In 2015, more than 65,000 Seventh-day Adventists gathered for the 60th General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, United States. That number was in stark contrast to the empty seats and quiet halls of the 61st General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri, in June 2022.
The twice-postponed GC Session-turned-hybrid-event in 2022 was a shadow of what it had been in the past. Throughout the week of business meetings, worship services, and special presentations, many delegate seats sat empty, conference rooms were quiet, and exhibition halls went unused.
Executive Committee Meets
The General Conference Executive Committee met on August 9, 2022 to determine the direction of the 62nd General Conference Session, set to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2025. The Executive Committee adopted a four-part plan that will see the General Conference Session continue as a 10-day event.
The motion, voted and accepted during the Executive Committee, reads as follows.
Due to the General Conference Executive Committee action taken on March 19, 2020, (GCC 20-7) the General Conference administration, in consultation with division and attached field officers, reviewed the configuration of the postponed 2020 General Conference Session when it convened in 2022, and is making the following recommendations regarding the 2025 General Conference Session.
To adopt the following plans for the 2025 General Conference Session:
1. That the initial dates of July 3-12, 2025, be kept for the 2025 General Conference Session to take place in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
2. That the 2025 General Conference Session be held as an on-site event. A hybrid event will only be considered if there are world conditions such as a global public health issue that would preclude an on-site event.
3. That a limited number of special guests be invited to the 2025 General Conference Session.
4. That both the exhibits/booths and ancillary meetings be reintroduced to the 2025 General Conference Session.
Hensley Moorooven, General Conference undersecretary, explained that the four items pertaining to the 2025 General Conference Session “were based on information gleaned from several debriefing sessions and backed by data collected from the survey administered to the General Conference Session delegates who served in 2022.
“We want our delegates to know that they were heard,” Moorooven added.
According to the survey, to which 58 percent of delegates responded, the most significant factor that prevented their attendance at business sessions was the overcrowded schedule during GC Session 2022. As the business sessions are a necessary component of GC Session, this had to be addressed in the planning process.
The second major factor preventing attendance at business sessions was the experience of jetlag many of the international delegates experienced. Returning to the 10-day session event allows them time to adjust to local time zones and a more reasonable schedule. These changes will enable the delegates to better focus on the business sessions while also enjoying the event’s social, spiritual, and service aspects.
Impact on Delegates and Members
Moving forward with an in-person event allows the exhibit hall to be brought back for delegates, their families, and visitors to enjoy. Exhibit hall visitors will enjoy learning more about their favorite ministries and organizations while discovering new resources and information from around the world.
With the exhibit hall and ancillary meetings reintroduced, attendees will have the added benefit of the camp meeting-like experience of Sessions past. Moorooven commented, “GC Session is a place to conduct the church’s business, and it is also a huge camp meeting. The ancillary meetings give us this exquisite balance between the business meetings and the camp meeting experience.”
These ancillary meetings include training sessions, musical performances, and special programs hosted by ministries providing specific programming to spouses, children, families, and more. Combined with the prayer room and worship programs, these ancillary meetings add a necessary spiritual aspect to the otherwise business-focused gathering.
At the 10-day event, members will have many opportunities to attend business sessions, special ancillary programming, and worship services throughout the days and two weekends at The Dome at America’s Center. Church members are encouraged to make plans to attend by saving the dates of July 3-12, 2025.