THOMAS L LEMON: Good evening, I wanted to present these brief thoughts with you from the New Living Translation, a letter from Paul and Timothy to the servants of Christ Jesus. In writing he says, “To all of God's special team in,” dare we say, St Louis, Missouri? The Bible says in Philippi, “who belong to Christ Jesus, including leaders. May God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make all my requests for all of you with joy. For you have been my partners in spreading the good news about Christ, from the time you first heard it until now, and I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue this work until it is finally finished on the day of Jesus Christ.” We'll stop there. I look across this group, and it has dwindled a little bit. We've got the faithful remnant here tonight. I look at you and I want to say, “My dear friends,” —Some of you I've never met, but I consider you my friends—we are on this journey with Jesus Christ that will end in the day when He returns. Well, actually, it will transition, and the journey will continue in a different place, in a different set of circumstances. I want to be in relationship with Him and you on that day, so that we can enjoy the joy of our Lord together. As we begin this meeting tonight, may we begin it with the grace and the peace, that the Apostle Paul wished, prayed, and sought God's blessings for, for his church at Philippi. We pray that for our group here tonight in St Louis. I have asked a new friend of mine that I just met a while ago, Stanley Fernandes, from our South American Division, if he would come to microphone 1 and have prayer for this evening. Would you stand with me as we pray.
[Prayer by Stanley Botti Fernandes.]
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. You may be seated. We are going to spend our time this evening on the Church Manual. Some of the things have been referred back, and will be brought forward again. Some are new things that we haven't seen before. I'm looking to Gerson Santos who will be on hand as the secretary of our Church Manual Committee. They've been working on these changes and adaptations since the last gestation in San Antonio. Gerson, if you will please take us forward into our agenda this evening.
GERSON P SANTOS: I'll be glad to do that, Mr. Chair. Good evening, everyone. I need to say a couple words of gratitude to you who have been so patient. For you walking through this long list with us. We were able to present all 37 items to you. We have several items that were referred back to the committee. We met during lunchtime and now we’re bringing them back to you. Before I present that, I'd like to say a few words of gratitude to our Church Manual Committee. We met several times during the quinquennium, and this agenda was prepared a long time ago, because we were planning to meet in 2020. This was actually the meeting that we will have today, two years later. This is why, we live in a very unique time, when the quinquennium is now three years. So, this is going to be very fast. We still have a few times to meet with our committee during this next term. Some of the items that I'm going to present to you from the Church Manual Committee are not complete. We received many good contributions from here on the floor, by e-mail, and from those who came before the committee during lunchtime to present their ideas and contributions. We are very thankful for everything that we’ve heard. I try to the best of my ability to take notes of every observation and comment that was presented here through e-mail, and also during the committee. However, as you can imagine, because we have a large number of items to discuss in just a period of an hour and a half, it was impossible for us to integrate all observations. There are very few that you may see that are not contemplated in this presentation that we will bring to you now. For that, I want to tell you, it's not lost. We still have the notes. Next time we meet with the Church Manual Committee, we will present this back to the committee. Some of those comments or observations were so important that we didn't want to take them lightly. We really want to spend time considering how we can incorporate those suggestions and recommendations in a way that will look good in our Church Manual, be easy to understand, and be practical to apply in our local churches. The bottom line is this: preparing a document will make it easier to be implemented at the local church, under the leadership of our pastors and elders, in each one of our congregations.
So, having said that, Pastor Chair, the first item referred back was 405 in our list in the previous agenda. Which is 427-22. It's about Business Meetings and the rationale is to clarify some of the organizational aspects of the church business meetings. Okay. In this document you can see “When and How the Nominating Committee is Appointed—The nominating committee should be appointed early in the closing quarter of the election term and should report at least three weeks before the final Sabbath of the election term, except in the case of a standing nominating committee which functions year-round.” As you can see, we had a few changes that came from your recommendations. The next page, page 4, paragraph numbered 3 “In the case of a standing committee, the board may fill any vacancies in their membership, or the organizing committee may choose to nominate a new list of members to the nominating committee, for election by the church in business session.” We edited this paragraph and one of the major observations was about the term, and we covered that. Also, what happens to the few vacant positions in the committee. Number 2, beginning with “The organizing committee” on line 28. Let me start from line 27. “Every effort should be made to ensure fair representation in the composition of the nominating committee representing a range of age groups and genders and limiting representation to no more than two members from the same immediate family.” We spent quite a bit of time making it as clear as possible and trying to describe our intention. I think it came out very good. So, thanks for the suggestions you gave to us. Well, Pastor Chair, these are the changes that were made on item 405 in our agenda, 427 is the reference number, and I move we accept this recommendation.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Do we have support for that? Yes. Okay. The discussion can begin now if you choose. I don’t see anyone going to the mic.
GERSON P SANTOS: Sorry, I jumped ahead of the game here. Actually, I presented both 405 and 412, showing the last and the next page. I apologize for that. We can take one at a time. It would be more appropriate. So, let's start with 405, which is page 2 in your agenda. There is just one change there. And the change as you can see is, “should be” instead of “typically,” and, the pastor, an elder “chosen by the pastor” or “his designee.” That is the way we are presenting, and that is the one I moved, 405, which is reference number 427. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Do you have any questions on this one on page 2, how business meetings “should be” announced a week or two . . . and an elder “chosen by the pastor” or “his designee.” Microphone 2, Jeroen Tuinstra, Belgian-Luxembourg Conference.
JEROEN TUINSTRA: Just a question of clarification. Are we now voting on both documents in one go, or just the first one?
THOMAS L LEMON: Just 405.
JEROEN TUINSTRA: Nothing else?
THOMAS L LEMON: Not the next one.
JEROEN TUINSTRA: Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: We got a little bit out of sequence here but that’s okay. Alright, I don’t see anyone else at a microphone and there is no one online. I will call for the vote. I would point out to you that we will have fewer numbers in our voting tonight because of our attendance. We have worn you out. Frankly, we've worn us out, too.
TODD MCFARLAND: Mr. Chairman, the ballot is up. We have two minutes to vote.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay, you know how to do this. Prayerfully consider “yes” or “no” and then push “submit.” It won’t go anywhere unless you push “submit.” I want to say a word of appreciation to our organist who keeps a calm, steady sound going to soothe us as we wait through the voting process. I have appreciated that very much.
THOMAS L LEMON: We have 899 “yes” votes. That's 99.1 percent. And 8 “no” votes, which is .9 percent. The changes that we have just referred to are made. Now we'll go to page 3, and you've already heard Elder Santos' presentation on that. Brother Gerson, did you want to say more, or shall we just go ahead and take the motion and then get the discussion started?
GERSON P SANTOS: I believe it's pretty clear, Pastor Chair. I already explained. We made just three small corrections due to the observations we received.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. We have in the queue number 4, Abraham Dalu.
ABRAHAM DALU: The question is just a clarification on the term “immediate family.” It may not have the same meaning outside of the United States. Cousins and so forth in some other parts of the world may be taken as immediate family. If clarification can be provided, then I would really appreciate that. Thank you.
GERSON P SANTOS: Mr. Chair, if I may. Thank you. I believe this is an excellent observation. That's the reason in the Church Manual latitude is given for different divisions of the world to work in the notes—that is a section at the end of the Church Manual—where the world divisions can make special observations or definitions of something that could be more like a Western description and wouldn't make much sense in another cultural. So, because this document is prepared for the worldwide family, this is what we come with. And we decided in the committee that this was the best way to describe in a simple way what our intention was. Of course, in some cultures, cousins will be very close, immediate families, and other cultures this wouldn't be. This is something that we'll leave to the divisions and the common sense of the leaders and the pastors in the field to decide. Again, Pastor Chair, that's the best definition we could give during the short time we had.
This would not prevent you submitting to your division a request for us to review in the future. By the way, Pastor Chair, the only way we can revisit an item is if you accept it. If you do not accept it and you send it back, we could not work on that. If you accept, then we can work and make it better, according to your preference.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. We will move to microphone number 1. This is Ruben Barros Godoy.
