA: At this point we are now going to vote on the main motion.
[The motion to elect Ted N. C. Wilson as General Conference president was carried.]
PARDON MWANSA: At this time I would like to invite our president, Elder Ted Wilson, to walk in and be introduced.
TED N. C. WILSON: Please be seated for a moment.
My brothers and sisters, it’s truly a humbling experience to address you here at this 60th General Conference session again, and I had prepared myself for either way, under God’s guidance.
Our wonderful theme that we have——“Arise! Shine! Jesus is coming!”——must be the foundation of all that we do as we go into this new quinquennium. We want to see Jesus come.
This precious church was established by God Himself at the right time, in the right place, and for the right reason. Revelation 12:17: A people who keep commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. And it is with very quiet respect and humility that both of us stand here before you, before God, and we do accept this responsibility.
We cannot do anything of ourselves. And I want you to know that, as I have indicated before in meetings with my colleagues, I try not to see one day pass by without my claiming the promise of James 1:5, to ask for wisdom from God. And I ask that you will continue to pray for us in this responsibility, as so many of you have been doing. Let me express how deeply gratified and appreciative we are as we travel around; many, many people tell us that they are praying. I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, we need to pray for each other and pray together. Prayer will keep us together. And I appreciate the mention of that just recently.
We commit ourselves to following God’s construction and the precious Word and in the Spirit of Prophecy and to walk daily with Him in Bible study and prayer, in a spirit of revival and reformation.
I will not take much more time to share with you, but I have three things that perhaps later on I can further illustrate and fortify, three things that I hope, building on the many things that we are doing already, so many powerful things that our departments are doing, that God is doing through many people. Our Mission to the Cities, comprehensive health ministry, revival and reformation, and so many other things. But as we go into this new quinquennium, I want us to remember in particular three important things.
First and foremost, I hope that all of us will completely and fully lift up Christ and His righteousness for us in all things.
Second, I want to ask all of us, by God’s grace, to be faithful. Faithfulness to God’s Word, faithfulness to this message, faithfulness to the calling that God has given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And third, it is of absolute importance that we have total member involvement and empowerment in witnessing and evangelism.
As we go forward, because I believe we’re living in the very last days of earth’s history, we see things around us that are absolutely cataclysmic, that are shaping our future immediately. We know that God intends for His people to stand faithful, but we have to do it together.
Laypersons, paid clergy, everyone working together, ministers and pastors and church members, there’s one quotation I leave with you. I will read one particular Spirit of Prophecy quotation that I want you to think about. It’s found in Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, page 117: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.” This is going to be a major, major emphasis and theme as we move ahead into this quinquennium.
And so, my brothers and sisters, it is Nancy’s and my humble privilege to work with you. I am so proud of this woman who stands by my side. She is a godly person. She is a strong Bible believer and Bible reader. She believes in the Spirit of Prophecy. She believes in prayer. And she knows how to correct me when I am wrong. She is a wonderful wife. I pledge to you today, by God’s grace, to look to Him every morning, every night, to ask for His guidance.
Brother Chair, thank you for the opportunity of accepting this through the blood and the grace of Jesus Christ. May God guide each one of us as we look forward: “Arise! Shine! Jesus is coming!”
WILLIAMS JIMENEZ: [Prayer.]
PARDON K. MWANSA, Chair
JOHN H. THOMAS, Secretary
NILTON D. AMORIM, GARY B. PATTERSON,
and CLAUDE SABOT, Proceedings Editors
60th General Conference Session
July 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
Since so many delegates were lined up to comment on the Secretary’s Report, it was
VOTED, To limit speakers to those currently at the microphones.
VOTED, To call for the vote on the Secretary’s Report.
VOTED, To accept the report of the General Conference Secretary, G T Ng.
VOTED, To not use secret ballots when voting on the acceptance of Nominating Committee Report #1.
VOTED, To call for the vote on Nominating Committee Report #1
Pardon K Mwansa, Chair
John H Thomas, Secretary
Myron A Iseminger, Actions Editor
Tamara K Boward, Recording Secretary