Monday, June 6th, 2022 marks the commencement of the first hybrid General Conference (GC) Session in St. Louis, Missouri. The day began with opening remarks from Adventist World Church President Ted Wilson, Secretary Erton Kohler, and Treasurer Paul Douglas.
During the morning’s opening worship, Director of Ministerial Association Jerry Page led with prayer and introduced evangelist Mark Finley, Chaplain of the United States Senate Barry Black, and Senior Pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Dwight Nelson, each shared messages under the worship theme of “Seeking the Holy Spirit Together in Prayer, Music and the Word”. There were also several moments for partnered and group prayer during morning worship.
Wilson provided a comprehensive summary of significant events of the World Church since the last GC Session in his President’s Report. He urged delegates to participate prayerfully through voice and vote as their responsibility is a sacred one. Those in attendance, both in person and online, also witnessed and celebrated the baptism of Philippine Army Colonel, Eric Guevarra, and his wife, Leah.
The world church also welcomed 10 new unions into the Sisterhood of Unions in Zimbabwe, Belize, Ghana, Netherlands, Malaysia, and Ethiopia.
The morning business meeting was chaired by Vice-President of the General Conference, Arthur Stele. Secretary of the GC Erton Köhler led opening procedures, making note that the executive committee was in harmony with the GC Constitution (item 102). He also led the reading of the Mission Statement (item 104) and Undersecretary of the GC Hensley Moorooven provided a brief orientation for session delegates highlighting the ethical expectations, responsibilities, and session protocols.
The following motions were voted as approved during the morning session:
- Köher moved:
- To adopt the GC Rules of Order as a guide for the 61st GC Sessions (item 103).
- To approve Associate General Counsel of the GC Todd MacFarland as parliamentarian for business meetings of the 61st GC Session.
- To limit the time of delegate speeches due to time constraints of the Session.
- To adopt the daily program (item 105) and Session agendas (item 106) of 61st GC Session.
- To adopt both the Steering and Standing Committees (item 107-108).
- To accept the nominating committee list (item 109).
- To accept the 10 new and reorganized unions (items 111-116), making these unions official members of the Sisterhood of Unions and the GC, providing them the right to participate in the GC Session.
The subject of vaccination was brought up by delegate Jonathan Zirkle who requested to have the Church revisit its statement on vaccines as part of the GC Session agenda. No second was given. Stele encouraged leaving this point out of the agenda due to limited time. Motion was seconded and approved by common consent.
Grace Mackintosh from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada provided a second via Zoom for Zirkle’s request to appeal the discussion of the church’s stance on the Covid-19 vaccine. Elder Wilson urged delegates to stand united in refusing to put this issue on the agenda as it is not a constitution and bylaws issue, not a church manual issue, or a fundamental belief item. Wilson also reminded delegates that the Church’s stance is that individuals have the right to choose for themselves.
- Vote was held to stop discussion and resume after lunch.
- 1581 voted yes (84.5%); 291 voted no (15.5%).
- Vote was held to add the issue of vaccination to the 61st GC Session agenda.
- 1579 voted no (88.6%); 203 voted yes (11.4%).
General Vice-President of the GC Ella Simmons chaired the afternoon’s business session, where the following agenda items were addressed:
- Associate Secretary of the GC Karen Porter moved:
- To recognize and record the dissolution of the former Trans-Caucasus Union of Churches Mission in the Euro-Asia Division, effective January 1, 2021 (item 117).
- 1626 voted yes (99.6%); 7 voted no (0.4%).
- Undersecretary of the GC Hensley Moorooven moved the following amendments to the GC Constitution and Bylaws regarding the following topics:
- Phrasing and Language Edits:
- To approve three editorial amendments of GC Constitution and Bylaws (items 201, 202, and 203).
- Election (item 201) - to include the phrase“General Conference Executive Committee” instead of “Executive Committee”.
- To alphabetize names of departments (item 202).