RUBEN BARROS GODOY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like clarification. If my church decides for the standing nominating committee, let’s suppose that during the year some decisions are made, do we need to present the decisions to the church committee or directly to the church members for approval? I tried to understand, but I didn’t get it.
THOMAS L LEMON: Brother Santos?
GERSON P SANTOS: To the best of my knowledge, I understand that the final word is from the church when they meet in a business meeting. In this case, the report will come from the nominating committee, but it has to be presented to the church.
RUBEN BARROS GODOY: Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: We now move to microphone number 2, Jaanus-Janari Kogerman from the Estonian Conference.
JAANUS-JANARI KOGERMAN: Thank you, Chair. The clarification to the previous delegate was quite good. I do believe that this will help us know how to process that kind of situation in real life.
I do have a slight technical correction and I don't know how the chair would like to proceed with this. In page 4, line 17, point number 3, it talks about standing nominating committee, which is not part of the organizing committee. If the chair would approve, I move an amendment to delete point number 3 from line 17 to make it clear and readable.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. I don't want to change things on the floor here particularly. I think numbers 1 and 2 talk about how the nominating committee is chosen annually or biannually. Number 3 talks about the standing committee and it simply says there, “The board may fill vacancies in their membership.” Numbers 1 and 2 apply to what you have on the page before. Number 3 is for when it's a little different and you have a standing nominating committee. I don't think I see a real problem here. It makes a lot of sense to me, but that's my judgment. I don't think we really need to make a change here.
JAANUS-JANARI KOGERMAN: May I reply?
THOMAS L LEMON: Yes.
JAANUS-JANARI KOGERMAN: Points 1 and 2 are not talking about nominating committee but an organizing committee, which is a different body in a local church. Point 3 is talking about a nominating committee which is not an organizing committee and therefore it is misleading. I do not see a huge problem but maybe it can be referred to the committee for later discussion.
THOMAS L LEMON: If this will work for you, we will delete number 3 and create it as a stand-alone paragraph.
JAANUS-JANARI KOGERMAN: Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Jeff Scoggins, please, at microphone number 7.
JEFF SCOGGINS: It is anticipated that there will be questions on how the process works in more detail. That has already been supplied to the Ministerial Association, so that if this is adopted, they are ready to provide extra information and supplemental explanations for how this process can work.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you, Elder Scoggins. We'll call for the display of the motion required and ask you to vote.
TODD MCFARLAND: The ballot is open. You have two minutes.
THOMAS L LEMON: We have a passage of the motion to amend the Church Manual, chapter 9, with 952 votes “yes,” 98.6 percent, 14 votes or 1.4 percent “no” votes. So that motion carries.
And move on, then, to item number 413.
GERSON P SANTOS: That's correct, Mr. Chair. Item number 413. It's about the term of office. The rationale, as you remember, this amendment allows three-year terms of office in exceptional circumstances, if approved by the conference. The reason for that, as you can imagine, could be political unrest, catastrophic unrest, pastoral transition time, who knows, another pandemic coming. We don't know what the future will bring. “In exceptional circumstances, and in consultation with the conference, the term of office may be extended an additional year.” I move it, Pastor Chair.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Is there support for that? I see support, hear support. That's good. Questions on this one? Looking around. I don't see anybody coming to the microphones. We have no one in the queue. I'm assuming from that that you're prepared to vote, and assumptions can be dangerous, but I think we're okay this time. So, Brother Parliamentarian, if you would display the ballot, we will move forward.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. The ballot is open. The body has two minutes.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. The balloting is closing now, and we'll have the results. Looks like about 959 ballots cast. Alright, Mr. Chairman. The results are there.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay, 948 votes “yes,” 98.9 percent, 11 votes “no,” 1.1 percent. So that carries. I might say to the body, you may recall referring back item number 408, and that is not going to be discussed tonight. The committee reviewed that and has chosen to table it and will bring it back at our next time together. I don't think it will be this Session. But you may be wondering about that. The committee has looked at it carefully and decided they weren't ready to bring it back just yet. So, with that in mind we'll move on to the next one. Brother Santos.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. The next one is 421 in this new agenda, which is item 443, in the reference number. It's regarding the Youth Ministries, as you recall this morning. We studied this at the committee; we heard from several people, especially the leadership from the Youth Department. We are bringing this back to you on page 7, on the new agenda, line 42. We decided to stay with the recommendation that came from the Youth Department. Again, it's not just from the General Conference Youth Department. The report was made that world divisions participated in this revision. On the top of page 9, you can see there, we spoke about the change on “advisor” and “sponsor.” Then the last part of the paragraph, we have a full stop after “members of the church board.” It's just to simplify the language and make it easy for people to understand. There was another recommendation that you gave to us earlier today and I believe, Pastor Chair, this is it. The rest is the same that we presented this morning, and we really appreciate the contribution you gave to us. I move we accept the changes, Pastor Chair.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Is there support for that? I see your support. Thank you very much. We have two people going to the microphone. Xolisa Lefume from the Cape Conference, South Africa-Indian Ocean Division, on Zoom.
XOLISA LEFUME: Thank you, Chair. My apologies, there was confusion between myself and the Zoom coordinator. I wanted to speak when we were still dealing with elections and regular standing and nominating committee and organizing committee. So, I need you to guide me, Chair, if I may make that comment. It is not necessarily seeking to make changes now but may be taken as an advisement that may be effected in the next Session, but I think it is pertinent that I raise it.
THOMAS L LEMON: If you can hold on that until we finish this item, and then I’ll let you bring that up, okay—so we don’t have two items going on at the same time.
XOLISA LEFUME: That would be fine.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. Microphone number 2, Niklas Rantanen.
NIKLAS RANTANEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I come to the microphone with a heavy heart. If the recommendation is passed as it is presented, thousands of young adults all over the world could be left outside our youth ministries. I spoke about the upper age limit yesterday here on the floor, and today at the committee. I'm not sure if I wasn't able to present myself clearly, or if the Church Manual Committee is not fully aware how literal the Church Manual is read and applied in local churches. We are now literally ruling out all young adults above the age of 30 that are not students. And if the committee's solution to deal with this issue is to hope that the local churches don't follow the Church Manual letter to letter, that is very confusing.
In any case, my mind is on the mission, and that mission includes all young adults that are older than 30 as well. I assume my opinion has been heard, and I will give up trying to amend the motion. Thus, I must speak against it. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. We move now to Magulilo Mwakalonge, East-Central Africa Division. This is at microphone number 3. Thank you.
MAGULILO MWAKALONGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm standing to support the motion and to try to remove some fears on the limitations of the age. We have always had some limitations, even in the current Church Manual. When we speak of up to 30 plus, it is a limitation. It's not meant to remove anybody from the youth ministries, but it is giving an age bracket for leaders to plan for. And my understanding is 30 years and above, 31 and above, they're still welcome to the youth ministries, they're still there to do some leadership roles. But there must be some age bracket for youth leaders to do planning, to know what kind of programs they should prepare, what kind of materials they should prepare. When it was left at 30 plus, plus, plus, plus, it was very difficult for leaders to know who we are preparing materials for?
So, I support this move and as one of those who are dealing with young people. I like what the Church is doing, and I want to ask the body to support the move and vote for it. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. Move on to microphone number 2 and Petronia Genebago, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, please.
PETRONIO GENEBAGO: Yes, I agree with the previous speaker, and since I think all voices have been heard, I move to call for the previous question.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. That's not debatable. Must pass by two-thirds. Okay. There was one other person in line for this, but maybe he wanted to make the same motion? Okay. We'll move on, then, and first we'll vote on the call of the question and then we'll vote on the main motion.
TODD MCFARLAND: The ballot is open. The body has two minutes.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. We have 958 “yes” votes to cease debate and 33 “no” votes. Thank you. We do have a point of order at microphone number 2, Johannes Bochmann, the Berlin-Central German Conference in the EUD.
