October 11, 2014

Annual Council Opens With Call for Respect


Ted N.C. Wilson, leader of the Adventist world church,
opened a major church business meeting on Thursday evening with an appeal for
attendees to show respect amid discussions about contentious issues.

Church health leaders made a major call for the attendees —
church leaders from around the world — to establish health initiatives in their
neighborhoods and to set an example of healthful living after they returned
home from the Annual Council.

General Conference president Wilson wished God’s blessing to
church leaders over the next week of business sessions and spiritual meetings.

“We’ve been praying earnestly that this room would be filled
with a sweet spirit,” he said before reading from his prepared remarks.

Several key issues are on the agenda for the Annual
Council, including the first revision of the church’s Fundamental Beliefs since
1980. In 2005, delegates to the quinquennial world session of the
church added a new Fundamental
Belief, but none of the previous 27 Fundamental Beliefs was revised.

Much discussion
is also expected about the
theology of ordination and how it relates to gender.

<strong>CALL FOR RESPECT:</strong> Adventist Church leader Ted N.C. Wilson opening the Annual Council on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, with a call for delegates to show respect during discussions. Credit: Ansel Oliver / ANN
<strong>CHECKING LEADERS' HEALTH:</strong> Peter Landless, Health Ministries director, urging church leaders to set a good example in health. Credit: Ansel Oliver / ANN

Reading from the statement, Wilson said: “We General
Conference and division officers appeal to all Annual Council attendees to
accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of some
differences of opinion that may be evident on certain subjects. We ask for
Christ-likeness and humble respect for each other in our words and activities
during this Annual Council and beyond.”

From there, three Health Ministries department leaders took
to the stage of the main auditorium of the General Conference’s headquarters in
Silver Spring, Maryland, to implore delegates to put a priority on good health,
including my considering a meat-free diet. The presentations largely recapped information
discussed at an Adventist-organized health conference in Geneva in July.

“The world of science is shouting out the message to us
through the most modern scientific journals … that flesh foods are not good for
us,” said Peter Landless, director of Health Ministries. “I wish and pray that
we will move to a plant-based diet, with a balanced Christ-like approach, not
placing ourselves at various rungs of sanctification because of the diets we
consume, but following what is the best we can do in the environments we find

Landless also urged church leaders, who often fly on long
flights and sit through long meetings, to set the example of healthful living.

“How are you in yourself? Are your relationships healthy and
growing?” he asked.

British Union Conference president Ian Sweeney told how he
had lost 75 pounds in the past two years. He decided to eat healthier food and
exercise more after giving a book about health to a neighbor and realizing with
irony that it related to his own life.

“I hadn’t preached a sermon on health and temperance for 15
to 17 years because it would have just been hypocrisy,” Sweeney said. “The Spirit
impressed me that I want to reflect in my own life what I want to preach.”