This year’s 61st General Conference (GC) session has been nothing but extraordinary. Despite the challenges behind organizing a hybrid session and accommodating its double postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the session draws to a close as the Sabbath arrives. “Even though certain restrictions have been placed on millions of people causing uncertainty and even panic, as Seventh-day Adventists we can be anchors of stability and pillars of hope pointing people to the Master Physician” stated President of the GC, Elder Ted Wilson.
Providing delegates and attendees with the option to join Session virtually from around the globe, part of this year’s session included a reduced schedule of six days rather than the formal ten days experienced in previous sessions. This modification resulted in a full schedule for delegates, requiring them to participate in several business meetings from Monday through Thursday. Due to the varying time zones of delegates attending the sessions worldwide, appropriate adjustments were made to ensure that every participant would experience a Sabbath of worship.
Sheri Clemmer, assistant to the session manager for GC said, “On Friday in St. Louis it will already be Sabbath for a delegate somewhere in the world. Delegates won’t participate in business on Sabbath.” She added, “Sabbath will be a day of worship”.
And a day of worship it was. Filled with multicultural music performances, mission reports from worldwide divisions and their local fields, meaningful and motivating sermons, and a Total Member Involvement report, attendees witnessed “God’s miraculous intervention in the life of the church,” as by said Willie Oliver, director of the GC Family Ministries department. Many divisions celebrated several achievements, including an increase in the total number of members and hundreds of baptisms since the last quinquennium.
“In the ten years … our membership has doubled. There were a little more than 3,100 adventists,” said Rick McEdward, Middle East and North Africa Union Mission president. “Now there is a little more than 6,200 members. This reassures us that the great investment on the part of the world church is making a difference in the lives of people.”
Filberto Verduzco, Inter-American Division treasurer elaborates, “Thanks to the faithfulness and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mission continues to advance in small communities, medium-sized cities, and large cities. It is surly a miracle and a manifestation of Divine grace for in spite of the health, social, and economic challenges that the world is facing today, the church is advancing and continues to make enormous strides.”
Tithes and funding for the World Church also increased despite the financial challenges many countries faced throughout the world. Treasurer of the North American Division, Randy Robinson noted, “During the pandemic, we wondered how we would continue to fund our mission. By the grace of God, through the profound generosity of His people, funding continued to flow, and yes, even increased, to further the ‘together in mission, I Will Go’ focus.”
God was ultimately glorified for His providence in the growth of the Adventist church. Although every division faces varying obstacles in spreading the Gospel hope including an intolerance to Christianity, lack of resources like food, sanitation, and water, and opposing belief systems, the critical significance of “Total Member Involvement” was emphasized. The worshipful day reminded listeners of the need for committed Adventists who are willing to be used by Christ to spread His message of hope to a hurting world.
“Our main task is to turn the hearts of people to God the Creator,” said Mikhail Kaminskiy, president of the Euro-Asia Division. Video narrator of the Euro-Asia Division report added, “each one of us has a mission to fulfill, with the power of the Word of God, and the transforming healing of His love, we have what is needed to go.”
The collaboration of every member is essential. This Sabbath, may we be reminded that Total Member Involvement includes every individual, to join in the Great Commission. GC Associate Director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Jim Howard noted, “Wherever you are, and whatever your position in life may be, God is calling you.” As this year’s session comes to a close, Jesus invites us to get involved. He is coming soon.
To view the recorded livestream of Friday and Sabbath’s worship program and mission reports, go here.