JOHANNES BOCHMANN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm not sure if this is exactly a point of order in the exact meaning of the word. In an effort to assist the chair and the parliamentarian, may I suggest that when someone intends to call the previous question, that you give us some advice as to how many people are still willing to speak on the substance matter. I believe we just lost two minutes for basically nothing. So, I believe that could help. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. There were a couple in line before. Okay. Are you ready to vote on the main motion, then? We will display that in a moment, and we will try to give you a little more time and a little more guidance when we have a call-the-previous-question motion. Okay. This is to amend the Church Manual, chapter 8, Local Church Officers and Organizations, page 104, found in the Session agenda. That's what we've been talking about.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. The main motion is open, 421. The body has two minutes.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. We're stopping the polling, 1,004 votes have been cast, with the results here shortly.
THOMAS L LEMON: There we go, 940 votes “yes” to amend and 64 votes “no,” so the amendment is made. Now, I promised Xolisa Lefume that we'd come back to his election question, and I would ask you to be brief and then we'll move forward. Zoom number 101.
XOLISA LEFUME: Thank you for your indulgence. Chair, I wanted to speak on the link that seems to exist between regular standing and faithfulness in attending tithe and election to office. On the Church Manual, hard copy, 19th edition, if you read on page 71, the last paragraph, it says “Members in regular standing are eligible for election to leadership position in the church where they hold membership.” Triple 1 says with regards to members who should serve in the nominating committee, “Only members in regular standing should be chosen to serve on the nominating committee.” But it does not speak of offerings. When a person is elected to office, it says on page 72, “All officers shall set an example in the manner of returning a faithful tithe to the church. Anyone to fails to set such an example shall not be elected to church office.” Whereas, tithe is taken to the storehouse, all of it, and there is nothing that remains with the local church. So, if a person only returns tithe and does not give offering, they are not supporting their local church, but they are returning the tithe which goes to the storehouse which is the conference. So, I think the Church Manual should be explicit and add also giving of offerings because tithe and offerings are Siamese twins. If you only return tithe, you are still robbing God. If you only give offering, you are still robbing God. It must be both. So, I feel that should be both for eligibility to election to a church position.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. I'm going to stop you there because that was not under consideration here tonight. We were only looking at the changes that were offered as a result of the conversations we had earlier, and that was not part of it. So, thank you, Brother Lefume, but we're going to move on to point of order number 2, Stefan Giuliani. Microphone number 2, Stefan Giuliani. I can't hear you. I'm sorry.
STEFAN GIULIANI: Okay. Is it better now?
THOMAS L LEMON: Yes.
STEFAN GIULIANI: Alright, thank you. I would just ask for you to repeat the item that was tabled by the committee. I missed that one before.
THOMAS L LEMON: 408.
STEFAN GIULIANI: Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay, Brother Gerson, please, continue.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. The next item we will look over is 422. It is in your agenda, it's reference number 434-22, and this is kind of a consequence of the actions we took yesterday and a little while ago, regarding the Possibility Ministries, the Youth Ministries. So, it's just an adjustment of the membership, or those we consider officers in the local church; actually, the composition of the church board. So, Pastor Chair, I move we accept this recommendation because it's a consequence of the actions that we already took.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Is there support for that? Thank you. Any comments or questions on this one? It's a listing of the church board as adjusted by previous actions we have taken.
Microphone number 6, Flaviano Dalisay, Southeastern California Conference, North America.
FLAVIANO DALISAY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would just like to point out to be mindful, if the motion passes, on the possible inappropriateness of the presence of a very young board member when in closed session topics are discussed that would be inappropriate for a very young person to be there, especially in some parts of the world.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. I don't see anybody else either on Zoom or in line here. So we will proceed then to the vote.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. We are opening the balloting here.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. Again, don't be afraid to move around a little bit.
TODD MCFARLAND: Mr. Chairman, the ballot is open. The body has two minutes.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. We are making good progress, and I appreciate the body for that this evening.
TODD MCFARLAND: Alright, Mr. Chairman. We are closing, and the display will be here momentarily.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. We have a few more people coming back from supper. Thank you for coming back to join us. There are 1,029 “yes” votes, 16 “no” votes; so, the motion is done, and the amendment is made. We'll move on then to the next item, brother Gerson.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. Item 427. It is about Redemptive Membership Auditing. As you remember before, a recommendation was made to change to “Redemptive Membership Review” as it appears on page 14. We changed that in two places. Pastor Chair, I move to accept these changes.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. You've seen this before. Do we have support? A second for this? Thank you. I don't see anybody coming to the microphone yet, and no Zoom people have contacted us. So, we will post the motion, Brother Parliamentarian, and proceed to the vote.
TODD MCFARLAND: Thank you, Pastor. We are opening up the ballot now.
THOMAS L LEMON: The amendment carried with 1,013 “yes” votes, 11 “no” votes. We'll move on, brother Gerson, to the next item, if you would, please.
GERSON P SANTOS: Of course. Number 428. In order to be consistent with the previous action that we just took a few seconds ago, you can see on page 15 the item number 427 on line 15, we are changing the word “audit” to “review” process to be consistent with the previous action. I move, Pastor Chair.
THOMAS L LEMON: We have a motion and a second. I don't see anybody coming to the microphone and I have no one in the Zoom queue, so I'm ready to vote.
TODD MCFARLAND: Mr. Chairman, the ballot is opening now. Also, Mr. Chairman, I would just like to make clear, I know on the slide on the last one. . .
THOMAS L LEMON: Microphone number 5, we have opened the ballot so I’m not sure we can take questions at this time.
TODD MCFARLAND: The ballot is open, Mr. Chairman.
THOMAS L LEMON: Denise Isaac, Chesapeake Conference.
DENISE ISAAC: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just had a question, if we are changing the word from “auditing” to “review," should not the title of this section be changed from “auditing” to “review”?
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Our parliamentarian will address that.
DENISE ISAAC: Thank you.
TODD MCFARLAND: Ma’am, you interrupted what I was just about to say, which is even though the title said “audit” instead of “review” that’s because we were reusing the title slides. What is voted will be “review” and not “audit.” So, I apologize for the lack of changing, but that is just because we reused the slide in the ballot.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. So, we will go straight to the voting then.
THOMAS L LEMON: The amendment has passed 1,052 “yes” votes, 8 “no” votes. We will continue, then. Please
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. Item number 429. It has the same reference number, 429, about making disciples. As you remember, this is a new chapter talking about the importance of disciple making. And we reviewed several observations that were presented to contribute and increase clarity. The committee spent quite a lot of time on this. One of the changes we brought is on page 16, lines 25 to 29. There is a revision on the introductory paragraph describing the gospel commission's emphasis on making disciples.
And I need to explain this, Pastor Chair, that we received several interesting, deep thoughts, and contributions for this chapter. As you can imagine, we have a full chapter. To incorporate several good suggestions would take a long time. And the committee decided to collect that information for future revision, but we are recommending that we accept this new chapter and, of course, in the future it can be improved with some new recommendations that we received from you. But it is the desire of the committee to submit this to you again. I move, Pastor Chair, we accept the recommendation.
THOMAS L LEMON: We have the motion and support. Maybe you're getting tired. Maybe you understand clearly, and you want to move forward. The chair can't read your minds, but we can read your actions. So, we will go ahead and place the ballot.
TODD MCFARLAND: The ballot is now open, and you have two minutes.
THOMAS L LEMON: The chair appreciates your patience. Our votes are before you, 1,042 “yes” votes, 16 “no” votes. So, that motion is also adopted. Okay, brother Gerson, please.
GERSON P SANTOS: We are almost there. So, item number 431, the reference number is 408. “No Additional Tests of Fellowship.” That was the original title. We had a few observations here, and we are bringing back from the committee a recommendation to change the title of this section to “No Additional Tests of Membership.” To be consistent, “The authority to establish tests of membership rests with the General Conference Session.” I move, Pastor Chair, we accept this.
THOMAS L LEMON: You have the motion before you, and a second. I have a speaker at microphone number 7, Dr. Wahlen, General Conference.
CLINTON WAHLEN: Thank you, Brother Chairman. I support this motion. I think it's a very helpful change and makes it much clearer. So, I'm in favor of this. I'm also wondering while I'm here if I could ask whether the item that we had many suggestions for, “A Divinely Appointed Ministry,” could be handled on the same basis as the one we just voted. That is, we will take it as it is and those suggestions that were made can be incorporated in future drafts.
THOMAS L LEMON: I’m not sure I am following you, Elder Wahlen, I’m sorry.
