September 26, 2016

Church Governance and Unity to Be Discussed at Annual Council

Clarification appended on Oct. 6, 2016

General Conference Secretariat has released two documents about church governance and unity that are to be considered by church leadership at the Annual Council business meeting in October.

The main document, titled “A Study of Church Governance and Unity,” is a 50-page analysis of references from the Bible, the writings of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White, and Adventist Church history as relating to policy and unity. The second document, the 17-page “Summary of a Study of Church Governance and Unity,” summarizes the points made in the longer document.

Both documents were published Sunday on the website of the General Conference’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, which is part of Secretariat and assisted in researching and drafting them. Secretariat oversees the General Conference’s working policy.

“During Annual Council this year we plan to discuss how best to address divergence from the current policy,” General Conference executive secretary G.T. Ng said Friday in an e-mail to members of the General Conference Executive Committee, comprised of church leaders from around the world who will gather at church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, for Annual Council on Oct. 5 to 12. “Please prayerfully review these documents as they provide a foundation for these discussions.”

Ng attached PDF copies of the two documents to the e-mail.

“We are living in a critical time in history,” Ng said. “Many prophetic events are unfolding before our very eyes. Christ’s return is imminent. The church must fulfill the mission for which it was founded. We must forge ahead valiantly. Nothing should distract us from sharing the gospel with a fearful and chaotic world. May the Holy Spirit soon pour out in full measure the latter rain to a united church.”


Read: “A Study of Church Governance and Unity” (PDF)

Read: “Summary of a Study of Church Governance and Unity” (PDF)

Note: Minor editorial changes have been made to the “Summary” since it was first posted on Sept. 25. The current version was updated at 3:27 p.m. ET on Oct. 4.


Clarification: The first paragraph of this story has been updated to clarify that the two documents were not to be discussed by church leadership at the Annual Council but were meant to act as resource materials for an agenda topic to be considered by church leadership. The original paragraph said, "General Conference Secretariat has released two documents about church governance and unity that are to be considered by church leadership at the Annual Council business meeting in October." It now reads: "General Conference Secretariat has released two documents about church governance and unity that are resource materials for an agenda topic to be considered by church leadership at the Annual Council business meeting in October."

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