- To use the phrase “electronic conference” rather than “telephone conference” (item 203).
- 1544 voted yes (98.9%); 17 voted no (1.1%).
- To approve the editorial amendments of GC Bylaws, Article IV – GC Undersecretary and Associate Secretaries (item 204) and Article V - GC Under Treasurer and Associate Treasurers (item 205).
- 1563 voted yes (97.4%); 41 voted no (2.6%).
- To approve the editorial amendments of GC Constitution and Bylaws, Constitution Article VIII—GC Executive Committee (item 206).
- Simmons asked that this item, along with delegate discussion and comments be taken back for review and revision.
- Mooroven agreed to set a time for the Constitution and Bylaws Committee to meet and review this agenda item.
- Associate Secretary of the GC Gerson Santos moved the following amendments to the Church Manual regarding the following topics:
- Church Services and Meetings Edits:
- To amend chapter 10 regarding Unauthorized Speakers (item 401) to clarify who may be invited to speak in the church and address the confusion caused by the implication that a layperson can not preach because they do not hold credentials.
- 1336 voted yes (90.7%); 137 voted no (9.3%)
- To amend chapter 8 regarding the confusing term “union school board,” replacing it with “multi-constituent school board” (item 402).
- 1502 voted yes (99.4%); 9 votes no (0.6%).
- To replace the phrase “baptismal ceremony” with “baptismal service” to make terminology more consistent throughout the Church Manual (item 403).
- 1478 voted yes (97.9%); 32 voted no (2.1%).
- To amend chapter 10, allowing church board members to participate electronically in church board meetings (item 404).
- 1450 voted yes (98.9%); 16 voted no (1.1%)
The meeting chair this evening was General Vice-President of the GC Abner de Los Santos. The following motions agenda items were addressed in Monday’s evening session:
- Santos moved:
- Church Services and Meetings Edits Continued:
- To amend chapter 10 to clarify some of the organizational aspects of the church business meeting (item 405).
- Francois Louw, SID delegate, asked to place the motion on the table for appropriate consideration of it prior to voting.
- Santos agreed to take back this item to the committee.
- To amend chapter 8 to promote the consistency of wording between the sections on elders and deacons/deaconesses and to address some confusion in areas where women are ordained as elders (item 406).
- Motion to refer the motion to the committee was made.
- Several delegates spoke in favor and others against the referral of the motion back to the committee.
- Vote to cease all debate and begin voting.
- 1251 voted yes (92.3%); 105 voted no (7.7%).
- Vote to refer the initial motion (item 406) to the committee.
- 617 voted yes (43.9%); 787 voted no (56.1%).
- The initial motion was returned to the floor.
- Vote to cease all debate once again and begin voting.
- 1278 voted yes (88.5%); 166 voted no (11.5%)
- Vote to approve the initial motion.
- 1088 voted yes (75.7%); 350 voted no (24.3%)
- To amend chapter 8 regarding ordination service for deaconesses (item 407).
- Vote to refer item 407 back to the committee.
- 577 voted yes (39.5%); 885 voted no (60.5%).
- Initial motion was returned to the floor.
- Vote to cease all debate and begin voting.
- 1476 voted yes (95.7%); 67 voted no (4.3%)
- Vote to approve initial motion.
- 1274 voted yes (82.9%); 263 voted no (17.1%)
The evening session ended with the arrival of the nominating committee report naming Elder Ted Wilson as nominee for President of the General Conference, followed by the vote, which went in his favor.
- Delegate vote: 1284 voted yes (74.9%); 431 voted no (25.1%).
The first day of the GC Session concluded with evening worship from Timothy Standish entitled, “I Believe!”
The recorded livestream of today’s opening remarks, worship, and business meeting can be viewed on Youtube here. You can also access more information regarding GC Session, including the session agenda here. For information on the GC Session 2022 app, go to: https://adventist.news/news/2022-gc-sessions-first-official-app-goes-live.