CLINTON WAHLEN: OK, we just voted a segment on making disciples. Gerson said there wasn’t time to process all the suggestions, but that they would be processed in time in the future. Could we handle the “Divinely Appointed Ministry” statement the same way? Because a lot of work went into that and many good suggestions were made.
THOMAS L LEMON: We're not prepared to bring 408 which is the one you're talking about for a vote tonight. So, I understand, but the committee is not bringing that for a change tonight.
CLINTON WAHLEN: Thank you very much.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay. Number 2, Jaanus-Janari Kogerman.
JAANUS-JANARI KOGERMAN: I do wonder that I have downloaded the revised agenda, and it says notice of disfellowship still. I do wonder that, the text on the screen is actually correct, or the one in the agenda. If this is on the screen, then maybe we can later on receive a revised and updated agenda. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Brother Gerson will address that. Thank you very much.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thanks for the careful observation on the agenda, and the speaker has correctly identified this difference. As you remember, we had a very tight schedule to revise items, prepare the agenda, and bring it back to you. So, the recommended item we are voting is the one you see on the screen. On the agenda we used the same title, but we are revising this, and you have this on the screen. I believe there is no doubt about this now. Is it clear? Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. I don't have anyone else in the queue. So, Brother Parliamentarian, if you would go ahead and move the ballot forward for us, we will proceed to the vote.
TODD MCFARLAND: We are moving the ballot forward, and I will just advise the body that the issue that was in the one is also in the ballot. The ballot title has remained unchanged from “Fellowship,” but what you are voting is the word “Membership.” Please accept our apologies—on the tight time schedule those changes did not get made, but it is “Membership.” So, Mr. Chairman, the ballot is now open; the body has two minutes.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. And again, like we've said all along. The day is long, the evening is, as the Bible says, far spent. If you want to move around a little bit, that's perfectly okay. I see some stretching. That's good.
THOMAS L LEMON: I am looking at our Zoom display up here and seeing people from all over the world in all the time zones, and we want to recognize your faithfulness in being here meeting after meeting after meeting as well.
Okay. We will see the display of the vote—1,047 “yes,” 12 “no,” and that passes. We are getting closer to the end, and I thank you for working with us in an expeditious way. We'll move then to the next item, Brother Santos.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. The next item is item number 435, reference number 439. It's about the “Purposes of Organization.” We took into consideration some of the recommendations you gave before and the committee met, and we edited the third paragraph on page 22, lines 34 to 39. There are several minor additions to this paragraph to make it clearer and, as you remember, some of the suggestions were made on this paragraph. Also, on line 41, “The church is a missionary community and its organization exists to fulfill this purpose.” We have some editorial work done there also. Pastor Chair, I move to accept this item.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Do we have support for that? Yes, we have support. Stephan Sigg, German Swiss Conference. Microphone number 1.
STEPHAN SIGG: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I wanted to express my appreciation for this section, especially my appreciation of the first paragraph, which displays a very open and mission-oriented approach. I just wanted to highlight the fact that this attitude or this approach does not only apply to fields across cultural or fields where we face different religions, but also this applies more and more to contexts like the country that I represent, Switzerland, which is a very secular place. So, we need this same approach also in these contexts as well. So, I wanted just to express my appreciation for this approach. Thanks.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. We don't have anyone else in the queue, so, we'll go ahead and post the ballot. And when the timer comes up you can begin voting.
THOMAS L LEMON: We are ready to close the voting. Okay, 1,038 “yes,” 9 “no.” That amendment is passed. I have mic number 2, Stefan Giuliani.
STEFAN GIULIANI: I wanted to come back to the agenda item that was tabled by the committee, 408, as you explained before. I was wondering why this decision was made by the committee, since I do not remember any grave objections during our session here on the floor. Honestly, I feel it is a loss that this agenda item would not become part of the Church Manual, and I regret that decision.
THOMAS L LEMON: Do you want to address that, Gerson, please.
GERSON P SANTOS: Of course, I'd love to because I have the same feeling. I think it's too bad that we don't have time to address that item. We had a few observations in different parts of the document. It was a long document. Because there were minor revisions in other parts of that section, it became extremely complicated for us. In just a few minutes, we already ran out of time during the committee. We decided that those items should not be taken lightly. I wish we had done differently, but it was referred back to the committee, and then was recommended to be tabled. I feel the same feeling you're representing. But I believe at this point this is the best way to move forward. I'd like to suggest maybe a different approach next time, but we don't have time to discuss this right now.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you, microphone number 2, David Butcher, South Australian Conference, South Pacific Division.
DAVID BUTCHER: Thank you, thank you, Mr. Chair. Sorry, was this 408 or 417 that was raised just then?
THOMAS L LEMON: t is 408.
DAVID BUTCHER: Okay, is that the one where it talks about conference presidents and secretary, et cetera? My thoughts, Mr. Chair, are similar to what is being said. The first part about the role of the minister being evangelistic training and equipping, I fully endorse, and I think it would be a loss not to have that voted through at this time. I guess my key concern, as has been shared, and I do appreciate the way in which it was handled in the study committee, was that there's one thing in this document, in this particular article, that is not in line with the GC Working Policy, and it would be very simple to fix.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. We have a point of order, microphone number 2, Hilde Huru, North Norway Conference.
HILDE HURU: Mr. Chair, I'm not certain this is a point of order, but it didn't fit under the other categories. It's a request or a question because for many of us, this is our first General Conference Session. It's a request that next time there is a Session, we will receive the Rules of Order together with the agenda. Because, for many of us, we never had a chance to read it. We got it in our bags when we came late Sunday evening, and we started the process of our meetings and it's all been so compact the whole time. So, we never had a chance to do that. That would make it so much easier for us to do things in the correct way from the floor. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. The point is well taken. We have two more items to bring to you and we return to Elder Santos for those.
GERSON P SANTOS: Thank you, Pastor Chair. Yes. We are almost there. We have finished with items that were referred back to the committee. So, we are done with this agenda. This is good news, right? But we still have two items left from the general agenda. I'd like to go back to those items. It's item 436. This is the first one we want to deal with. You'll see on the screen, reference number 402, about the proper method for payment or money by members. Item 436, the second to the last on the general agenda. I want to highlight for you that on page 109, the rationale of this recommendation in this amendment includes the use of electronic payments as a proper method of returning tithes and offerings.
As you can imagine, most of the world is already doing that. In lines 16 and 17, we want to add those possibilities. “The treasurer should urge that all money paid in by members, other than the regular church collection, be placed in tithe and offering envelopes, unless an alternative method approved by the conference, such as electronic payments, has been implemented.”
I move, Pastor Chair.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Do we have support for that? I see several seconds. Any questions, comments, observations? I see no one moving towards the microphone, no one on Zoom, so Brother Parliamentarian we will move—Okay, it just came up. Mic number two, Petronia Genebago, South Asia-Pacific Division.
PETRONIO GENEBAGO: Mr. Chair, just a suggestion. I hope the Church can also find a way on giving receipts electronically or effectively, because I have experience that it sometimes takes time to receive the receipt from funds the church has already accepted or received in tithes and offerings that we have given them.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. Okay. If you're ready to vote, we're ready to post the ballot.
TODD MCFARLAND: Mr. Chairman, we are opening the ballot now. There are two minutes to vote.
THOMAS L LEMON: I’m tempted to do some talking while you are voting, but maybe I will just refrain from that and let you do some thinking on your own. The messages you have heard today, the conversations you have had today, can be a blessing to you going forward for many weeks to come. These kinds of Sessions can be so inspiring. Sometimes the business takes a little longer than we sometimes think it should, sometimes it takes not as long as we think it should, but we are here to further the work of the Lord, to worship and praise Him, and that is a memory that you can take with you for a long time to come.
THOMAS L LEMON: Okay, 1,017 “yes,” 8 “no.” The amendment is passed. Brother Gerson, we have one more.
GERSON P SANTOS: Yes, we do. We made it. Last item, number 437. The reference number is 418. I don't know how many of you have seen it, but in the first chapter in the Church Manual, you have some very important information about the history, about the need, the purpose of the Church Manual. There are some very important definitions of terms used here.
One of them is the use of “church.” When you see “Church” with a capital letter, it means that we are referring to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When you see conference, mission, section, for these we use just the word “conference.” And this item uses the same rationale and uses the reference for a local church that could also apply for a company. Instead of describing if this is a company or this is a church, when you have the item on page 110, lines 19 and 20, “References to a local church will also generally apply to a company.”
So, for clarity and for editorial purposes it will be much easier for us to have this throughout the Church Manual, and I move that we accept the recommendation from the Church Manual Committee.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you for your motion. I heard a second. Any questions on this? Mic number 7, please, Chung-Taik Park, Korean Union Conference.
CHUNG-TAIK PARK: Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Even one term is important. My suggestion may or may not be related to this motion, but I would like to make one suggestion to the Church Manual Committee. The purpose of the church organization is always the same. Therefore, please study not only the traditional church or physical church but also online church. Please study the possibility of inclusion in the Church Manual. If possible, please try to include it. Reference to a local church will then also generally apply to a company and online churches, something like that. One of the important concerns in my country indeed is about online church, because the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot. We want to go to the data world, “I will go” and “We will go.” In my opinion, there are three types of churches, online church, and second is a hybrid church, like this Session. Lastly, is an online church. It is a church that has been planted as an online church in the data world, only for the missions. I would like to suggest to the Church Manual Committee to research and study about the online church. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. That is not really germane to this particular motion, but your suggestions are well made and well taken. Thank you very, very much. Number 6, Flaviano Dalisay, Southeastern California Conference, North America.
FLAVIANO DALISAY: Thank you, sir. I would just like to get clarification in line 19, where it says, “References to a local church will also generally apply to a company.” What would that mean in instances where, for example, a company cannot elect and ordain elders and deacons?
THOMAS L LEMON: If I might answer that, and Gerson, please feel free to correct me. I think that comes under the definition, or under the umbrella, of the word “generally.” There is some flexibility in there, and I think that would cover your concern. But, Gerson, if you want to add commentary, please.
GERSON P SANTOS: I understand it the same way, Pastor Chair. I think that the speaker presented a very good example of why we have the word “generally,” because in most cases it could be considered the same, but there are some exceptions, and you presented one of them. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Number two, Petronia Genebago, please.
PETRONIO GENEBAGO: Mr. Chair, since this is the last item, just give me this privilege to say something. On behalf of those who are grateful this week, I would like to appreciate all our chairmen and chairwomen who chaired the business meetings, especially our parliamentarian who has not been replaced but calmly and lovingly guided us all in this meeting. May God bless you more. You did a great job for God and for our beloved Church. [Applause.]
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. I was going to say some similar things. I appreciate working with Gerson very much, with Todd, with Tami, and with Karen next to me, and with our people down in the front that have helped us all along. Thanks to all of you, and to those on the array of screens here. To all of you as well, too. The Church of God is on the move, and it is moving forward, and Jesus is coming. Get involved. I've asked Pavel Goya to come to the front and offer our closing prayer tonight. Before he does that, I would like Karen to make her announcement. There is one announcement that we've been asked to make.
KAREN J PORTER: Yes. We have one announcement, and that is, Sabbath evening you will receive a link to a survey, and we really appreciate your input. So, please, look for this survey coming to you by e-mail. Your opinion on this hybrid Session is urgently important to us, as we plan for our next Session. Please take some time to complete and submit the survey. It will be in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. Thank you.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you. I am told by my people here at the table that while I was thanking them, I was not doing my job. So, we need to vote the last item, so we will put that up on the screen. Number 2, that was the point of order? Thank you so much. Okay. We'll go ahead and vote that and then we'll take the last two comments after we vote this.
TODD MCFARLAND: Mr. Chairman, the item is open now and the body has two minutes. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank everyone as we take our last vote here for using ElectionBuddy so well. Just to be clear, this is your last ElectionBuddy vote. We will not be using it tomorrow, of course. So, thank you everyone for your patience with us in using this system that we think worked out pretty well.
THOMAS L LEMON: Thank you very much. We will display the vote as soon as it comes up—1,052 “yes,” 6 “no,” so the amendment passes, and, my friends, tonight we are finished. [Applause] We need a motion to adjourn, “sine die.” If you would have that motion, please. It's not debatable. It will close our meeting until it's called to order again back here in St Louis in 2025. It's been moved. Okay. Let's stand together. Elder Goya, please. Let’s stand together.
[Prayer by Pavel Goya.]
[End of the business sessions of the 61st General Conference Session]
RATIONALE: This amendment clarifies some of the organizational aspects of the church business meeting.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 10, Services and Other Meetings, page 128, Business Meetings, to read as follows:
The local church operates within defined roles in Seventh-day Adventist Church structure. Within the context of those roles, the business meeting is the constituency meeting of the local church. (See p. 27) Members in regular standing are encouraged to attend and are entitled to vote. A member under censure has no right to participate by voice or vote.
Business meetings shall be held at least once a year. The pastor, or the board in consultation with and support of the pastor, calls the meeting. Business meetings should be
typically areannounced a week or two in advance at the regular Sabbath worship service, with detail as to time and place. The pastor, an elder arrangedchosen by the pastor, or, in some cases, the conference president, or his designee, serves as chairperson of the business meeting.
Each church decides what the quorum will be for future meetings.
Votes by proxy or letter are not permitted.
Major items should be decided at a regular or specially called business meeting.
The business meeting has authority over the board and may delegate responsibilities to the board in addition to those already assigned by the Church Manual. (See pp. 129-132.)
The business meeting agenda should include reports about the work of the church. At least once a year the agenda should include reports covering church activities. Based on those reports, a proposed plan of action for the next year, including an annual budget, should be presented for approval. When possible, reports and plans for the next year should be presented in writing. (See Notes, #7, pp. 183, 184.)
In order to maintain a spirit of cooperation between the church and conference, the church shall secure counsel from conference officers on all major matters.
Conference and union officers (president, secretary, treasurer) or their designee may attend without vote (unless granted by the church) any business meeting of any church in their territory. An action to allow voting is not required if the officer is currently a member of that congregation.
RATIONALE: This amendment provides for a standing nominating committee.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 9, Elections, pages 110-113, Nominating Committee and the Election Process, to read as follows:
Nominating Committee and the Election Process
Officers are elected every one or two years (see p. 72) through an appointed nominating committee. In exceptional circumstances, and in consultation with the conference, the term of office may be extended an additional year. This committee brings its report to the church, which then votes on the names presented. This procedure enables the church to give careful study to each name prior to election and avoids the competitive element that may arise when nominations are made from the floor.
The nominating committee shall study the needs of the church and inquire into the fitness of members to serve in the different offices. This is another reason officers shall not be nominated from the floor or by general ballot.
The church may decide based on its needs that it would be best served with a standing nominating committee. As such, it may appoint such a committee which would function year-round to make nominations for vacancies or to fill regular positions identified in the Church Manual.
The size of the nominating committee will range from five members in a small church to a larger number in a large church. The number to be chosen is left to the discretion of each church and should be studied by the board. A suitable recommendation then will be brought to the church, using a minimum of time in the Sabbath worship hour.
Quorum—The quorum for the nominating committee may be determined by the church at the same time the committee is elected. (See pp. 128, 131.)
When and How the Nominating Committee Is Appointed—The nominating committee should be appointed early in the closing quarter of the
church yearelection term and should report at least three weeks before the final Sabbath of the election term, except in the case of a standing nominating committee, which functions year-round. church year.
The pastor or district leader or, in the absence of the pastor or district leader, the elder should bring the matter to the attention of the church. The church shall then appoint an organizing committee responsible to nominate the nominating committee. This organizing committee may be chosen in one of two ways:
1. By nominations, verbal or written, from the floor. If verbal nominations are made, no member may nominate more than one person. The effort of one individual or a small group to dictate to the entire membership is disapproved. Every effort should be made to ensure fair representation in the composition of the organizing committee. Everything of a political nature should be avoided. The pastor or district leader shall serve as chairperson of this organizing committee. If a pastor or district leader has not yet been appointed to serve as church leader, the chairperson of this organizing committee shall be appointed by the board from among the members of the organizing committee. The size of the organizing committee should be five to seven more than the number of board members.
2. By the church authorizing the board, together with five to seven additional persons chosen by the church (see preceding paragraph), to function as the organizing committee. If this method is adopted, the chairperson of the board normally serves as chairperson of the organizing committee (see p. 32).
In the case of a standing nominating committee, the board may fill any vacancies in their membership, or the organizing committee may choose to nominate a new list of members for the nominating committee for election by the church in business session.
How the Process Works—The steps of the nominating process are:
1. The church appoints by vote an organizing committee by one of the two methods listed above.
2. The organizing committee recommends names to the church for the nominating committee, with a recommendation for secretary. Every effort should be made to ensure fair representation in the composition of the nominating committee representing a range of age groups and both genders and limiting representation to no more than two members from the same immediate family.
3. By vote, the church appoints the nominating committee and the secretary.
4. The pastor or district leader is an ex officio member and serves as chairperson of the nominating committee. Should the pastor or district leader choose not to serve as chairperson, or if a pastor or district leader has not been appointed to the church, the organizing committee shall recommend the name from the proposed nominating committee to serve as chairperson.
5. The nominating committee meets to prepare the list of officers that it will present to the church for approval.
6. By vote, the church appoints its officers for the ensuing year(s) who continue to serve until their resignation, replacement, or the beginning of the new election term.
Who Should Be Members of the Nominating Committee—Only members - No change
Work of the Nominating Committee—The chairperson should call - No change
Nominating Committee to Get Consent of Prospective Officers—Having - No change
Members May Appear Before the Nominating Committee—Members - No change
Nominating Committee Discussions Are Confidential—All inquiries - No change
Reporting to the Church—The nominating committee’s report is presented - No change
Objections to the Report of the Nominating Committee—Members may - No change
Filling Vacancies Between Elections—If an office of the church becomes vacant during the term of office because of death, removal, resignation, or any other reason, and there is no standing nominating committee to fill the nominations, the board may nominate
the board nominatesa successor to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of office and submits the nomination to the church for election.
RATIONALE: This amendment allows for three-year terms of office in exceptional circumstances, if approved by the conference.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 8, Local Church Officers and Organizations, page 72, Term of Office, to read as follows:
Term of Office
The term of office for officers of both the church and its auxiliary organizations shall be one year, except where the church in a business meeting votes to have elections every two years in order to facilitate continuity and development of spiritual gifts and eliminate the work involved in having yearly elections. In exceptional circumstances, and in consultation with the conference, the term of office may be extended an additional year.
While it is not advisable for one person to serve indefinitely in a particular position, officers may be reelected.
VOTED, To call for the vote on the item, Youth Ministries - Church Manual Amendment.
RATIONALE: This amendment is coming as a recommendation from General Conference Youth Ministries in consultation with the divisions
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 8, Local Church Officers and Organizations, pages 104-109, to read as follows:
Adventist Youth Ministries
The various youth organizations of the church should work closely with the youth ministries department of the conference. The church works for and with its youth through Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM).
the AYM.Under the AYM, youth are to work together, in cooperation with the wider church community, towards the development of a strong youth ministry that includes spiritual, mental, and physical development of each individual, Christian social interaction, and an active witnessing program that supports the general soul-winning plans of the church. In the quest for discipleship, the goal of AYM should be to bring all youth to a saving relationship with Christ, build them up in His Word to reflect a Christ-like character, train them how to serve the church and communities using their spiritual gifts, and send them out to reach the communities in the power of the Holy Spirit. Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM)—The church works for and with its youth through the AYM. Under the AYM, youth are to work together, in cooperation with the wider church community, towards the development of a strong youth ministry that includes spiritual, mental, and physical development of each individual, Christian social interaction, and an active witnessing program that supports the general soul-winning plans of the church. The goal of AYM should be to involve all youth in activities that will lead them to active church membership and train them for Christian service.
AYM Mission—To lead young people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and help them embrace His call to discipleship.
AYM Motto—The love of Christ compels us.
AYM Aim—The Advent Message to all the world in my generation.
The youth ministries program of the church comprises three broad categories, namely: Junior Youth (Adventurers:
ages 6-9ages 4-9 and Pathfinders: ages 10-15), Senior Youth (Ambassadors: ages 16-21 and Young Adults: ages 22-30+),ages 22-30), and Public Campus Students: ages 16-30+.
God said to Moses, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9).
The apostle Paul added, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
“We have an army of youth today who can do much if they are properly directed and encouraged. . . . We want them to be blessed of God. We want them to act a part in well-organized plans for helping other youth.”— GCB, Jan. 29, 30, 1893, p. 24.
“When the youth give their hearts to God, our responsibility for them does not cease. They must be interested in the Lord’s work, and led to see that He expects them to do something to advance His cause. It is not enough to show how much needs to be done, and to urge the youth to act a part. They must be taught how to labor for the Master. They must be trained, disciplined, drilled, in the best methods of winning souls to Christ. Teach them to try in a quiet, unpretending way to help their young companions. Let different branches of missionary effort be systematically laid out, in which they may take part, and let them be given instruction and help. Thus they will learn to work for God.”—GW 210.
“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world!”—MYP 196.
While there is to be an active Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) in every church, it is important that the youth program not be isolated from the rest of the church. In addition to their AYM participation, youth should be integrated into responsible leadership and in all lines of church work. As young elders, deacons, and deaconesses, for example, they can work with and learn from experienced officers.
“In order that the work may go forward in all its branches, God calls for youthful vigor, zeal, and courage. He has chosen the youth to aid in the advancement of His cause. To plan with clear mind and execute with courageous hand demands fresh, uncrippled energies. Young men and women are invited to give God the strength of their youth, that through the exercise of their powers, through keen thought and vigorous action, they may bring glory to Him and salvation to their fellow men.”—GW 67.
Adventist Youth Ministries Committee—The Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) Committee is the umbrella organization in the church for the general planning of the youth ministry program. (See pp. 133, 134.) The AYM Committee includes the following church-elected officers: Young Adults leader, Public Campus Ministries leader/coordinator, Ambassador leader, Pathfinder director, Adventurer director, plus the personal ministries leader, youth Sabbath School division leader, children’s ministries leader, health ministries leader, principal of the school, the AYM advisor,
sponsor,and the pastor. The Young Adults leader, Ambassador leader, Pathfinder director, Adventurer director, and Public Campus Ministries leader are members of the church board.
If there are no distinct Ambassador ministry or young adults ministries established in the church, or until such time as they are established, the AYM Committee will plan for the senior youth ministry to include both age groups.
In parts of the world where there is no Pathfinder or Adventurer ministry, or until such time as they are organized, the AYM Committee will plan for appropriate activities for the junior youth.
The AYM leader (formerly known as the AYS director), who is a member of the board, chairs this committee.The Young Adults leader may chair the AYM Committee. The committee should meet as necessary to develop short- and long-range goals and plans for a successful ministry. (See Notes, #18, pp. 177, 178.)
Young Adults Ministries Committee—The Young Adults Ministries - No change
Public Campus Ministries—Strengthening the Youth Ministries - No change
Public Campus Ministries Leader/Coordinator—The church may - No change
Ambassador Ministry—The Ambassador Ministry provides - No change
Ambassador Committee—The Ambassador Committee is responsible - No change
Pathfinder Club—The Pathfinder Club provides a church-centered - No change
Pathfinder Committee—The Pathfinder Club director and deputy directors are elected by the church. (See pp. 105, 179.) If two deputy directors are elected, there should be one male and one female. One of the deputy directors may also serve as club secretary and treasurer.
The director is a member of the board and the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) Committee.
Additional Pathfinder staff may include instructors of craft and nature classes and counselors who are each responsible for a unit of six to eight Pathfinders.
Resource materials are available from the conference youth ministries director.
Everyone involved in work with minor children must meet Church and legal standards and requirements, such as background checks or certification. Local church leaders should consult with the conference, which will ascertain and advise as to what background checks and certifications are available and/or required. (See Notes, #7, pp. 168, 169.)
Adventurer Club—The Adventurer Club provides home and church programs for parents with
6-to-9-year-old4- to 9-year-old children. It is designed to stimulate the children’s curiosity and includes age-specific activities that involve both parents and child in recreational activities, simple crafts, appreciation of God’s creation, and other activities that are of interest to that age. All is carried out with a spiritual focus, setting the stage for participation in the church as a Pathfinder.
Adventurer Committee—The church elects the club director and associates. (See pp. 104, 178.) Additional staff members are selected by the administrative staff of the club.
The director is a member of the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) Committee.
Resource materials are available from the conference youth ministries director.
Everyone involved in work with minor children must meet Church and legal standards and requirements, such as background checks or certification. Local church leaders should consult with the conference, which will ascertain and advise as to what background checks and certifications are available and/or required. (See Notes, #8, pp. 174, 175.)
AYM Officers—The leaders/directors of the
fourfive youth ministry entities must exemplify Christlike graces and have a burden for soul winning and contagious enthusiasm. The five leaders/directors are members of the church board. In helping motivate youth to work together and take responsibilities, the leaders/directors will be in the background— guiding, counseling, and encouraging youth, helping them gain experience and the joys of achievement. The leaders/directors should study the youth profile of the church and seek to involve every eligible youth in the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM).
The leaders/directors will keep in touch with the pastor,
their respective sponsors,advisor, and the conference youth ministries director, taking advantage of opportunities for in-service training and leading their respective ministry into a cooperative relationship with the church and the conference.
The associate leaders/deputy directors (if needed) will assist the leaders/directors and perform leadership duties when the leaders/directors are absent. The respective committees may assign additional responsibilities to the associate leaders/directors.
The secretary-treasurers will keep a record of the activities of their respective ministries, submit monthly reports on forms provided to the conference youth ministries director, and encourage youth to report their witnessing activities during the ten-minute personal ministries period.
The respective assistant secretary-treasurers (if needed) assist with the secretary- treasurers’ work as assigned.
AYM Advisor—The Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) advisor
Sponsor—The Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) sponsormay be an elder or other person on the board who understands the objectives of the AYM, is sympathetic with youth and their involvement in the church’s ministries, and will serve as a valued counselor to the youth. The sponsoradvisor serves as a guide or counselor to AYM officers and joins them regularly in AYM Committee meetings. The sponsor will work with the AYM leader to present the ministry’s needs to the board.
sponsorministry leader should become acquainted with the conference youth ministries director and keep the director informed of changes in officer personnel and other AYM matters. Along with AYM leaders, the sponsoradvisor should attend conference youth training institutes to keep informed about developments in youth ministry.
For the sake of continuity, the
sponsor,advisor, if possible, should serve multiple terms.
Everyone involved in work with minor children must meet Church and legal standards and requirements, such as background checks or certification. Local church leaders should consult with the conference, which will ascertain and advise as to what background checks and certifications are available and/or required. (See Notes, #7, pp. 168, 169.)
Resources—For youth ministries resources, see Notes, #17, p. 171.
RATIONALE: This proposed amendment updates the membership list of the church board in accordance with other Church Manual additions and amendments being brought to the 2022 General Conference Session.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 10, Services and Other Meetings, pages 130 and 131, Membership (Church Board and Its Meetings), to read as follows:
Membership—The board is elected by the members at the time of the regular election officers. (See pp. 71, 72.) In addition to conference appointed pastors, the church should elect a representative board that includes the following officers:
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.
RATIONALE: This new section on redemptive membership review is being added as a recommendation of the Nurture and Retention Committee.
VOTED, To add a new section, Redemptive Membership Review, to the Church Manual, Chapter 6, Membership, following Membership Record, on page 55, to read as follows:
Redemptive Membership Review—Membership records are kept up to date by the local church. They are subject to review by the next higher organization. This rule, which also applies to every entity or level of the organization, provides the maximum privacy of members’ personal information and shall comply with legal requirements. (See p. 82.)
In the Bible we find the words, “[N]ot forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25). There is great need to seek for those who are far away. Ellen G. White says, “If the lost sheep is not brought back to the fold, it wanders until it perishes. And many souls go down to ruin for want of a hand stretched out to save” (COL 191). It is a most needed ministry to review the membership records and to approach this exercise in a Christ-like redemptive way.
RATIONALE: This amendment provides for the auditing of church membership records.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 8, Local Church Officers and Organizations, page 82, Church Records, to read as follows:
Church Records—The clerk keeps church records, which should be carefully preserved. All records and account books of all officers are the property of the church and are to be surrendered to the newly elected clerk at the expiration of the term of office of the previous clerk, or to the church at any time during the term on request of the pastor or elders. Church records, within the privacy limitations of local law, are subject to review by the next higher organization. (See p. 55.)
RATIONALE: This is a new chapter on the importance of discipleship.
VOTED, To add a new chapter to the Church Manual, Chapter 6, Making Disciples, following Chapter 5, Organizing, Uniting, and Dissolving Churches and Companies, on page 43, to read as follows:
Making disciples is a continuous process by which a person becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ, matures as His disciple, and makes more disciples. Baptism is an essential part of the discipleship process, but it is not the end result of that process.
Seventh-day Adventists accept with honor and humility the command of Jesus contained in the Gospel Commission to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). We are to obey this Commission, as we live in these last days, within the context of the Three Angels’ Messages (Rev. 14:6-12).
The Gospel Commission’s main emphasis to “make disciples” contains three parts:
1. “Go therefore and make disciples” is Jesus’ command to fulfill the mission. Thus, making disciples should be our way of life. We are to go and make disciples in our homes, our work, our schools, and in our everyday interactions with others. We are to make disciples of every nation, tribe, language, and people. The goal of witnessing and evangelism is disciple-making (Matt. 10:25, Matt. 28:19, 20).
2. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” is not the end goal but an important part in the process of discipleship as people acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, become part of His church, and commit to making more disciples. Disciples are baptized into Christ’s body, the church. Their commitment to obey Christ in making disciples should be demonstrated before baptism.
3. “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,” indicates that teaching is a vital and ongoing experience of maturing in the experience of discipleship. “Teaching” should take place before and after baptism.
Making disciples is a continuous process with its purpose being grown “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) into Christian maturity and multiplication of disciples.
Growing as a disciple and making disciples to prepare them for the second coming of Jesus, is not optional; it is the essence of our last-day commission as Seventh-day Adventists. Genuine discipleship only happens as a result of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. We can take comfort that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and He promises to be with us to the end of the world (Matt. 28:18, 20). Further, He promises us the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, Guide, and Power (John 16:7-16; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:37-39).
What is a Disciple?
In Jesus’ time, disciples were followers whose instruction was wholistic and comprehensive. The disciples of Jesus spent so much time with Him that they received His teachings and learned valuable lifestyle lessons. A disciple is one whose choices, decisions, and worldview are being transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
Christian disciples pattern their faith, character, and mission after the faith, character, and mission of their Teacher, Jesus. A disciple is one who has made a commitment to follow Christ and bring their life under the Lordship of Christ.
A disciple is a person who is becoming more like Jesus Christ in every way (Eph. 4:15). The process of disciple-making is a continuous process. It also entails teaching new believers how to bring their lives into conformity with the Word of God through various programs such as mentoring, small group ministries, Bible studies, service, etc.
1. Thus, discipleship impacts every area of our lives: our beliefs, character, lifestyle, relationships, work, entertainment, finances, health, witness, and our burden to see others in God’s kingdom.
2. “Is becoming” indicates that discipleship is an ongoing activity of following Jesus.
3. “More like Jesus Christ” means that Christ is our Savior and Lord and the only perfect example for us to follow.
Growth of a Disciple
The discipleship journey starts when one takes the first steps toward Jesus (see John 1:35-2:2). Abiding in Him daily and following His Word, one can continue to grow in Christlikeness. Some of the key areas in which Scripture indicates disciples must mature in personal development, as well as part of a community of believers, are listed below:
1. Worship/Personal Devotion: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37 ESV). Worship is our response to God’s initiating work in our lives. True worship is not focused on us but on God (Ps. 150:6; John 4:23; Rev. 14:7).
“We need to cherish and cultivate a spirit of true worship, a spirit of devotion upon the Lord’s holy, sanctified day. We should assemble together believing that we shall receive comfort and hope, light and peace from Jesus Christ.”—FLB 35.
“Personal religion will reveal itself in bearing good fruit, sanctification is not the work of a day, but a lifetime. . . .There should be in the heart of everyone grace which can bloom in the garden of God. Selfishness will cut out every precious likeness of Christ, will expel humility and self-denial and devotion.” —PM 91.
2. Ministry to Others: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39 ESV). Every disciple is called and gifted by God for the benefit of the church and to take the gospel message to the world (1 Peter 2:9; 4:10).
“[The disciples’] office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, second only to that of Christ Himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of men.”—AA 19.
3. Witnessing/Need-Based Evangelism: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . .” (Matt. 28:19 ESV). Witness and evangelism happen best when following Christ’s method of ministry to the whole person.
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”—MH 143.
4. Obedience: “. . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20 ESV). A primary indication of true discipleship is faithfulness to Christ and His Word and submission to Him as our Lord. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 ESV).
“Obedience—the service and allegiance of love—is the true sign of discipleship. Thus, the Scripture says, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments’”—SC 60.
A faithful disciple is one who recognizes the Shepherd’s voice and continually seeks
to learn in order to obey more completely. Reflecting Christ’s character and laboring for the enlargement of His kingdom is to be our overriding passion. This includes growth in character, stewardship and service (Eph. 4:13-15; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18; 1 John 3:2).
5. Community/Outreach: “. . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19 ESV). True discipleship only happens within a community that is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word, where worship, ministry, evangelism, and obedience are given the highest priority (Rev. 14:6-12).
“Let small companies assemble in the evening, at noon, or in the early morning to study the Bible. Let them have a season of prayer, that they may be strengthened, enlightened, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This work Christ wants to have done in the heart of every worker. If you yourselves will open the door to receive it, a great blessing will come to you. Angels of God will be in your assembly. You will feed upon the leaves of the tree of life. What testimonies you may bear of the loving acquaintance made with your fellow workers in these precious seasons when seeking the blessing of God.”—7T 195.
The grace of Jesus Christ is not cheap. It cost Him His life. Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior needs to know that being His disciple also comes at a cost. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34, NIV).
Disciples grow Christlike in character amid the routines of day-to-day life. Through the intentional practices of daily Bible study, prayer, service, and mission, we grow ever deeper in our discipleship commitment. A fully committed disciple continually “walks” with Christ, being with Him, modeling one’s life after Him, and obeying Him in one’s ordinary daily activities.
The work of making disciples is ongoing. “The Saviour’s commission to the disciples included all the believers. It includes all believers in Christ to the end of time.”—DA 822. Therefore, patterning one’s life after Jesus’ example is a personal responsibility as well as a teaching responsibility that every church member owes to those who are young in the faith. Church membership and even church activity by themselves are insufficient. Ongoing personal growth as a disciple is necessary to have an impactful and lasting relationship with God.
Love, The Defining Mark of a Disciple
Loving others as God loves us, which is intimately connected to unity, is the ultimate indication of true discipleship. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35, ESV).
“Christ has given us a pattern in his own example. He would bind his followers to one another and to himself. Their oneness with Christ makes them love one another, for love is the sure fruit of unity with Christ. Christ declared that their love for one another was a sure badge of their discipleship”—Ms 51, 1894.
True love for Jesus means more than His disciples loving each other; they must share God’s love with others. If we love God, we will obey his command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. . . . ” (Matt. 28:19).
God’s love is the defining mark of a disciple because in love all other characteristics of discipleship are complete. Christ “mentioned only one condition of discipleship and service. ‘Lovest thou Me?’ He said. This is the essential qualification”—DA 815. “The love of Christ is not a fitful feeling, but a living principle, which is to be made manifest as an abiding power in the heart. . .”—RC 345.
RATIONALE: This amendment expresses the importance of finding new ways to reach the varied and diverse cultures of the world with the Seventh-day Adventist message, including the forming of new mission groups.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 3, Organization and Authority, pages 25 and 26, Purposes of Organization, to read as follows:
Missionary Purposes of Organization
Our mission remains unchanged wherever we find ourselves in the world. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been organized for the purpose of mission. However, the way in which we fulfill that mission will of necessity take a variety of forms due to different cultural and societal norms. As we seek to share the gospel in cross-cultural contexts, we will encounter societies where particular religious bodies deem other writings as sacred, where restrictions to religious freedom sometimes exist, where diverse points of view and practices occur, as well as other challenges. To fulfill the mission in such diverse contexts, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and employ a flexible approach to sharing God’s love in a manner that reaches hearts, while preserving our unique calling and identity as Seventh-day Adventists.
The conditions Seventh-day Adventists face in sharing the message of Jesus to people of other religions largely parallel those that the apostles encountered. How they went about the mission is instructive for us today. Although they modified their approach in keeping with the audience, they never deviated from proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus as the hope of the world. They never suggested that they had come to help their hearers find a deeper spiritual experience within their own religions; on the contrary, they challenged them to turn to the salvation provided in Christ.
Groups should be formed to lead all people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and into fellowship with the remnant church. In forming such groups, a theologically sound, culturally informed plan of action should be prayerfully developed and followed to guide these new believers into membership. These groups should be established and nurtured in collaboration with local administration and guidelines of the world Church. Leaders of these groups should seek to lead the people into membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The church is a missionary community and its organization exists to fulfill this purpose.
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.”—TM 26.
“As members of the visible church, and workers in the vineyard of the Lord, all professed Christians should do their utmost to preserve peace, harmony, and love in the church. Mark the prayer of Christ: ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ The unity of the church is the convincing evidence that God has sent Jesus into the world as its Redeemer.”—5T 619, 620.
RATIONALE: This amendment includes the use of electronic payments as a proper method of returning tithes and offerings.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 8, Local Church Officers and Organizations, pages 84 and 85, Proper Method for Payment of Money by Members, to read as follows:
Proper Method for Payment of Money by Members—The treasurer should urge that all money paid in by members, other than the regular church collection, be placed in tithe and offering envelopes, unless an alternative method approved by the conference, such as electronic payments, has been implemented.
method has been implemented by the conference. Members should list the various items and amounts on the envelope as indicated and to make sure that the money enclosed equals the total shown. They should also sign their names and give their addresses, and place the envelopes in the offering plate or hand them to the treasurer, who should preserve the envelopes to serve as vouchers until all accounts are checked by the conference auditor.
Members who return their tithes and offerings by check or postal notes should, where legally possible, make such checks or notes payable to the church, rather than to any individual.
RATIONALE: This amendment allows for the counsels and principles addressed in the Church Manual to be followed by a company, in the same manner as in the local church, without the need to repeat “company” throughout the Manual.
VOTED, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 1, Why a Church Manual?, pages 18 and 19, Terms Used in the Church Manual, to read as follows:
Terms Used in the Church Manual
Church—For editorial and printing economy, “Church,” with a capital C, in these pages is used in place of the full term “Seventh-day Adventist Church” and refers to the overall Church organization rather than to a local church or congregation, with the exception of when it is referred to within a quotation. References to a local church will also generally apply to a company.
Conference, mission, section, delegation, field, union of churches—For purposes of editorial and printing economy, “conference” in these pages means “conference, mission, field, section, delegation, or union of churches,” as the administrative context indicates. Generally, each congregation is a member of the sisterhood of churches known as a conference, but until the local organization achieves conference status, under General Conference Working Policy it may be identified as a mission, section, delegation, or field. In some world divisions, unions of churches in a particular country function as a conference for local-church purposes and as a union for other Church organizational purposes. (See Chapter 3, “Organization and Authority.”)
Pastor and minister—Most areas of the world Church use “pastor” to identify a member of the clergy, so that term is used in these pages rather than “minister,” regardless of the responsibilities assigned by the local conference. Use of the term here is not intended to mandate that usage where the custom is to use “minister.” Pastors referred to in this manual are those who have been appointed by the conference to oversee the affairs of the local church or district.
Abbreviations of Ellen G. White’s books are identified on p. 186.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated, with the exception of when referred to within a Spirit of Prophecy quotation.
VOTED, To adjourn sine die.